Release Date: Oct 8, 2019
Series: Duncan Kincaid/Gemma James
Imprint: William Morrow
Scotland Yard detectives Duncan Kincaid, Gemma James, and their children are spending a weekend in the Cotswolds, courtesy of Gemma’s friend Detective Sergeant Melody Talbot. Gemma and Duncan are two of the few people who know about Melody’s wealthy background so Melody feels comfortable inviting them to her family home. Gemma and Duncan are both looking forward to attending the charity luncheon Melody’s mother will be holding during their stay. However, Gemma and Duncan’s relaxing weekend turns into a working holiday when someone close to the local chef catering the luncheon is murdered.
A Bitter Feast is part of a long-running series, but works well as a standalone mystery for those unfamiliar with the author. This book, like the others in the series, are well-written with intricate plots and characters you care about. Gemma and Duncan are likable individually and as a couple. It’s strange to see them investigating but not in charge of the case in this book. Gemma is used to the city streets of London and it’s interesting to see her working on case in an unfamiliar environment. The descriptions of the setting made me wish I could spend a long weekend in the Cotswolds! Another difference in this book is that because of events occurring at the beginning of the book, Duncan is put in a vulnerable situation which is unusual for him.
In addition to the main characters I already liked, I enjoyed getting to know more about Melody’s family and seeing her seem to be coming to terms with her family’s wealth. There were a few too many complications in Melody’s love life, but that didn’t take away from my enjoyment of the book as a whole. On the other hand, it is great seeing Duncan and Gemma’s fifteen-year-old son playing such a large role in the story. He has grown up and matured since the earlier books in the series and it is nice seeing him with individual personality and really contributing to the story.
The search for the murderer kept me guessing throughout the book. There are some red herrings to keep the reader guessing since there are a few characters hiding secrets that make them suspicious, but their wrongs fall short of murder. I thought I had figured out part of the solution to central crime, but learned I was way off on the motive and the killer’s identity. Reading a Deborah Crombie novel is like spending time with old friends. Great characters, an interesting plot, and excellent writing combine for an enjoyable, intriguing novel. This well-crafted mystery is perfect for fans of Peter Robinson or Cynthia Harrod-Eagles.