When I started to read The Sound of Broken Glass, Deborah Crombie’s story seemed familiar. Although I had not read it before (I checked), the mystery neatly followed the formula of a police procedural, with detectives investigating the murder while slowly revealing their own personal lives. Like two of my favorite detective series – Ruth Galloway and Claire Ferguson – the chief investigators are women. In this case, Gemma James is an Inspector in London, with her husband on leave from Scotland Yard to care for their new foster daughter, and her sidekick is Detective Sergeant Melody Talbot.
The life of a young handsome musician with the tortured background of a true artist leads the plot, flipping back and forth from his past in the slums of South London with his alcoholic mother to his present day breakthrough as the newly discovered supertalent who haunts the guitar shops on Denmark Street in Soho. His connection to the kinky strangulation of two London barristers twists the investigation into likely possibilities, until the real murderer is discovered.
This is my first experience with this British mystery series based on the adventures of Superintendent Duncan Kincaid and Detective Gemma James of London’s Scotland Yard. Crombie doesn’t waste pages explaining their background and I will have to read her previous books to discover how the relationship led to marriage and the adoption of two foster children with tragic backgrounds, but none of the missing information detracted from this latest adventure. Crombie is an American author now living in Texas, but her clever insertions of local London dialect, food, and lifestyle as well as detailed descriptions of the Crystal Palace and Notting Hill sustained a comfortable British flavor while offering a satisfying puzzle easily solved for fans of the British crime mystery.