He held a pen in his right hand, although he didn't remember picking it up. And the page, which had been blank a moment ago, was covered in an unfamiliar script...'Ye love full well what we have loved. The time...to wake, for Glaston to rise against the darkness. We have...something...long for you...it is in your hands..."
Yet after several similar incidents, Jack must find some answers to this mysterious writing and seeks the help of Simon Fitzstephen, an author and local expert on the early Church in Britain and Grail mythology. Eventually, the two form a group with an unlikely set of members, including a 17-year-old pregnant runaway who is being sheltered by an eccentric woman best described as an aging hippie. The group meets to discuss the messages, which have come more frequently, and tries to discover the meaning behind them.
Jack doesn't want too many people aware of what is going on, thinking they will suspect that he has lost his mind. But when a good friend is seriously injured in a suspicious hit-and-run accident, he calls upon his cousin, Scotland Yard Inspector Duncan Kincaid, to come to investigate. Kincaid doesn't want to leave his own caseload of homicides to investigate a possible accident out of his jurisdiction, but then realizes this would be the perfect opportunity for a weekend getaway to mend the strained relationship with his former partner and lover, Gemma James.
Duncan and Gemma's romantic weekend suddenly turns serious as another of Jack's group is found murdered, and the two find themselves involved in a full-fledged investigation. While the safety of the rest of the group is a concern until the killer is found, Gemma finds herself especially concerned about the welfare of the pregnant teenager, Faith, who seems to face danger of another kind--the mythical dark forces of the Tor, the "Old Ones," threaten chaos and destruction as Samhain, or All Hallows' Eve, approaches.
|17th century engraving of Glastonbury--from Wikimedia Commons|
Two very likable protagonists, a host of interesting and sometimes eccentric supporting characters, Celtic lore, and the setting of Glastonbury--a site associated with the myth of Joseph of Arimathea and sometimes identified as the Isle of Avalon in Arthurian legends--what more could you ask for in a murder mystery? A Finer End is one of those mysteries that will draw you in and keep you reading late into the night.
|The colorful leaves of autumn are bringing the year to a "Finer End" as well.|
I first discovered Deborah Crombie's novels sometime in the past year when I was looking for a new mystery. Although Crombie now lives in the U.S., her London and other UK settings ring with authenticity, and her writing reminds me of some of my favorite British mystery writers. Gemma and Duncan are compassionate and intelligent police officers, not the hard-bitten, cynical cops often found in American detective stories--though I like to read those, too, occasionally. They are the kind of people you'd like to actually meet.
A Finer End is the seventh of fifteen books in the Duncan Kincaid/Gemma James series. I started with one of her newer books and then picked up some earlier ones in no particular order. Other than making the development of Duncan and Gemma's relationship a little confusing, it really didn't matter, although I think I'll read the first in the series next. Let's see--I've read six, so that means I have nine left to read. That should keep me entertained for many of the cold winter nights ahead!
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Disclaimer: No compensation of any kind was received for this review. I review only books I enjoy and think others would enjoy reading too. I purchased and downloaded this book on my Kindle.