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on June 27, 2004
Deborah Crombie is a puzzling writer: how can someone who is capable of writing a book as good as And Justice There is None (her previous mystery) produce a clinker like this one, or like A Finer End (the one before And Justice There is None)?
It's hard to put my finger on precisely what makes this book fall flat, but fall flat it does. Part of the problem is Crombie's attempt to weave together two stories: a late-19th-century story and an early-21st-century story, both of which take place in the same part of the Scottish highlands and involve members of the same families. In theory, this isn't a bad idea, but in practice, the stories never relate to each other in any meaningful way.
Another problem is the amount of research that went into this book. The good news is that, as usual, Crombie did her research thoroughly. The bad news is, she wasn't able to keep her research from sticking out all over the book like the proverbial sore thumb. There's so much information in this book about how Scottish whisky is made, at times it almost reads like a how-to-start-your-own-distillery handbook. And at one point, she brings the plot to a screeching halt while one of the characters gives the recipe for an appalling-sounding dish called Cullen Skink.
Then there are the cars. Crombie spends an inordinate amount of time explaining where every car is at every point in the story, and who borrowed whose car to go where. I suppose that, if you're writing a mystery, it's important to keep a chart showing where every character and every car is at every moment, so you don't inadvertently put someone in a place where he couldn't possibly be. But, unless the "Who drove whose car?" issue is essential to the plot (and it isn't, here), the reader doesn't need to see that chart -- and, far too often, I felt like that's exactly what I was looking at.
I don't know if there's a pattern developing here, but I noticed that, of Crombie's last three books, the only one I thought was successful was the one set in London (And Justice There is None), while the two that I found disappointing were set in the Scottish highlands (this one) and Glastonbury (A Finer End). Can it be that Kincaid and James simply don't travel well? Here's hoping that Crombie's next book -- which I will read, despite my reservations about this one -- will represent both a return to London, and a return to form for her.
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on May 17, 2004
I really enjoyed this book. I found that Gemma on her own as she is for most of this book is a nice touch. Although I like Kincaid, I find him somewhat of a "stuffed shirt". I also love Scotland, and this book has some wonderful descriptions of the Scottish countryside in the spring, which to my mind would be when I would like to visit. This book slips back and forth between two times - the present and 1898 so there is a parallel storyline here. I think Ms. Crombie handles this very well, and she certainly makes it clear that the old adage is true - "
The sins of the fathers are visited on the sons." in the book Gemma's friend Hazel has asked her to accompany her to the place where she grew up for what she terms a "cookery weekend", at a Bed and Breakfast. Once they get there Gemma finds that what she thought she knew about Hazel is totally wrong, and she finds herself in the middle of a love triangle which turns into a murder. Along the way we learn how fine whiskey is made. A good read!
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on November 10, 2003
Deborah Crombie's excellent Gemma James/Duncan Kincaid series continues with NOW MAY YOU WEEP. This novel transports Gemma (and us) to the Scottish Highlands with her friend Hazel Cavendish. Hazel comes from a line of a whiskey-making dynasty. Hazel's story plays a little like Romeo and Juliet. Young lovers torn apart by family feud. Hazel leaves Highlands rather than have her lover lose his place in his family dynasty. She marries and moves on with her life only to meet up with her former lover years later. She has never forgotten him and decides to see where it all might lead, so after a bit of subterfuge, she brings Gemma with her to the Highlands in the guise of doing a cookery class there.
Things get a bit tricky when her former lover is found dead and suspicion rests on Hazel.
Crombie's strengths lie not only in tightly woven suspenseful plots, but the rich characterizations she brings to all her novels. Here we have not only the mystery that is intriguing in itself, but also the ongoing story of Gemma and Duncan. They have moved in together with their respective sons, but it is not smooth sailing for the family. Gemma and Duncan are extremely likable characters and I enjoy reading about them immensely.
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on November 8, 2003
"Now May You Weep" is Deborah Crombie's latest mystery featuring Gemma James and Duncan Kincaid. Since Gemma left Scotland Yard, she no longer has a working relationship with her lover and housemate, Superintendent Duncan Kincaid. Gemma decides to take a few days off from her job as a detective inspector with the Metropolitan Police to enjoy a cookery weekend in the Scottish Highlands. She is traveling with Hazel Cavendish, her landlord and good friend.
Much to Gemma's surprise, she finds that Hazel had an ulterior motive when she suggested this trip to Scotland, which was her childhood home. It seems that Hazel has been keeping secrets about her past not only from her friend, but also from her husband, Tim. These secrets lead to an unanticipated series of events that end in murder.
"Now May You Weep" features a nice change of scenery. Crombie makes the most of the beautiful Scottish countryside where the story is set. She describes the heather-clad moors, the rolling hills, and granite cliffs of the Highlands in vivid detail. A number of the characters speak in a colorful Scottish dialect, which adds to the book's atmosphere. Since some of the characters are whiskey distillers, Crombie takes the time to explore the history and manufacture of Scotch whiskey, which may be interesting for those who care about how fine whiskey is made.
The problem arises with Crombie's plot, which turns out to be a bit of a potboiler. Love triangles abound, and the melodrama is piled on fairly heavily by the time Crombie comes to her climactic conclusion. She uses the same device that worked well in her previous book, namely a series of flashbacks that supposedly explain the events of the present day. Unfortunately, this time around, the flashbacks are distracting rather than illuminating. It is also too bad that Gemma and Duncan spend less time than usual together, and the story suffers for it. The mystery is a little too forced, and the characters lack the psychological depth that we have come to expect from Crombie. "Now May You Weep" is a disappointing installment is an otherwise above-average mystery series.
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on October 23, 2003
Now May You Weep is quite possibly how you will feel upon completing this lackluster addition to the James/Kincaid series. Gemma James joins her friend for a cooking class weekend in the Highlands with a group of cardboard characters and poorly developed entanglements. Soon enough a murder occurs with Gemma on the outside second guessing the investigation and withholding information. As the story resolves we get blatant red herrings, obvious clues, a lot of talk about whiskey, motives that are ignored and characters that basically just wander out of the story.
Where is Duncan during this time, you ask? For the most part he is in London dealing with a moody Kit and the still unresolved question of paternity. He does make a quick run up to Scotland for a cuddle, but is soon back in London because a suspect will only talk to him.
Our dynamic duo are basically in the dark until reluctant suspects decide to tell all, allowing Gemma and Duncan to solve the case at the same time despite the fact they are far apart. Gemma then runs to the rescue, subduing the murderer and all of the loose ends are neatly wrapped up.
There is a historical story running throughout that is supposed to explain a long running family feud between two whiskey producing families, but the relevance to the current situation are tenuous at best and it reads a lot like a bad romance novel.
To add injury to insult, one of the investigation detectives remarks how the case is like something out of Agatha Christie. Dame Agatha deserves better and so do we.
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on October 21, 2003
This latest in the Kincaid-James series was no disappointment, although being a lover of Scotland AND Crombie, I am perhaps biased. But Crombie just gets better (unlike so many mystery writers who have to churn out a new book every year and burn out after a while).
The plot involves a long weekend trip to the Scottish highlands by Gemma James, who is invited by her friend Hazel Cavendish. It turns out that this is not going to be the innocent weekend learning some cooking at an old farmhouse run by an old school friend of Hazel's -- Gemma learns that an old lover of (now married) Hazel will be present for the weekend. Not only that, but Hazel has been meeting the old lover, Donald Brodie, in London. Donald runs a family distillery (Scotch) down the road from the farmhouse and will be doing the cookery weekend as well. No-one thinks this weekend is a good idea except Donald, who wants Hazel to leave her husband for him.
Needless to say, someone ends up dead and Hazel is a suspect, so Gemma gets involved in trying to solve the murder (to the annoyance of the local police). Duncan ends up joining her, so they are once more working together.
Interspersed with this 2003 story are short sections of a story that took place 100 years ago in the same area, with the ancestors of Donald and Hazel and some other characters. In a place where feuds and grudges are rife, the story of family conflict from the past explains some of the tensions in the present day story.
All in all, the plotting was excellent and characterization and dialogue well-done. Add to this the Scottish highland backdrop, and this mystery made a great read. I could practically smell the heather. I can hardly wait to find out what happens to James & Kincaid next. I hope Crombie does another "Scottish" mystery soon.
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on October 7, 2003
Gemma Jones is taking a mini vacation from Detective Superintendent Duncan Kincaid and their two children. The Detective Inspector assigned to Notting Hill Police Station is traveling with her friend to the bed and breakfast Inner Free in a small village in the Scottish Highlands to take a cooking class. What Gemma didn't realize is that Hazel was rendezvousing with Donald Brodie, the only man she ever loved, even though she is married to Jim Cavendish and has a child with him.
The group that are at the B&B all have ulterior motives for taking the class and emotions run high. When Gemma takes an early morning walk she stumbles across the body of Donald and finds herself in the middle of a homicide investigation during her vacation. Even though Gemma is out of her jurisdiction, she has a need to solve the case before the killer strikes again.
There are so many suspects who would have liked to see the victim dead, from Brodie's mistress's boyfriend to Hazel's husband, readers come to understand that it is not only the B&B people who are the suspects. NOW MAY YOU WEEP concentrates on Gemma who is able to figure out who the killer is before the person is ready to strike again, but is not sure she can stop another homicide from happening. Deborah Crombie once again delivers a fascinating mystery starring characters who feel like old friends.
Harriet Klausner
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on November 17, 2003
"Now May You Weep" takes us with detective Gemma James and her best friend, Hazel Cavendish, to the Scottish Highlands for a culinary weekend. Hazel has deep family roots in the beautiful area, famous for flavorful, aged whisky made in picturesque distilleries. Her homecoming reveals some of the details of her earlier life and a previous romance with the handsome Donald Brodie, whom Gemma is surprised to find, has never completely left Hazel's life.
Crombie uses a flashback technique, quoting the diaries of two women in the late 1880s, to weave a tale of passion, fortune, and long-kept secrets. The reader will be swept along as Gemma pieces together disparate evidence to solve a tragic murder, and as she comes to know her close friend Hazel on an even deeper level. Kudoes to Crombie for another great read!
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on March 14, 2004
I am a huge fan of the series and have contacted Deborah to praise her writing on previous Kincaid/James titles but this one missed the mark. Duncan and Gemma were flatine, their growth arc non-existant, Gemma was unrecognisable and Hazel's 'past life' did not ring true knowing her as we do through this series,the storyline was forced and contrived, the back story did not contribute to the mood as in the other novels. I re-read the book prior to posting and still feel the same.
Hopefully book 10 in this series tentatively titled 'One Blood Will Tell' gives us back the texture on which this series was built.
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on November 10, 2003
I've been waiting what seemed like forever for the next Kinkaid/James novel from Deborah Crombie and ran right out to buy Now May you Weep. Crombie doesn't disappoint. She kept me reading far into the night. The novel, set in Scotland, is rich with atmosphere and the characters really came to life for me. Not only that, but I learned a lot about making (and enjoying) whiskey because of Ms. Crombie's impeccable research. It was interesting to see how Duncan and Gemma's relationship has progressed since And Justice There is None. Can't wait for the next installment!!!
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