DEBORAH CROMBIE – A Share in Death. Duncan Kincaid #1. Charles Scribner’s Sons, hardcover, 1993. Berkley, paperback, 1994. Avon, paperback, 2003.

   This is a first novel set in England, by an ex-resident of Scotland now living in Texas; an intriguing mix. Newly promoted Detective Superintendent Duncan Kincaid of Scotland Yard is on a well-earned vacation at a cousin’s timeshare in the north of England.

   As oft seems to happen to vacationing cops, he has scarcely unpacked his bags when murder is committed — the assistant manager is electrocuted in the spa. The overbearing local head cop wants to call it suicide (for no good reason that I could see) but Duncan knows better. Sure enough it wasn’t, and sure enough there’s another murder, and sure enough Duncan lands right in the middle of it — which the local hates.

   This is a good, solid British village mystery. It breaks no new ground, but is well written, and for a first novel, exceptionally so. Kincaid is an engaging protagonist, and his Sergeant, Gemma James, shows promise as well. I found all of the characters believable for the most part, and sharply delineated.

   Crombie had Kincaid semi-yearning after every good-looking woman in the story, which I thought was a bit of an unnecessary tease, but that was my only kvetch. The plot was probably the weakest link in the chain, but even that was no worse than average. All told, I read few first novels that show this much promise.

— Reprinted from Ah Sweet Mysteries #6, March 1993.

Bibliographic Notes:   Barry’s judgment was very much correct. A Share in Death was given Agatha and Macavity nominations for Best First Novel of 1993. With publication of The Garden of Lamentations next year, there will be 17 books in the Duncan Kincaid / Gemma James series.