>> Saturday, August 25, 2012
A week's holiday in a luxurious Yorkshire time-share is just what Scotland Yard's Superintendent Duncan Kincaid needs. But the discovery of a body floating in the whirlpool bath ends Kincaid's vacation before it's begun. One of his new acquaintances at Followdale House is dead; another is a killer. Despite a distinct lack of cooperation from the local constabulary, Kincaid's keen sense of duty won't allow him to ignore the heinous crime, impelling him to send for his enthusiastic young assistant, Sergeant Gemma James. But the stakes are raised dramatically when a second murder occurs, and Kincaid and James find themselves in a determined hunt for a fiendish felon who enjoys homicide a bit too much.Newly-minted Superintendent Duncan Kincaid has just come off a grueling case. When his cousin offers him the chance to use his week at a time-share in a luxury villa-type place in Yorkshire, it sounds like a good idea. And initially, it is. The place is beautiful, the weather is great, and the other guests (or rather, owners, this being a time-share) are quite diverse, which makes for an interesting time observing them.
All is well until the morning, when the corpse of one of those people he's just met is discovered in the pool. The inept and bullying local Inspector thinks it's a suicide, but Kincaid is certain from the start that it wasn't. He doesn't mean to take over the case, but he keeps coming across relevant evidence, and talking to people who happen to say relevant things. And then a second person is killed, and there's no doubt that one is a murder.
Meh. This was a quick read, and to its credit, it entertained me enough to keep me turning the pages, but it just wasn't very good. It's predictable, with plot "twists" telegraphed and no real surprises, and I had issues with the writing and characterisation. There are some moments that read a bit awkwardly, and a few characters that didn't ring true and acted in ways that defied my suspension of disbelief (especially the policeman formally in charge of the investigation, Nash, who crossed the line into unbelievable cartoon in his bizarre and naked hostility to Kincaid).
There were also a couple of WTF moments, like when a female suspect is being interrogated by Kincaid about a particular encounter with another suspect, her lover, with whom she was trying to end things. From what she tells Kincaid, he punched her (she has a black eye), and she says she wasn't exactly willing when they had sex. Kincaid doesn't seem to disbelieve her, but he doesn't even react. Mate, the woman is reporting a rape, and she was beaten up! And you do nothing?
The British setting also felt a bit off. Within 50 pages I was convinced the author was American, and looking at the bio, I was right. It's not awful, and it's hard to pinpoint issues (apart from language -sweater, etc.- and everyone's confident expectation that the weather would be nice, and in Yorkshire, in September!) but it's pretty obvious, even to someone who's only lived here for a few years.
On the basis of just this book, which was, quite simply, mediocre, I wouldn't continue reading the series. The thing is, I've heard really good things about the series as a whole, and some books have been nominated for big prizes, so I expect it improves. When I was reading about the series, I saw it referred as the Gemma Jones series in some places (Gemma is Kincaid's sergeant, who asssists him in the investigation here, but remains a distinctly minor character), and there's supposed to be a nice, slowly-developing relationship between her and Kincaid, which could be interesting. So anyway, I would very much appreciate feedback about how quickly the series improves and how good it gets, to see if it's worth investing the time. Too many other series to try, otherwise!
MY GRADE: A C+ (with the plus being for the readability).