Monday, June 25, 2012

Review: No Mark Upon Her (Audio)

Summary: New York Times bestselling author Deborah Crombie makes her mark with this absorbing, finely hued tale of suspense—a deeply atmospheric and twisting mystery full of deadly secrets, salacious lies, and unexpected betrayals involving the mysterious drowning of a Met detective—an accomplished rower—on the Thames. 

When a K9 search-and-rescue team discovers a woman's body tangled up with debris in the river, Scotland Yard superintendent Duncan Kincaid finds himself heading an investigation fraught with complications. The victim, Rebecca Meredith, was a talented but difficult woman with many admirers—and just as many enemies. An Olympic contender on the verge of a controversial comeback, she was also a high-ranking detective with the Met—a fact that raises a host of political and ethical issues in an already sensitive case. 

To further complicate the situation, a separate investigation, led by Detective Inspector Gemma James, Kincaid's wife, soon reveals a disturbing—and possibly related—series of crimes, widening the field of suspects. But when someone tries to kill the search-and-rescue team member who found Rebecca's body, the case becomes even more complex and dangerous, involving powerful interests with tentacles that reach deep into the heart of the Met itself. 

Surrounded by enemies with friendly faces, pressured to find answers quickly while protecting the Yard at all costs, his career and reputation on the line, Kincaid must race to catch the killer before more innocent lives are lost—including his own. -- HarperAudio

I have been wanting to read a book by Deborah Crombie for some time, but I have been reluctant to pick one up because I don't really love starting series in the middle. However, I was assured by some friends that I would really like her books, and I shouldn't hesitate to read one... even if that meant reading them out of order. So I decided to not only begin with her latest mystery novel NO MARK UPON HER, but I also chose to read it as an audio book. Pretty daring for me, right?

I have to give my friends some credit because I really enjoyed NO MARK UPON HER. In fact, I am wondering why I never discovered Ms. Crombie's books prior to this one. Ms. Crombie is a Macavity Award winning author, and NO MARK UPON HER is the fourteenth book starring Duncan Kincaid and Gemma James. I really appreciated her writing style, especially the complex mystery; and I loved her character development. I will not hesitate to pick up more of her books, and fortunately, there are thirteen more that I can now explore.

NO MARK UPON HER begins when a female Met detective Rebecca Meredith, who also a rower training for an Olympic comeback , is found dead along the Thames River. Her death appears to suspicious, and Duncan Kincaid is handed the investigation. There are a variety of potential suspects, including her ex-husband; however, Duncan doesn't believe he's to blame. When Duncan's wife Gemma James turns up some clues in a separate investigation that might tie-in to Rebecca's death, Duncan fears that the deception and secrets might exist amongst some high ranking officials in the Met. Duncan sets out to determine the truth and reveal the cover-up, yet he also has to worry about protecting his career and his family.

NO MARK UPON HER has everything I look for in a great mystery, and I absolutely loved it. The mystery itself was excellent with many twists and turns; and I was honestly kept in the dark for almost the entire story. I appreciated that there were so many suspects and I loved seeing how Duncan (and Gemma) used their investigative skills to find the person (or persons) responsible. Just when I thought I had things figured out (much like the characters in the story), there were new clues revealed that made me rethink everything. I loved how this novel played with my mind!

In addition, I liked the characters in this story, namely Duncan and Gemma. I enjoyed how their relationship was portrayed as well as their family life, and I think it was a fantastic juxtaposition to the horrors they faced in their everyday jobs. I liked that there was a fair amount of information about their personal lives woven into the story, and I felt as if I truly go to "know" them. The author did an outstanding job of making NO MARK UPON HER work as a standalone; however, she did include some references to their past cases. This information served to explain the characters' backgrounds and actions, and it actually made me want to go back and learn more about their prior cases and their personal lives.

One element of the story that I really enjoyed was how it delved into the world of competitive rowing. It's evident that Ms. Crombie did a lot of research on the subject matter (or was familiar with it prior to writing the book.) She did a fabulous job of bringing this world to life and I loved all of her descriptions of the rowers, the boats, and even the boat houses. I found all of it just fascinating!

NO MARK UPON HER was performed by Gerard Doyle. This won't come as a surprise to any of you, but he was a new-to-me narrator. (I say this because I still consider myself a newbie to audio books!) I appreciated his performance and thought he did a wonderful job with the different accents.

I was happy to see that there is a reading guide for NO MARK UPON HER because I think this book would be great for discussion (and something a little different for most book clubs.) Because Ms. Crombie does deal with a lot of family issues in her story as well as character development, there is actually more to discuss in this novel than a typical mystery. Some of the themes you might want to explore a little further include family, love, and secrets; however, you can also discuss the theme of rowing along with what's in store for Duncan's career.

Overall, I loved NO MARK UPON HER and I can see why Ms. Crombie has such a huge fan base. I am looking forward to reading more of her mysteries!

Thanks to the publisher for providing a review copy of this audio book.

Mystery Mondays is a regular feature where I review all types of mystery books -- traditional mysteries, suspense/thrillers, and even cozies! Please feel free to share your thoughts on any recent mystery books that you've read.


rhapsodyinbooks said...

This one was also my first in the series and I had no problem with it, although once I saw how much I liked it I wished I had started at the beginning! I especially liked the dog team and hope they will be back in future books!

bermudaonion said...

Don't you just love discovering a new author like that? I've never read Crombie's work either but it sounds like I should!!

Serena said...

I haven't read this yet, though I do have a copy in print. I was thinking about sending this one to my mom, but maybe I'll read it first.

Unknown said...

This was the first book by Deborah Crombie that I read and I Loved so much about it. The characters, their backgrounds the setting, the K-9 team, the rowing (something I participated in in college), the detectives and their family. And I loved the twists and turns in the story!

I'm so glad you enjoyed this book. Great review!

Unknown said...

Thank you for convincing me to move this book back to my nightstand! I was scared away by jumping into the middle as well, but now, not so much.

Jen (Devourer of Books) said...

I love when a narrator can do justice to a range of accents!