In this 15th outing between her now-married detective pair of Gemma James and Duncan Kincaid, The Sound of Broken Glass remains firmly rooted in foggy London in the Crystal Palace area. Chapter epigraphs, a device Auntie M highly enjoys, all pertain to the history and destruction of the Crystal Palace building that gave the area its name.
Crombie has kept the series fresh and humanizing by moving along the personal relationships in the Kincaid household and allowing for the growth of the marriage between the main characters. With the addition to their family of a three year-old foster daughter, Charlotte, it is Duncan’s turn to be at home to assist the traumatized little girl through her integration into their family and a more normal life. These moments remind us that police men and women have families of their own, whose absences are noted when normal routines must be adjusted around the demands of a murder investigation.
The main case belongs to Gemma this time, aided by DS Melody Talbot. They investigate the murder of a barrister who has been taking sole care of his wife, suffering from increasing dementia. The body of Vincent Arnott is found in a seedy hotel in the Crystal Palace area, naked, trussed and strangled. The contrast between the man’s public and private faces becomes immediately apparent and startling.
Then a second barrister is killed in the same way and additional evidence ties the cases together. The deaths tie in with a band playing in the area, and especially their talented guitarist, perched on the edge of fame. Is a serial killer at work?
Gemma and Melody must unravel connections going back over fifteen years to tie these murders together. At the heart they will find a bullied and lonely thirteen year-old boy and his relationship with a recently widowed teacher and neighbor. Duncan’s fears rise when a personal connection ties him to one of the suspects and provides the thread between the two murder victims.
When the past and the present collide, Gemma and Melody find themselves in the middle of an ice storm, racing through the steep streets of Crystal Palace to prevent more deaths.
Consistent and compelling, fans of the series won’t be disappointed with Crombie’s latest offering.