I picked this up as vacation reading and it was such a pleasant surprise! The best mystery novels are, at their hearts, sympathetic paintings of a variety of human characters, and "A Share in Death" nailed both the accurate, pleasing brush-strokes and the kind-but-clear-eyed view of human foibles.
I can't remember where I heard about Crombie, but when I checked out the first page of the book, I found this lovely little bit of prose:
Duncan Kincaid's holiday began well. As he turned the car into the lane, a shaft of sun broke through the clouds and lit a patch of rolling Yorkshire moor as if someone had thrown the switch on a celestial spotlight.
Drystone walls ran like pale runes across the brilliant green of pasture, where luminous sheep nibbled, unconcerned with their importance in the composition. The scene seemed set off in time as well as space, and gave him the sensation of viewing a living tapestry, a world remote and utterly unattainable. The clouds shifted again, the vision fading as swiftly as it had come, and he felt an odd shiver of loss at its passing.
That was enough to convince me that the author was going to take me on a journey that I would enjoy, and I was happy to be proved right.
Our hero, Duncan Kincaid, is an inspector for Scotland Yard, off on holiday to a borrowed timeshare in an old and sprawling mansion. Of course, it turns into a working holiday when someone is murdered. All of the suspects are Kincaid's fellow vacationers there in the mansion, closing off the murderer and his potential victims in a neatly contained setting, the better for us to get to know them and try to figure out whodunnit.
It's odd, I suppose, that murder mysteries should be such delightful reads, full of sympathetic characters and interesting conversations and beautifully-rendered visions of pretty countryside locations, when they always have such horrible crimes at their hearts.
But, the best of them are that way, and this was, if not one of the best, one of the very, very good.
Peace of Christ to you,
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