Thursday, 14 January 2016

A Share in Death - Deborah Crombie

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Discovering the first in the long series.

As said earlier, I am a big fan of Crombie. Having read her latest, I decided to backtrack and read her earlier novels. This is the first in the series and it was interesting to read about the fledgling characters of Kincaid and James.

I have to admit though, after reading the later ones which are more fulfilling in terms of character development and plots, this one comes across as a more "amateur" effort.

The plot is fairly straightforward and the characters of Kincaid and James are just finding their feet on the ground. But what makes it interesting is to see how these budding character were before their personas develop into complex, sophisticated entities.


Duncan Kincaid is on holiday at the timeshare hotel in Yorkshire. When one of the hotel staff is found dead under suspicious circumstances, the Scotland Yard super is thrown into the midst of it. Duncan has a tough job of mediating between the guests who single him out for being a copper and with the local police who do not like him treading their patch.

There is a slew of characters who inhabit the hotel - A young family, a politically ambitious couple, a set of two sisters and a father-daughter family who are all suspects.

Matters escalate when a hotel guest is found murdered and Kincaid realises he  needs to up his game to stop the killer from murdering again.

Kincaid enlists the help of his work partner Gemma Jones to do the legwork which he tries to figure out the next victim and the killer.

What works:
  • This story offers insight about the characters and the plot develop with each novel. 
  • It is an interesting read for anyone who wants to know how the characters are developed.
  • Though slightly amateurish, it flows well and at 200+ pages it is a quick read.
What doesn't:
  • In comparison to her later works, this looks very simplistic and basic. There are no complex layers that are a distinct feature in her works.
  • It feels more like a crime novella than a novel. Having read the subsequent novels, I was aware of characters developments and this one felt like visiting their younger selves. However, for someone reading it as their first introduction to the series, it may feel like a morsel instead of a meal.
  • Just as every first effort shows off some influence of the greats who have trodden the path before, this story follows classic Agatha Christie pattern. Some obvious indications are - 
1) a number of guests have various reasons to be secretive. 

2) The eureka moment when it all comes together to Kincaid about the who, what and why also seems heavily influenced by the Agatha Christie.
    I picked it up when looking for a quick dose of crime fiction.

    It is short and sweet: just right for me at the moment.

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