June 19, 2012

Audio Review: Deborah Crombie


June is National Audio Book Month. It's a great excuse for me to listen to even more audio books than usual - because I love 'em so much!

I've really been enjoying Deborah Crombie's books lately. They're police procedurals, starring Scotland Yard Superintendent Duncan Kincaid, and his sidekick/sergeant/love interest Gemma James. I grabbed the first book in the series, A Share in Death, on a whim at the library. It had a rather 'cozy' feel to it because Kincaid was on vacation, and Gemma was in this book far less than any of the others.

Kincaid, although using his cousin's timeshare in a grand Yorkshire mansion, can't help but start policing when a body turns up in the swimming pool. I enjoyed Kincaid's thoughtful conversations with his fellow guests, and how he delicately managed to be involved with the case in spite of the resentment of the Yorkshire police at his supposed "interference".

The audio production was well done - Michael Deehy's voice is smooth and pleasant, and I liked his rendition of the different Yorkshire/English accents.

A Share in Death was surprisingly cohesive for the first of a series starring co-detectives. I got the feeling that Gemma and Kincaid had been partners for a long time already, almost like I'd accidentally started reading mid-series. I liked how Crombie aptly created back stories for each of them -- a divorce for Kincaid and divorce/single motherhood for Gemma-- without hammering in the details via expository dialogue. And, I'm impressed at how accurately Crombie conjures up British life, considering that she's a native Texan!

Having enjoyed the first one, I snagged books 2 and 3 on audio book from the library as well, and was happy to be rewarded with more enjoyable mysteries, and a deepening of the romantic interest between Gemma and Kincaid. But yesterday I finished book 5, Dreaming of the Bones, which I think leapt to a whole new level. It was quite literally a literary mystery - Kincaid is drawn into investigating the death of a poet, Lydia Brooke. Lydia had been depressed for years, and so everyone took her apparent suicide at face value, until Kincaid's ex-wife Victoria started writing her biography. Vic begins to suspect that Lydia's death was actually murder, and asks Kincaid to help her investigate. Gemma isn't happy about Kincaid buddying up with his ex-wife, and Kincaid himself must face some startling personal choices. The story flashes back and forth between Lydia's life as a student in the 1960s, Kincaid and Vic's marriage 12 years earlier, and present day Cambridge.

I really, really liked Dreaming of the Bones, and I'm actually glad that I just had a paperback copy of it, instead of the audio book. I would've been too impatient to listen to the whole thing!

Rating: A Share in Death 4 out of 5
Rating: Dreaming of the Bones 4.7 out of 5
Should I recommend them to my grandma? Sure! There's a little profanity here and there, but they're more on the cozy end of the mystery spectrum - no graphic crime details, etc.

Have you read Deborah Crombie? Have you ever been frustrated by the slow pace of a suspenseful audiobook?

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