Saturday, August 16, 2008

REVIEW: Dreaming of the Bones

Title: Dreaming of the Bones
Author: Deborah Crombie
ISBN: 9780061150401
Protagonist(s): Scotland Yard Inspector Duncan Kincaid and Sergeant Gemma James
Setting: present-day Grantchester and Cambridge, England
Series: #5
Rating: A+

First Line: The post slid through the letter box, cascading onto the tile floor of the entry hall with a sound like the wind rustling through bamboo.

Duncan Kincaid's wife walked out on him over ten years ago, so it's a total shock when she gets in touch with him. Now a Cambridge University professor, Victoria McClellan has remarried and has a young son, Kit. She's also deeply involved in writing the biography of Lydia Brooke, a poet who committed suicide five years before. The more she researches Brooke's life, the more convinced she is that the poet did not commit suicide, and this is the main reason why she's gotten in touch with Duncan. Is there any way he can check into this and find information to prove that she's right? Her reappearance has long-lasting repercussions that will resonate long after the time frame of this book.

I can see why Dreaming of the Bones was nominated for several awards. Crombie is a master juggler in this fifth book in the series. Not only do the lives of the main characters, Kincaid and James, continue to intertwine and grow, she brings in a completely new cast of characters and brings each of them to life as well: Duncan's ex-wife Victoria; Victoria's young son Kit; Lydia's friends Darcy, Nathan, Daphne and Adam; Lydia's ex-husband Morgan; Darcy's mother Dame Marjory Lester. Not only is the cast of characters large, so are the various threads of the plot. As interesting as each character was, I was also fascinated with how skillfully Crombie wove all those plot threads together into a page-turning tapestry. How is the relationship between Kincaid and James going to weather his ex-wife's request? Is Victoria correct in believing that Brooke was murdered? How do each of Brooke's friends figure into this? Is Brooke's life interesting enough for a full-scale biography? Will this biography further Victoria's career at Cambridge?

All of these characters, all of these plot lines, are delineated and woven together in a mesmerizing book. All I could say when I'd finished the last page was, "Wow...." Never underestimate the power of bookaholics and the Internet. I'd been studiously ignoring this series for years, but after reading a friend's glowing reviews time after time, I finally decided to try one. Thank you for being persistent, friend. Sometimes I'm too stubborn for words!

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