Only five years on the scene, Texan Crombie’s emotionally intense, quietly yet exquisitely wrought gems have taken on new brilliance with each offering to reach the effulgent Dreaming of the Bones. Imagined in and near a claustrophobic Cambridge where town and gown still clash, the Edgar-nominated Bones harks back to Rupert Brooke and a fictional descendant, the 1960s confessional poet Lydia. The ironically titled All Shall Be Well (1993) stands on an imaginative premise worthy of Tey as a mortally ill woman lies peacefully but prematurely dead. While these cases come to Superintendent Duncan Kincaid from his personal life, Crombie is careful to remind us he and Sergeant Gemma James are professional detectives pursing ordinary police work. Comparisons with Martha Grimes and Elizabeth George are inevitable, and in Crombie’s favour, as she avoids exposition, excess and eccentricity, yet allows her sleuths to tread a prickly path towards intimacy.
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