DEBORAH CROMBIE – All Shall Be Well. Duncan Kincaid & Gemma James #2. Charles Scribner’s Sons, hardcover, 1994. Paperback reprints: Berkley, 1995; Avon, 2004.

   I thought that Crombie’s first novel, last year’s A Share in Death [reviewed here ], was one of the better debuts of late; nothing compelling but a well-crafted and enjoyable book.

   Superintendent Duncan Kincaid has a home life, too, and it’s is about to intersect with his profession. The lady upstairs has been dying of cancer, and now he and her companion have found her dead. As she had previously hinted at suicide, an autopsy and inquest were necessary. She died of an overdose of morphine, and while most think it suicide, Kincaid thinks he knew the lady too well and doesn’t believe it.

   That leaves murder as the only alternative, so he and his trusty Sergeant, Gemma James, begin to investigate. Suspects include the companion (who is a major beneficiary of the will) and/or her avaricious lover, a weak and ne’er-do-well brother, and the visiting nurse.

   Once again I think the American Crombie has done a very good job of writing a British mystery. Her leads are likable and realistic, more so even than in the first book. The players in the mystery are also well done, believable and not stock. Crombie tells her story from shifting viewpoints in pleasant, unobtrusive prose, and paces it well.

   Her books haven’t the hard edge of, say, McGown or Fyfield, nor are they filled with the angst-ridden, unlikable people of Rendell or George, but they aren’t particularly cozy, either. They are well written examples of a traditional type, and I like them.

— Reprinted from Ah Sweet Mysteries #11, January 1994.