No Mark Upon Her

Thanks to TLC Book Tours, we're pleased to present a review for the newest book in the Duncak Kincaid and Gemma James mystery series, No Mark Upon Her, by Deborah Crombie.

By Deborah Crombie
Published on February 5, 2013
Published by: William Morrow & Company
Source: Finished copy from publisher
New York Times Notable author Deborah Crombie is regularly named among the greats of British-set crime fiction (P.D. James, Ruth Rendell, Elizabeth George et al) for her riveting police procedurals featuring Duncan Kincaid and Gemma James, Scotland Yard partners as well as devoted life-mates. A brilliantly conceived and executed, deeply atmospheric mystery, No Mark Upon Her embroils Kincaid and James in the case of the puzzling drowning of a rower, a Met detective, on the Thames. A finely-hued and twisting tale of psychological suspense--a story rich in deadly secrets, salacious lies, and unexpected betrayals--No Mark Upon Her is everything Crombie's fans have come to expect from this exceptional writer...and more.
This book has just raised the bar for mysteries and crime stories for me. Set in contemporary London, No Mark Upon Her delves deep into the world of both competitive rowing and cover-ups for the latest entry into the series of crime fiction novels centering around Duncan Kinkaid and Gemma James, of Scotland Yard.  While this is the fourteenth novel starring the duo, there are enough background details given that a new reader like myself is not left too confused, and although not every bit of backstory is reinforced, there are enough references and call-backs to previous books that I found myself wanting to search for all of them to read the past stories, too.

There are a lot of details in this book about rowing and the culture surrounding the sport, but to me, they never get boring.  It's a sport that I enjoy watching but know nothing about, and the book presents these facts in a way that is streamlined with the story and never feels like info-dumping.  You're also introduced to a lot of characters, both ones close to Duncan and Gemma who are probably recurring throughout the series, and ones who are specific to this crime investigation.  It can be a bit tough to keep them straight at first, especially as so many of their lives are interwoven together, but it gets easier as the story goes on.  Although the book is long, it is fast paced and a real page turner, as everyone tries to get to the bottom of what happened to rower Rebecca Meredith.

Duncan and Gemma are both interesting characters.  Gemma takes a bit of a backseat during this investigation, but she still manages to get involved in tracking down other leads.  I enjoyed the glimpses into their home life as the just-married couple with a newly adopted daughter try to juggle home and work.  They're not perfect, but no one is, and even just in one book you can tell how deeply they care for one another, and how well they work together, both personally and professionally.  It's a nice change of pace to read about a functional, loving adult couple who are both equally competent at what they do.

The crime aspect of this novel is also full of twists and turns.  Mysteries are often pretty formulaic and easy to guess the guilty party, but this one has lots of different people with motive and means to commit the murder, and I was definitely kept guessing almost the entire time.  The author does a great job of making you care about even the most peripheral of characters, and you really want to get to the bottom of things to get justice for Rebecca.

I would recommend this to anyone who enjoys a good mystery or crime novel, even if you've never read any of the previous books in the series.  I will definitely be putting the rest of the series on my to-read list for the future!  As expected in most contemporary adult mysteries/crime stories, there is some profanity, violence, and references to sexual content.

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