Duncan Kincaid is enjoying some holiday time with his family, preparing for an extended family leave of absence, when Denis Childs summons the Scotland Yard superintendent to a murder scene. It doesn't take long for Kincaid to uncover why Childs insisted he look into the case.
A young woman is reported missing by her ex-husband; she hasn't been seen since the previous evening when she set out to row on the Thames in her Filippi. Once an Olympic hopeful, Becca Meredith set her eyes on the possibility of a comeback and had been rowing each night at dusk. To have a serious chance at that dream, however, it would mean leaving her position as a high-ranking detective with the Met and focusing entirely on her training.
Becca never has a chance to make that decision; she's found dead in the water the next day by a K-9 Search and Rescue Team. While Childs would like nothing better than Kincaid to declare the death an accident, an apparent attempt on the life of one of the Search and Rescue team members makes that possibility seem less and less likely. And when Kincaid uncovers a controversy Becca was involved in at the Met, a whole new can of worms is opened, spilling out new suspects in her murder.
Deborah Crombie continues her long-running Duncan Kincaid/Gemma James series with No Mark Upon Her, the fourteenth installment. However, this is my starting point in the series and I had no problems jumping right into the lives of this newlywed couple of UK law enforcement agents. Crombie does an excellent job of balancing the personal and professional lives of the protagonists so that the reader is as invested in them as people as they are in the suspense of the crime.
Another major strength of No Mark Upon Her is Crombie's female characters. Crombie shows how a strong, smart, gifted woman can also be a compassionate mother, a devoted wife or a true friend. She illustrates the foibles as well as the perfections and the results are characters we can identify with and empathize with. Mirroring these wonderful women are men defying stereotype: the nurturing father, the struggling war veteran, the awkward new homeowner, the supportive ex-husband. These people could be living next door to you.
Long-time series readers will likely pick up on nuances with the Kincaid/James couple that newbie readers miss, but it doesn't diminish the enjoyment of No Mark Upon Her. This is a book that will captivate new and veteran Crombie fans alike. The plot is well-constructed with a fascinating look at both the sport of rowing and the K-9 Search and Rescue programs. The layers of the victim's life provide plenty of believable suspects for her murder, keeping the suspense high and the momentum moving.
Crombie won a convert with No Mark Upon Her. I'll certainly be indulging in more Duncan Kincaid and Gemma James.
No Mark Upon Her is available from William Morrow in both hardcover (ISBN: 9780061990618) and now paperback (ISBN: 9780061990625). It is also available from Harper Audio as an unabridged audio (ISBN: 9780062208927) narrated by Gerard Doyle.
My review of No Mark Upon Her kicks off the TLC blog tour for new paperback version of No Mark Upon Her. You can check out what other readers on the tour had to say about the novel by visiting the TLC site. You can connect with Deborah Crombie at her website, on Facebook, Twitter or even blogging with the gals at Jungle Red Writers. And if you missed Debs' Five on Friday here at Jen's Book Thoughts, be sure to check it out...she shares her favorite car and a photo from her trip here to Cleveland for the 2012 Bouchercon!