Deborah Crombie is a New York Times bestselling author and a native Texan who has lived in both England and Scotland. She now lives in McKinney, Texas, sharing a house that is more than one hundred years old with her husband, three cats, and two German shepherds.
This American author follows the successful debut of A Share in Death ( LJ 1/93) with another Scotland Yard procedural featuring Supt. Duncan Kincaid and Sgt. Gemma James. When the autopsy of Duncan's terminally ill neighbor indicates a drug overdose, Kincaid must determine whether the death was murder or suicide.
Written with compassion, clarity, wit and precision, this graceful mystery amply fulfills the promise of Crombie's debut novel, A Share in Death. ``Morphine coats the mind like peach fuzz,'' thinks Jasmine Dent, a 50-year-old spinster born in India who is dying in London of lung cancer. Her death resembles suicide but leaves her friend and neighbor from the flat above, Scotland Yard Supt. Duncan Kincaid, uneasy. The postmortem he orders reveals an overdose of morphine, prompting him and his sergeant, hot-tempered, copper-haired Gemma James, on a thorough investigation. Suspects include 30-ish, disheveled Meg Bellamy, a timid friend with whom Jasmine had considered suicide, and the downstairs neighbor known as the Major, a veteran of the Muslim-Hindu clashes in Calcutta in 1946 and an avid gardener with whom Jasmine had often sat ``like two old dogs in the sun.'' Others include Meg's stunningly handsome, bullying beau Roger, who urged that she help Jasmine end her life; Felicity Howarth, Jasmine's faithful home-care nurse who slaves to keep her brain-damaged son in an institution; and Jasmine's weak-willed brother Theo, owner of a village junk shop who has failed at every venture he's tried. Helped by Jasmine's journal and a visit to a mental hospital, the clues finally click into place to reveal the culprit. Meg makes a decision that promises hope for two people, while Gemma and Duncan, both unlucky in love, move closer to each other. (Mar.)