A Bitter Feastby Deborah Crombie (Website, Facebook, Twitter)
Series: Duncan Kincaid & Gemma James #18
Published by William Morrow on October 8, 2019
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Murder, Mystery, Mystery & Detective, Mystery and Suspense
Source: TLC Book Tours
Amazon • Book Depository • Goodreads
I received this book for free from TLC Book Tours in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
“Crombie’s characters are rich, emotionally textured, fully human. They are the remarkable creations of a remarkable writer.”—Louise Penny
New York Times bestselling author Deborah Crombie returns with a mesmerizing entry in her “excellent” (Miami Herald) series, in which Scotland Yard detectives Duncan Kincaid and Gemma James are pulled into a dangerous web of secrets, lies, and murder that simmers beneath the surface of a tranquil Cotswolds village.
Scotland Yard Detective Superintendent Duncan Kincaid and his wife, Detective Inspector Gemma James, have been invited for a relaxing weekend in the Cotswolds, one of Britain’s most enchanting regions, famous for its rolling hills, golden cottages, and picturesque villages.
Duncan, Gemma, and their children are guests at Beck House, the family estate of Melody Talbot, Gemma’s detective sergeant. The Talbot family is wealthy, prominent, and powerful—Melody’s father is the publisher of one of London’s largest and most influential newspapers. The centerpiece of this glorious fall getaway is a posh charity harvest luncheon catered by up-and-coming chef Viv Holland. After fifteen years in London’s cut-throat food scene, Viv has returned to the Gloucestershire valleys of her childhood and quickly made a name for herself with her innovative meals based on traditional cuisine but using fresh local ingredients. Attended by the local well-to-do as well as national press food bloggers and restaurant critics, the event could make Viv a star.
But a tragic car accident and a series of mysterious deaths rock the estate and pull Duncan and Gemma into the investigation. It soon becomes clear that the killer has a connection with Viv’s pub—or, perhaps, with Beck House itself.
Does the truth lie in the past? Or is it closer to home, tied up in the tangled relationships and bitter resentments between the staff at Beck House and Viv’s new pub? Or is it more personal, entwined with secrets hidden by Viv and those closest to her?
Starting a series that is now eighteen books deep can be daunting, but any reservations that I had were quickly quashed upon digging into A Bitter Feast, Deborah Crombie’s latest installment featuring Scotland Yard Detective Superintendent Duncan Kincaid and his wife, D.I. Gemma James. The married couple and their three children are taking a weekend holiday in the country at a coworker’s parents’ estate, and they are looking forward to some much needed rest, relaxation, and family time away from London. While Gemma arrives safely along with her subordinate, Melody, her husband isn’t so lucky: his car is struck and flipped over as he nears the estate. The occupants of the other car involved in the crash die at the scene, and Duncan is now a part of the investigation–whether he’s fit enough to help out or not. Why was a local woman driving erratically with a strange man in her car, and why was he dead before the accident even happened?
There are a lot of players in this book, and several are there in other books in the series. Duncan, Gemma, and their children Kitt, Toby, and Charlotte are a blended family that seemed to have hit their stride. While the estate belongs to fellow detective Melody’s newspaper mogul parents, Ivan and Addie, another detective Doug has brought the Kincaid children up from London. Deborah Crombie does an excellent job at filling in the little things that have been revealed about these characters in previous books, so I definitely didn’t feel like I was missing too much by jumping in at book eighteen. Bringing everyone together is a charity luncheon at the estate held by Addie and catered by the local Pub’s chef Vivian, who once worked at a highly rated restaurant in London. Viv has hidden herself away for the last several years with her tween daughter. She’s content creating fantastic local food for the tourists and townies alike, but she definitely wants to keep a low profile.
I really liked the flashbacks of Chef Viv’s past in the early 2000s. They were sprinkled throughout the book in a way that really made you understand why she acted the way that she does. There are multiple points of view, and honestly, I don’t think I could count the number of heads that you’re in, but it works. Once the main players are set, everything is pretty clear and easy to follow. The murderer wasn’t that easy to guess since there were plenty of shifty people about that could have done it. Only towards the end did it become obvious who was the perpetrator.
I give A Bitter Feast a four out of five. I really enjoy British whodunits, and Deborah Crombie writes them very convincingly. The story unfolds quite slowly at first, moving from one person’s point of view to the next as everything unfolds bit by bit. I usually don’t enjoy such a pedestrian pace, but this book takes place over such a short time span of a weekend that it starts to flow really well. The characters’ lives, ambitions, friendships, and heart breaks drew me in. Plus, the Cotswolds was like an entire character unto itself. The setting was idyllic yet rainy and often gloomy and cold, which just ratcheted up the tension at times. I enjoyed my time with these characters, and I think I’d like to spend more time with them in the future.
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About Deborah Crombie
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.
Connect with Deborah Crombie
Deborah Crombie’s TLC Book Tours TOUR STOPS for A BITTER FEAST:
Tuesday, October 8th: Instagram: @wherethereadergrows
Tuesday, October 8th: Instagram: @theunreadshelf
Friday, October 11th: Instagram: @megsbookclub
Saturday, October 12th: Instagram: @reallyintothis
Sunday, October 13th: Instagram: @amanda.the.bookish
Monday, October 14th: Instagram: @alixreads
Tuesday, October 15th: Instagram: @jessicamap
Friday, October 18th: Instagram: @giuliland
TBD: Thursday, October 10th: Instagram: @_ebl_inc_
Tuesday, October 8th: No More Grumpy Bookseller
Thursday, October 10th: Literary Quicksand
Friday, October 11th: Instagram: @slreadsbooks
Monday, October 14th: PhDiva
Monday, October 14th: Bewitched Bookworms
Tuesday, October 15th: Diary of a Stay at Home Mom
Tuesday, October 15th: Write – Read – Life
Wednesday, October 16th: Jessicamap Reviews
Thursday, October 17th: Thoughts From a Highly Caffeinated Mind
Thursday, October 17th: From the TBR Pile
Friday, October 18th: Staircase Wit
Tuesday, October 22nd: Lesa’s Book Critiques
Wednesday, October 23rd: Jathan & Heather
Thursday, October 24th: Amy’s Book-et List