Detective Inspector Gemma James Kincaid’s plans for a quiet family weekend are summarily cancelled when she receives a call requesting her immediate dispatch to a brutal murder scene at a seedy hotel in the Crystal Palace section of London. There are no outward reasons that the unlikely victim, a local barrister of some repute, would have been at the hotel, but upon investigation, Gemma and her team discover unsavory details about the victim that may well lead to his murderer. Before that crime is solved, however, another body turns up with enough similarities to the first to tie the two together – but what is the connection?
A wonderfully tangled cast of characters emerges as the investigation takes off. A young guitarist and his band mates, neighbors, investigators, barristers – it seems as though everyone involved with this case knows at least one of their fellow suspects, at least tangentially. As it turns out, Gemma and her husband, Scotland Yard Detective Superintendent Duncan Kinkaid are themselves personally acquainted with some of the people who are at least on the fringes of the investigation. With Duncan on leave to help tend to their young foster child, Gemma knows that she can’t involve him directly in the investigation, but a few informal queries won’t do any harm. Roles are reversed as Duncan mans the fort at home, but he is more than happy to dip his toes into the pond and help Gemma as best he can without compromising her case.
The parallel stories of different characters intersect at different points, running together for a bit before branching off again, only to intersect at another time. Fascinating flashes of backstory are woven through the novel, providing enough detail for readers to begin chipping away at the mystery yet not know the final resolution until the author intends. The weight of childhood upon one’s future is tangible, both in the victims and the perpetrators of the crimes, yet the author doesn’t oversaturate the novel with maudlin details. All roads lead home, or at least to Crystal Palace, and as the story races to a heart pounding conclusion, the pieces finally fall together for Gemma and her team….
The Sound of Broken Glass
is the 15th novel in author Deborah Crombie’s James/Kincaid series, and the story is as fresh and vital as though it were the first. Gemma and Thomas have come a long way since their early days, and have settled into a domesticity that may surprise longtime readers of the series. That said, their personal relationship takes a true back seat to the fast-paced and complex murder investigations, yet that relationship is still intrinsic to this novel. The Sound of Broken Glass
is a perfect blend of past and present, of old and new relationships and a reminder of how the past continually impacts the present, no matter how hard you might try to escape those bounds.