Kissed a Sad Goodbye
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Nominated for an Edgar, Deborah Crombie's 1997 Dreaming of the Bones was such a triumph in all respects that it's a hard act to follow. Kissed a Sad Goodbye, Crombie's sixth book about Scotland Yard's Duncan Kincaid and Gemma James, isn't quite as spectacular as her previous rendition. Still, the author who creates her very British world from a town in North Texas has managed to come up with an entirely respectable and highly enjoyable effort. Her story offers a fascinating setting in place of the poignant, personal drama that invigorated Dreaming of the Bones.
The body of a lovely young woman is found in London's fashionable Docklands area. She turns out to be Annabelle Hammond, the director of an old family firm of tea merchants. She was a woman of tremendous talent and sexual appetite, but also the kind of harsh and abrasive personality that provides plenty of motives for murder. The Hammond family is also historically linked to the self-made property developer Lewis Finch and his son, an activist dropout and street musician. The other suspects include a spineless boyfriend who works at the tea firm, a secretary too loyal to be true, and herrings of various shades of crimson. Kincaid and James have to solve it all, even as their own personal problems threaten to intrude. Thanks to Crombie's enviable ability to bring people and places to life with a single phrase, the story zips along like the new Docklands electric railroad.
Previous Kincaid-James books in paperback include Dreaming of the Bones, All Shall Be Well, Leave the Grave Green, and Mourn Not Your Dead. --Dick Adler --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Publishers Weekly
Scotland Yard detectives Sergeant Gemma James and Superintendent Duncan Kincaid (Dreaming of the Bones, etc.) return to solve a murder committed in the East End of London. On the Isle of Dogs in the Docklands area, a young woman is found dead. Oddly, her corpse has been carefully, even reverently, arranged. The stunningly beautiful victim, Annabelle Hammond, is the director of a family-owned tea company that is headquartered in a historic building nearby. Operating on the premise that Annabelle probably knew her killer, Duncan and Gemma poke around in the victim's past, meanwhile working through problems in their own lives. Duncan has recently learned that his ex-wife (who died in Dreaming of the Bones) left behind an 11-year-old son; now he is discovering how much time and emotion are needed to bring up a child. As previously, Crombie delineates expertly the interactions between lovers Duncan and Gemma, as their relationship continues to evolve. Most notable, though, is her masterful depiction of the history and character of the Docklands: the Isle of Dogs, and its historic cycle of destruction and renewal, provides a strong, atmospheric background to the tale, as the contemporary story is interspersed with accounts of the evacuation of local children (including Annabelle's father) during the bombings of WWII. Although not as emotionally intense as its Edgar-nominated predecessor, this complex, thoughtful novel is another satisfying entry in an exceptional series. Agent, Nancy Yost.
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top Customer Reviews
This story had several sub-plots intertwined with the main mystery, the murder of a beautiful young woman in a park. Much of the sub-plots had to do with parent-child relationships between both the primary investigator, Duncan, and his chort, Gemma. Both have children who have lost a parent for one reason or another, and both are coping with guilt over having to leave their children to perform their respective jobs. This is a real problem in today's world, and it is not easily coped with.
It is not until the mystery is solved that it become apparent that it also deals with family relationships. I got led off on several other possibilities for the woman's murderer, but they all were too pat, and I should have known better. There is a twist at the end that does make sense in some ways, though physically I wondered if the murderer had the strength to do the deed.
I enjoyed the history of the Docklands (snippets at the front of each chapter) and the history of the children in Britain who were forced from London into homes that were alien in the countryside due to the WWII Blitz by the Germans. I always like a little history with my mystery....
The plot involves a beautiful woman found dead in a park in the Docklands area of London, a death that involves several long-time residents of this gentrifying area (which had more or less been destroyed by bombing during World War II and subsequently redeveloped). From time to time, the story is interrupted by a story from World War II, about children evacuated from London to live in the country -- a story of distant events that is clearly relevant somehow to this murder because the same names keep popping up. The romance between the two detectives (Duncan Kincaid and Gemma James) continues to develop -- and flounder a little -- as they attempt to solve this murder.
I felt this book could have been edited, made about 50 pages shorter, with certain subplots (particularly that involving Gemma's temptation by another man) deleted for a tighter, more satisfying book. I also was disappointed by the ending -- although I guessed the killer halfway through the book, the reason for the killing did not seem adequate at all.
If you love the series, read this book, but if this is your introduction to the Kincaid/James series, start with an earlier book, not this one. I personally did not feel this was her best work although it is well worth reading -- even Crombie's not-so-good books are very good.
While I read "Kissed a Sad Goodbye" I pulled out one of my maps of London, and followed the trail. This may have helped me enjoy it. I like to follow maps while I read if the author is naming and describing places. I also may have enjoyed the book more because I was in the Docklands in last fall, and walked the tunnel under the Thames to Greenwich and through the little village itself. I had wanted to see the tunnel since I read P.D. James novel "Original Sin". Mudchute was also featured in "Playing for the Ashes" written by Elizabeth George, and I think the area was captured in the film "Career Girls" too.
Also, I am an inveterate tea drinker and fan, so I loved the description of the tea business.
Duncan finds the case difficult because of personal
problems. His beloved Gemma seems to be changing even as she seems to be hiding a secret from him. He also struggles to connect with a son he never knew existed until recently. The case is a major distraction. Many people seem to detest the victim, but he wonders who would have the strongest motive to kill her. To learn the truth and subsequently uncover the killer, the police will have to look to the distant past for the reason.
The Kincaid-James series never seems to grow stale as Deborah Crombie continually modifies the personal lives of her lead characters. Because they already seem like an everyman or woman, the changes make them feel genuine. The delicious flashbacks to WW II enhance a brilliant who-done-it. Once again Ms. Crombie provides her audience with an especially entertaining novel.
Most recent customer reviews
I am reading this series in succession and very much enjoying it.
You've read the synopsis of the book. The story weaves back and forth, somewhat convoluted. Read more
I liked this book very much; was intrigued by the plot and the switching back and forth between present day and WWII England. Read morePublished on July 17 2000
One of the aspects of reading a Deborah Crombie novel is the many layers of past & present into which she draws you. Read morePublished on May 19 2000 by Rebecca Brown
I've read all the books in this very enjoyable series, and this one's definitely the best so far. I'd recommend to anyone interested to read the books in chronological order. Read morePublished on Oct. 15 1999
Deborah Crombie has done it again. It's amazing that this Texan writes such "English" mystery novels. Read morePublished on Sept. 6 1999
Okay, should you read this one and then go back and read the others?
This is newest in a line of very good books. Read more
The question before you: start with Crombie's first book or start with the best one? The lives of the chief characters are more interesting if read in order, but I found this... Read morePublished on June 19 1999 by Crystal Graham
"Kissed a Sad Goodbye" is a workmanlike police procedural. The strengths of the books are its dialogue, which is realistic, and the flashbacks to World War II, which are... Read morePublished on June 13 1999 by E. Bukowsky