DEBORAH CROMBIE – Leave the Grave Green. Duncan Kincaid & Gemma James #3, Scribner, hardcover, 1995. Berkley, paperback, 1996. Avon, paperback, 2005.

   I like Crombie’s books. They strike me as crosses between village mysteries and British cozies, and I think they’re well done.

   [Detective Superintendent Duncan] Kincaid and [Sergeant Gemma] James are dispatched from Scotland Yard to handle a politically sensitive case a little way down the Thames. The so-in-law of two titles personages who are major figures in British opera has been found washed up in a lock, and it appear that murder is a possibility.

   The family is an odd one; the daughter lived with her parents rather than her deceased husband, while he continued to occupy their flat. No one seems terribly cut up about it all, and clues are scarce. Nothing to do but get out the spades and start digging, so they do.

   I commented about a previous book in the series that I thought Crombie overdid having Kincaid lust after every woman in the story, and that hasn’t changed. WARNING: PLOT ELEMENTS REVEALED. Some readers seem to prefer their fictional heroes with large warts. but I don’t. Crombie puts a couple of dandies on Kincaid here, and it lessens his appeal to me as a protagonist. Simply if inelegantly put, he screws both a suspect and his comely Sergeant, and that doesn’t make him more human, it just makes him stupid. Well, maybe that’s the same thing. END WARNING.

   Aside from all that, this was a piece with the two previous books: well written, nicely characterized, decently plotted, and an enjoyable read.

— Reprinted from Ah Sweet Mysteries #18, February-March 1995.