A Killing of Innocents (Duncan Kincaid & Gemma James #19), by Deborah Crombie

A Killing of Innocents by Deborah Crombie

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

For ten years, I’ve been reading this great series by Deborah Crombie of novels about British police detectives Duncan Kincaid and Gemma James, first colleagues, now married with children and a glorious, complex patchwork family.

The series follows the personal and professional lives of Duncan and Gemma as they solve complex murder cases in London and sometimes beyond. The novels explore the rich culture and history of England, incorporating elements of mystery, suspense, and romance to create a captivating and engrossing reading experience.

I really liked the believable personal interactions…

»Taking a sip, he closed his eyes for a moment as the warmth spread through him.
When he blinked, he saw that Gemma was watching him, her expression concerned. “Start from the beginning,” she said.

… as well as the wholesome (despite not trouble-free) family life:

»“He says maybe I can come up for a couple of days over the Christmas hols.”
“Not until after the ballet,” Kincaid said, raising his brows in mock horror.
“No way.” Kit grinned and shrugged himself away from the doorjamb he’d been leaning against. “Well, back to maths.”

(Well, maybe a bit too wholesome if a kid goes voluntarily back to learning maths!)

With its well-developed characters, intricate plot lines, and atmospheric settings, this series has become a beloved staple of the crime fiction genre for me. This holds especially true since despite the usually grim subject matter there’s no gore or excessive brutality in these novels. I consider them an excellent blend of police procedural and “cosy” crime fiction.

»He sent a text instead, saying he was passing if Kit was ready to go home. The answer was swift.
Helping Otto until closing.
Kincaid felt an unexpected sense of loss. But a moment later, his mobile dinged again.
But thanks, Dad. See you later, okay? A row of smile emojis followed.
He walked on with a lighter step.

And this newest instalment is no exception to this: A young doctor is murdered in a busy square in London with just a young boy as a witness. Soon a complex web of intertwined stories unfolds and we’re following all the protagonists from earlier novels: Of course there are Duncan and Gemma (especially the latter having to juggle responsibilities towards her job and family!) but Doug, Melody and, a “secret” favourite of mine, Sidana are around.

All of them are well-established characters by now but they’re also easily “accessible” to anyone new to this series. The credible and relatable way everyone is acting (within the constraints of complex character) made me, once more, feel connected to each and every protagonist. Consequently, the switching points of view were commendably clear, well executed, cleverly placed and never confusing.

I have only two very minor niggles: The ending, while truly well constructed, exciting and suspenseful (I actually felt worried about those involved!), came a bit too early. The mystery’s pieces went in place logically and sensibly but I wouldn’t have minded a bit more to read. Secondly, there are interjections in italics (I can’t say more to avoid spoilers). Those don’t really add to the story and could easily have been left out.

All in all, a great mystery novel that easily garners four out of five stars!

Ceterum censeo Putin esse delendam

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