Thursday, April 28, 2011

In a Dark House by Deborah Crombie

34. In a Dark House - tenth in the Duncan Kincaid/Gemma James series
by Deborah Crombie
mystery, 2004
Kindle book - 19
finished, 4/21/11

This book was the most disturbing so far in the series. Though not the focus of In a Dark House, we learn that Gemma is haunted by an unsolved case in which a six year old girl simply disappeared. And now there is an unrelated case of a young girl who is kidnapped and locked in a room. The reader sees her situation from her point of view which makes it all the more upsetting. We also view fires from the point of view of an arsonist. I never enjoy being inside the head of a crazy criminal. A woman's shelter features in the book, which proves to be not as sheltering as it should be. On a nicer note, the reader's old friend, Winifred from A Finer End is working in London for a short time, and becomes involved in the life of a house-bound parishioner whose roommate has disappeared; just one of several disappearances, any of whom could be the body found in a burnt-out building. So you see, there is a lot going on in this book. And as always, the author connects everyone and does it in a most believable way. All in all, not such a cheery, easy read for me, but still an excellent book.

In addition to the crimes, there is an upcoming event in the lives of Duncan and Gemma which could turn their world upside down.

There are chapter heading quotes from Charles Dickens since this book takes place in 'his' part of London - Southwark. If you are lucky enough to live in, or visit London, and if you love Dickens there are walking tours through this area.

The book contains a great map. You may click for greater detail. The maps in Deborah Crombie's books are all drawn by Laura Hartman Maestro.

From the author's website:
Deborah Crombie and Laura Hartman Maestro began collaborating on illustrated maps for the series novels in 1999. Laura’s illustrations have graced five inside covers of Deborah’s books: Water Like a Stone, In A Dark House, Now May You Weep, A Finer End and Kissed A Sad Goodbye.

Before the first drop of ink touches the paper, Deborah sends Laura an advance copy of the manuscript tagged with suggestions for emphasis, maps of the area, and photographs of recognizable landmarks that are featured prominently in the book.

After conferring with Deborah, Laura submits a preliminary pencil drawing. Because Laura draws the maps by hand, rather than digitally, she takes great care in the preparation of the illustration. Once Deborah reviews the penciled illustration and they discuss the final details, Laura begins the ink version. The creation of these charming maps takes about three weeks.

With the help of Laura’s maps, readers have retraced Duncan and Gemma’s footsteps throughout the environs of east and south London, Glastonbury, the Scottish Highlands, and Cheshire, visiting the scenes of the crimes and the landmarks that figure prominently in the books.
I was asked if the Kindle offers the maps, and it does, but they are small. I prefer to visit the website and enlarge them to see the fine details. I love these maps. And, as you know, I love these books.


  1. Like you, I do not enjoy reading from a crazy criminal's perspective, but I understand an author's need or want to add this extra dimension to their story.
    Don't you just love maps in books? While I was reading the "Falco" series by Lindsey Davis, I often made use of the map of Imperial Rome so conveniently printed on the first few pages of the book.

  2. Librarian, I sure do love maps!


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