Readers had to wait two years for the latest Deborah Crombie book, “Garden Of Lamentations,” but it was well worth it. This plot follows the unanswered questions from Crombie’s last novel, “Dwell In Darkness.” People might remember how Detective Superintendent Duncan Kincaid had not solved the loose ends in the last novel. He is still troubled by a grenade attack, a devastating fire and the odd behavior of his boss, Chief Superintendent Denis Childs.
The author had the idea from “an article about the undercover British police officers for the special branch,” she said. “It referred to the abuse of power by the police with no oversight. I thought it fascinating to explore those who thought it morally wrong to do what they were asked to do. They had undercover spies in campaign groups.”
Crombie explained the long delay: “This book just was really hard to write. I struggled in how I would wrap up the continuing story arc. It was hard to figure out how all the different parts of the story would fit together and how other parts would be resolved. I did not want to make it boring for those who read the previous books and to make sense for those who would read it as a stand-alone. It is really a delicate balance to provide the backstory without slowing the current plot down.”
All the unanswered questions come to a resolution in this story, including Kincaid’s investigation of police corruption. But there are also sub-plots that stand on their own. His wife, Detective Inspector Gemma James is investigating the death of a young nanny in the locked Cornwall Gardens, in Notting Hill. These two investigations create an intense mystery, especially since their lack of communication added to the tension in the novel.
“I made the Gardens fictional,” Crombie said. “The general place is now a housing complex at this stop. I used my writer’s power to make the place pretty. It serves as a character in the book. I chose to make the houses and gardens the way I wanted.”
Duncan and James are no longer working together, which meant that they didn’t interact very much throughout the book. He is hiding his growing suspicions for fear of endangering his family, which creates an emotional divide between them. Gemma misreads her husband’s attempt to protect her, believing instead that they are drifting apart, originally caused when they started to each put their career and children before one other.
“Relationships take a beating in this book: Duncan and Gemma, Duncan and Doug, Doug and Melody,” Crombie said. “I am thinking in the next book to send them off to the country house of Melody’s parents where they must all work together to solve a case.”
This novel has plenty of twists and surprises involving the cautionary tale about the abuse of power. It is not only plot driven, but also character driven, where both the relationships and story make for an intense read.