Monday, April 8, 2013
On a blisteringly hot August afternoon in Crystal Palace, once home to the tragically destroyed Great Exhibition, a solitary thirteen-year-old boy meets his next-door neighbor, a recently widowed young teacher hoping to make a new start in the tight-knit South London community. Drawn together by loneliness, the unlikely pair forms a deep connection that ends in a shattering act of betrayal.
In the present . . .
On a cold January morning in London, Detective Inspector Gemma James is back on the job now that her husband, Detective Superintendent Duncan Kincaid, is at home to care for their three-year-old foster daughter. Assigned to lead a Murder Investigation Team in South London, she's assisted by her trusted colleague, newly promoted Detective Sergeant Melody Talbot. Their first case: a crime scene at a seedy hotel in Crystal Palace. The victim: a well-respected barrister, found naked, trussed, and apparently strangled. Is it an unsavory accident or murder? In either case, he was not alone, and Gemma's team must find his companion—a search that takes them into unexpected corners and forces them to contemplate unsettling truths about the weaknesses and passions that lead to murder. Ultimately, they will begin to question everything they think they know about their world and those they trust most. -- Harper Audio
Not quite a year ago, I listened to NO MARK UPON HER by Deborah Crombie -- my review. While I normally like to start mystery series at the beginning, I had heard wonderful things about this author and figured I needed to start "now or never." Fortunately, I had no issues following the characters or the storyline; however, I did find that I enjoyed the novel so much that I wanted to go back and read the first thirteen in the series.
It's probably no surprise that I didn't find the time to go back and start the series from the beginning.. but I promised myself that I'd read all of the new books. So it was with much excitement that I loaded THE SOUND OF BROKEN GLASS on my iPhone and recently listened to it during my morning workouts. Ms. Crombie has done it again! THE SOUND OF BROKEN GLASS was an intriguing mystery that kept me guessing for the entire story.
THE SOUND OF BROKEN GLASS picks up shortly after NO MARK UPON HER left off. However, this novel works as a stand-alone; and Ms. Crombie fills the reader in on all the pertinent past events. The story goes back and forth between the past when a young boy becomes friends with his widowed neighbor and the present when two related murders occur. The reader knows these events are all related, but the question is, "How?"
The first victim is a lawyer who is found in a questionable hotel. He is naked and tied up, and the detectives initially wonder if it is a murder or something that went wrong during a sexual encounter. Detective Inspector Gemma James and her coworker Melody Talbot start digging into who could have been in the hotel room with the lawyer. Then, another barrister is found dead in a similar fashion; and they police detectives must find a common clue between the two victims. As they search for the murderer, they discover a few potential suspects; however, the truth lies in past even that is much more complex than they ever could have imagined.
I thought Ms. Crombie did a wonderful job of setting up this mystery and gradually revealing clues to the reader. Personally, I enjoyed "investigating" the case with Gemma and Melody; and I liked all of the twists and turns of the mystery. I didn't figure out the culprit until near the end of the story -- basically when the people I thought were involved were ruled out as suspects; however, I do think many readers will be able to figure out the mystery pretty early on. Looking back, I'm a little embarrassed that I wasn't more astute!
In addition the the mystery, I also really appreciated the characters in the novel. Not only were the people involved in the murder pretty interesting, but I also liked the detectives involved, namely Gemma and Melody. Gemma is back from her time away from the job, and I liked seeing her female approach to crime solving. Of course, even though her husband Duncan is on leave, he still managed to assist Gemma in her investigation. However, it was Melody that I really found intriguing in this novel. Melody becomes romantically involved with one of the suspects, and I thought her attempt to balance her professional and personal life was precarious to say the least. I'm extremely curious to see what the next steps are for all of these characters in future books in the series.
Probably the best thing to me about THE SOUND OF BROKEN GLASS was how it examined the good and bad sides of human nature. I loved how the author delved into motivations and actions of the characters, and demonstrated the effects of the past on the present. There really was some insightful social commentary about bullying, deceit, and class divisions.
I listened to the audio version of THE SOUND OF BROKEN GLASS and I thought it was an excellent products. Once again, Gerard Doyle read the story and I thought he did an outstanding job. I loved his variety of accents and I've come to equate him with Deborah Crombie novels.
THE SOUND OF BROKEN GLASS would make a fantastic book club selection if you are looking for a mystery. Naturally, I was impressed by the mystery, but the real beauty of these novels lie in the characters and their motivations. As a result, there is plenty to discuss as you can clearly see in the reading guide. Some of the themes you might want to explore include revenge, love, obligation, work vs. family life, sacrifice, class structure, forgiveness, and redemption.
I definitely consider myself a fan of Ms. Crombie's and I am anxiously awaiting the next novel in this series. I'd like to say that I'll go back and read the first thirteen books, but who am I kidding?
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.