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All Shall Be Well    by Deborah Crombie order for
All Shall Be Well
by Deborah Crombie
Order:  USA  Can
Avon, 2004 (1994)
Hardcover, Paperback

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* *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

I have enjoyed reading about Superintendant Duncan Kincaid of Scotland Yard and Sergeant Gemma James for over a decade now, but missed this early episode, All Shall Be Well, which has just been reissued. Murder hits close to home this time, when a friend and Bayswater neighbor of Duncan's dies in her sleep.

At first the death seems natural, since Jasmine Dent's cancer was in its end phases. Kincaid quickly learns that Jasmine had discussed suicide with her needy ex-colleague Margaret, who has been a regular visitor. But it seems that Jasmine decided not to end her life after all. Her stated desire to live out her remaining days, and the fact that Jasmine had arranged to meet her younger brother Theo the day after her death, arouses Duncan's suspicions. He arranges for a post-mortem, reads his neighbor's journals, feeds her cat Sidhi, and shares his thoughts about the case with Gemma, whose intelligence and instincts he has learned to trust.

Aspects of Jasmine's relationships with her brother, her needy friend Meg, and another neighbor (the Major) all lead to motivations for murder. There are surprises from the victim's early life in India, and hints of an attraction between Jasmine and Duncan (which Gemma picks up on). The journals reveal a pivotal event in Jasmine's youth - what was it, and does it tie in to anyone in her life recently? Gradually, Duncan gets to know his elusive neighbor and her 'radiating web of relationships' better in death than he had in life, and to understand that the cancer was only a part of the pain she suffered.

In an engaging sub-plot, the hopeless Meg manages to dump her abusive boyfriend and assert her own needs, with a surprising resolution. And there's a sense of something that might have been between Jasmine and Kincaid that's bitter-sweet. I enjoyed going back to Duncan and Gemma's early days together, and recommend the entire series to all anglophile mystery lovers.

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