FROM THE NEW YORK TIMES BOOK REVIEW
What a smart change of pace for Deborah Crombie in A BITTER FEAST (Morrow, $25.99), a classic village whodunit that challenges her sophisticated city sleuths, Detective Superintendent Duncan Kincaid of Scotland Yard and his wife, Detective Inspector Gemma James. This power couple is supposed to be enjoying a restful weekend in the bucolic Cotswolds, but a fatal road accident and a series of suspicious deaths swiftly shatter the peace at their host’s country house.
Crombie has a deft hand with plot, and this one is enriched by characters like Viv Holland, the gifted chef at the local pub, and Fergus O’Reilly, who becomes a person of interest because he looks good in a fedora. But the book’s beauty is in its descriptions of pastoral life: the handsome dogs, the luscious meals and, best of all, the glorious gardens. Murder has some damn nerve, disrupting the tranquillity of such a heavenly place.
I was thrilled to receive this novel from NetGalley and HarperCollins in exchange for an honest review. I have read every book in this series of very British mysteries that, surprisingly, are written by an American author who lives in Texas. A Bitter Feast is book 18 in this fine series that has deepened over time. If you can, read the books in order for the people, the history and the relationships but, if you can’t, this could be read as a standalone.
Detectives Duncan Kincaid and Gemma Jones, who married many books ago, are invited to the country with their three children (Backstories on the children appear in earlier books as only one is the shared child of both Gemma and Duncan). They are invited by another police officer, Melody Talbot (again backstory in earlier novels), to her parents beautiful Cotswold home for the weekend. The descriptions of the countryside and the house will make you wish that you could hop a plane, unless you already live in Britain.
Of course, there are murders. There is also lots of food as chefs are important characters in the story. Why was a famous chef murdered? Why was his demise followed by others? And of course, whodunnit? I thought that I knew but I was wrong.
My only regret upon finishing A Bitter Feast was knowing that I now have to again begin the wait for the next book by this author. If you like traditional British mysteries/police procedurals, I highly recommend.