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Water Like a Stone Hardcover – Jan 15 2008


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--This text refers to an alternate Hardcover edition.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 530 pages
  • Publisher: Magna Large Print Books; Large Print edition edition (Jan. 15 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0750527870
  • ISBN-13: 978-0750527873
  • Shipping Weight: 789 g

Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

The start of Crombie's solid 11th contemporary police procedural featuring Duncan Kincaid of Scotland Yard and Gemma James of the Notting Hill Metropolitan Police (after 2004's In a Dark House) finds the two detectives, also romantic partners, in the English countryside with their children to celebrate Christmas with Kincaid's family. But the trip turns into a busman's holiday when Kincaid's sister, Juliet Newcombe, finds the mummified corpse of an infant in the wall of a building she's renovating. That discovery proves but the first of many mysteries that soon invade the quiet Cheshire community—a woman who once worked as a social worker is murdered, and Juliet finds evidence that her own husband and his partner may be embezzlers. Crombie's combination of the fair-play whodunit with a psychological examination of her characters may remind some readers of P.D. James, but her sleuths lack the depth of James's Commander Dalgleish. (Feb.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an alternate Hardcover edition.

From Booklist

Although the presence of Scotland Yard detectives Gemma James and Duncan Kincaid provides the glue that ultimately holds Crombie's latest novel together, the pair seems less involved in solving crime this time than in previous adventures. That doesn't stop this multifaceted mystery from being one of the best in Crombie's long-running series. Christmas with Duncan's family proves just as stressful as Gemma feared, though not in the way she anticipated. Moments after arriving at the elder Kincaid's farmhouse, Duncan is called away by his sister, who has discovered the body of an infant entombed in the wall of a building she is renovating. The sad, horrifying discovery sets the stage for a tightly knit, two-pronged tale, which has a retired social worker at its heart. Duncan's teenage son, newly come to live with his father and Gemma, and Duncan's sister, whose family is disintegrating, are in sharp focus here, as is a canal-boat family whose suffering reminds Duncan and Gemma of recent losses of their own. As in books by Elizabeth George and P. D. James, the intriguing personal relationships and family dynamics drive this well-crafted, impressive mystery-drama. Stephanie Zvirin
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an alternate Hardcover edition.

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Amazon.com: 92 reviews
25 of 25 people found the following review helpful
A Cut Above... Feb. 10 2007
By egreetham - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
I found this, the most recent of Deborah Crombie's Duncan Kincaid/Gemma James novels, more satisfying than the usual series fare. (Even though this novel is a series entry, Ms. Crombie provides enough background information to make a reader new to the series comfortable. It is not an easy task to accomplish this without providing too much or too little back story, and she does this rather well.) Kincaid returns, with his partner Gemma and their children, to his parents' home in Cheshire where he grew up, intending to spend the Christmas holidays and expecting only the disturbances of family tension. When his sister, a builder, finds the mummified body of an infant in an old barn she is rehabbing, everything changes. When the examination of this death becomes involved with another investigation, the complications multiply as Kincaid and his family are more and more directly involved.

Although the complexity of the plot strains believability, most of the characters are compelling and realistic. (In fact, I was surprisingly moved by the fate of one character.) The local police are so completely fleshed out that it wouldn't surprise me if Ms Crombie started a DCI Babcock series. Ms. Crombie seems to know her Cheshire very well--she evokes its canals and towns beautifully, and with apparent affection. Altogher, an enjoyable read.
16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
So very simply intricate -- Brava!!! Feb. 19 2007
By Kristi - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Crombie just keeps getting better and better. In this outing, Scotland Yard Superintendant Duncan Kincaid and his son Kit, and Duncan's partner, Gemma James of the Notting Metropolitan Police and her son, Toby, bundle up the family's two dogs and head to Cheshire and Kincaid's boyhood home for the Christmas Holiday with his family. Once there, the group is only just warmly welcomed by Kincaid's parents when his sister, Juliet, calls to say she thinks she may have found a body in an old barn that she is renovating...

Crombie uses a third person point of view better than anyone, allowing you to see inside the heads of the participants and understand why they're doing what they are doing in a way that makes perfect sense... only you know that if each knew what the others did, they'd realize much sooner what evil is among them. Even the childrens' and teenagers' actions are portrayed with empathy -- yes, sometimes, they behave like perfect idiots, but Crombie helps you remember what it was like to be so unsure but so desperately needful of seeming to know everything.

The book paints a fascinating picture of the narrow boats on the English canals, and I realized then how many of her books had managed to bring to life a part of the English countryside that isn't usually talked about in guide books or glossy brochures.

Crombie has a rare gift for blending dialoge, action and scenery so seamlessly that you feel you were there. Can't wait for the next one!
29 of 32 people found the following review helpful
Crombie doesn't disappoint! Feb. 18 2007
By K. M. - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
The previous Duncan Kincaid/ Gemma James installment, IN A DARK HOUSE, masterfully knitted together four plot skeins and kept readers on the edge of their seats. Just released WATER LIKE A STONE, # 11 in the series, reverts to a construction more like that of NOW MAY YOU WEEP, the ninth book which revolved around friends and family rather than around cases assigned to the copper couple. As a result, WATER LIKE A STONE is a less complex procedural -- although it is by no means simple -- as it concentrates on the more personal lives of the family.

This time, the blended Kincaid/James family motors to the Barbury home of Duncan's parents to spend the Christmas holidays. As they arrive on Christmas Eve, Duncan's sister, whose troubled, splintering family lives in neighboring Nantwich discovers an infant's desiccated remains in a barn she and her construction crew are renovating. So, in the midst of family introductions and familiarization, Duncan reconnects with a childhood friend who is now the chief inspector in charge of this investigation and watches a bit enviously from the sidelines as the local police work the case.

Duncan and his son, Kit, also meet a narrowboat owner named Annie, whom they both find intriguing. She, a retired social worker, offers to take them for a boat ride if they return while she is moored nearby. We get to know her fairly intimately, just as we do others in the story. Annie is the "elum" (helm), if you will, of the book: all the branches of the story steer through her.

The younger set plays a significant role in WATER LIKE A STONE. Kit's teenage cousin, Lally, is a wild girl whose destructive behavior worsens due to the turmoil between her parents. Kit's desire to help her lands him in mortal peril at the tale's climax. Of all the plot threads in the novel, this one appeals to this reader the least. Too many mysteries in books, movies, and television, resort to plots about out-of-control young people these days. But, thankfully, Crombie does not portray all the teenagers as witless or without conscience.

WATER LIKE A STONE shines more for its human relationship building -- especially within the sensitive Kincaid clan -- than for crime suspense. Reading about the Christmas traditions of the family, about the tentative and careful ways most of them pick to acquaint themselves for the first time, or again, is a joy. After all, in a series like this, getting a deeper intuition into the make-up of the lead characters and those they love and cherish fuels most readers. The reality that the identity of the primary perp can be guessed fairly early in the game doesn't notably cripple the novel's enjoyment factor; and happily *all* the secrets of the book can't be teased out with any certainty before they are revealed by the author.

One oddity in the text could be changed in the paperback edition: the investigating chief inspector refers to himself as "Detective Superintendent" on page 224. Nothing in the plot supports this statement: he hasn't been promoted mid-book. It could be considered a wishful slip of the tongue because Duncan is a superintendent, but it is most likely merely a minor error that wasn't caught by editing.

Sincere thanks to Laura Hartman Maestro, the artist who furnished the beautiful and often referenced illustrated maps on the book's end papers. This finely rendered touch truly enhances the experience of reading WATER LIKE A STONE.

The structural greatness of IN A DARK HOUSE really couldn't be topped, so Crombie's wise shift to a more personal tale in WATER LIKE A STONE convincingly satisfies and pleases!

Highly recommended, with the caveat that, were there the choice, I would actually rate this book four and a half enthusiastic stars rather than a full five.
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
Terrific read Feb. 12 2007
By K. MacAlister - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
I had to ration my reading to keep from finishing this book too quickly, since I know it will be at least a year till the next one arrives. Ms. Crombie has the unique ability to balance plot and characterization so that they support each other and keep the reader totally involved. The plot is complex, but so are the characters, and they combine to make it difficult to put the book down. I wish I could give this 5+ stars--and hop a plane for Cheshire to cruise the canals in a narrowboat!
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
Duncan and Gemma take a busman's holiday. March 27 2007
By E. Bukowsky - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Deborah Crombie's "Water Like a Stone" is set during Christmas season in Nantwich, England. Scotland Yard Superintendent Duncan Kincaid and his partner, Detective Inspector Gemma James of the Metropolitan Police, along with their children, thirteen-year-old Kit and five-year-old Toby, are visiting Duncan's parents for the holidays. Duncan's sister, Juliet Newcombe, is having serious marital problems and her unhappy adolescent daughter, Lally, is going through a rebellious phase. When Juliet finds the mummified body of a baby in an old barn that she is renovating, she calls Duncan. Although he is far out of his jurisdiction, Duncan lends a hand to his old friend, Chief Inspector Ronnie Babcock, and Gemma also makes a vital contribution to the case. Later, Duncan's son finds the body of a murder victim, and the police attempt to track down the killer before he strikes again.

"Water Like a Stone" is a satisfying balance of family drama, murder mystery, and atmospheric fiction. Although she was born and educated in Texas, Crombie's vivid description of Nantwich's historic buildings and waterways and her skillful use of British vernacular will convince uninitiated readers that the author is a native of the British Isles. There is an intriguing subplot about a group of people who live on narrowboats: Annie Lebow, a disenchanted former social worker, has chosen an isolated life on her expensive and beautifully outfitted craft, while Gabriel Wain, a poor working man, struggles to make ends meet while he cares for his terminally ill wife. Wain is bitter because of the many unpleasant encounters he has had with insensitive bureaucrats and medical professionals. Annie and Gabriel have met in the past, and fate once again brings them together.

Crombie explores the nuances of interpersonal relationships brilliantly. Duncan and Gemma love one another but they still must deal with some unresolved issues. Duncan's son, Kit, is behaving oddly and his school performance has suddenly declined, much to his father's consternation. Juliet Newcombe despises her arrogant husband, Caspar; he treats her with contempt and is turning their children against her. In contrast, Duncan's loving parents, Hugh and Rosemary Kincaid, can practically finish one another's sentences after being happily married for many years. Caspar's slimy partner, Piers Dutton, indulges his troubled fourteen-year-old son, Leo, who is a born troublemaker. Most of the people in this novel, whatever their age and marital status, struggle with feelings of loneliness, fear, and uncertainty. The author skillfully digs into each individual's psyche; she shows how villainy and virtue take root as a result of genetics, upbringing, and one's unique personal history. The book's sole flaw is an ending that is a bit too neat and predictable. Still, "Water Like a Stone" is another fast-paced, engrossing, and suspenseful installment in the superior Duncan Kincaid/Gemma James series.

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