Title: No Mark Upon Her
Author: Deborah Crombie
Release Date: February 7, 2012
Publisher: William Morrow
Genre: Crime Fiction
Rating: 4.5 out of 5
When Rebecca Meredith goes missing after taking a boat out on the Thames, people are worried. After all, she was an accomplished rower, used to taking care of herself, but she was also a high-ranking Met detective. When her body is found, Scotland Yard Inspector Duncan Kincaid finds himself assigned to the case, one which is fraught with political tensions. As Kincaid digs into Rebecca’s past, he finds some troubling information that he knows will anger his superiors. Determined to bring Rebecca justice, Kincaid pushes on with the full knowledge that he could be ending his career.
No Mark Upon Her is the fourteenth novel in the Duncan Kincaid/Gemma James series, though I wasn’t aware of that when I picked up the book. Though I picked up a faint hint that I had missed some past character development toward the beginning of the book, I never felt lost. This is a testament to Crombie’s writing skills – she catches the reader up on enough backstory to where they know exactly what they need to for the purposes of this book while never dragging the narrative down with backstory. Fourteen books is a lot, and I was surprised at how well this book worked as a standalone.
The mystery in No Mark Upon Her is atmospheric and well-written. The Thames River provides a perfectly moody backdrop for Rebecca’s tragic murder. The case seems contained to the upscale rowing societies that are everywhere in British society, but it quickly becomes clear that Rebecca’s death isn’t quite as neat as all that. In fact, it’s a complicated, tangled mess with far-reaching implications. Crombie tied together these narrative threads very well, and it made for a gripping story.
It takes a talented policeman to navigate the treacherous waters of Rebecca’s murder investigation, and Duncan Kincaid does that incredibly well. I loved how passionate he was on Rebecca’s behalf, as well as how he refused to follow the easy path if his gut led him down a more difficult one. His home life with Gemma provided some depth and balance to his character. Crombie did an admirable job developing an already finely honed character for a brand new audience; I can’t say enough great things about her writing skills.
Though I appreciated No Mark Upon Her as a standalone novel, I’m now eager to go back and read this series from the beginning. It seems as though Crombie took care not to introduce too many spoilers into the narrative, and her characters and story were so well done, I can’t help but want more. I’m sure her backlist will keep me sated until the next Duncan Kincaid/Gemma James series, in which I hope to visit more of Gemma’s character.