No Mark Upon Her, Deborah Crombie
It has been a long wait for this book, the 14th in her series featuring police detectives Duncan Kinkaid and Gemma James. The last book, Necessary as Blood, was published in September 2009. It will be an even longer wait for the American edition of this new book, which won't be released until February 2012. I was going to be good and wait for it, until I saw an email from Murder by the Book announcing that they had the U.K. edition for sale. I was therefore able to buy local, support my favorite indie bookstore, and still get to read the book six months earlier than expected - a winning situation all around. From the comments I've seen on Deborah Crombie's blog, quite a few U.S. readers already have the book. I hope that her American publishers take note of this.
I found this series a few years ago at the library. I was wandering through the mystery section, and the cover of Now May You Weep caught my eye. I took it home and started reading it straight off. Almost immediately I knew I wanted to read the earlier books (it is 9th in the series), which were luckily all in paperback by that point. So I had the excitement of reading through the series, and then the impatience of waiting for the next book.
The series centers, in every way, on Duncan and Gemma. They originally worked together at Scotland Yard, where Duncan is a Detective Superintendent and Gemma was his sergeant. As their working relationship developed it became personal and complicated, in part because of the need to keep it secret. Only when Gemma was promoted to inspector and moved to another assignment were they able to make the relationship public. Though they are now in different divisions, cases frequently bring them together professionally. They both have sons from previous marriages, and in the last book they took in a foster child, part of the case they were working involving immigrants in London's East End. Their personal life remains complicated, by past history and by their demanding jobs, but they have built a true partnership and a family. They are both appealing, interesting characters, who feel very true to life.
No Mark Upon Her takes place in and around Henley, where rowers are training for the Olympic trials. Among them is Becca Meredith, who goes out alone one evening in her scull and does not return. It is only after her body is discovered and he has been assigned to the case that Duncan learns that she was also a fellow police officer. Is her death related to her rowing, to her police work, or to her personal life? When Duncan discovers that Becca had accused a senior officer of sexual assault, that the case was hushed up, but that there might be other victims, Gemma is drawn to investigate that angle, though unofficially since she is on family leave to care for their new daughter. This is a complex story, with a large cast of characters and several red herrings, which builds to an explosive conclusion. The ending of the book is a bit ambiguous, though, as Duncan prepares to take his turn on family leave, while Gemma is offered a promotion. The next book should be an interesting one, and I'm already looking forward to it.