A review of Now May You Weep, by Deborah Crombie
@@@@ (4 out of 5)
Go figure: one of my favorite English mystery writers is . . . a Texan? Yes, it’s true. The biographical blurbs in the back of Deborah Crombie’s English mystery novels insist that she was born and lives in Texas. As an American myself, I can’t claim to be the final authority on the Englishness of Crombie’s narrative prose and dialogue, but I’ve spent enough time in the UK and with British friends not to be too easily fooled, and I’ll be damned if I can find any cultural or linguistic flaws in her writing. And I appear to be in good company, as Deborah Crombie has twice won the British mystery writers’ top award for her novels.
Now May You Weep is the ninth in a series of 13 novels Crombie has written since 1993 about the Scotland Yard duo of Duncan Kincaid and Gemma James. The two are sleuths who live together with his son, her son, two personable dogs, and an indifferent cat in a fashionable London neighborhood.
Like every other novel in its series, I found Now May You Weep to be engrossing and difficult to set aside. The scene is not England this time but Scotland, where Gemma James, recently promoted to Inspector and still recovering from an especially traumatic miscarriage, has gone for a long weekend for a cooking course at a rural bed-and-breakfast with her best bud, Hazel Cavendish. Hazel, long a rock of stability in Gemma’s topsy-turvy life, comes apart at the seams in the course of a weekend of shocking surprises and tragic events.
Crombie’s work is especially strong in painting a picture of the local scene — here, the Scottish highlands in all its stark, windswept glory. A major setting for the novel is an ancient distillery, which serves as the occasion for Crombie to explain in explicit and colorful detail how single-malt Scottish whiskey is made.
Now May You Weep is a stellar crime novel by a writer at the height of her powers. It’s an exceptionally fine read.