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And Justice There is None    by Deborah Crombie order for
And Justice There is None
by Deborah Crombie
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Bantam, 2003 (2002)
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* *   Reviewed by G. Hall

And Justice There is None is the 8th Crombie book about London police inspectors Duncan Kincaid and Gemma James. Partners in life as well as in crime-solving, Kincaid and Gemma have provided Anglophile fans with many hours of reading pleasure in this well-written series. Although an American, Crombie has mastered the modern British mystery genre and can hold her own with the likes of Peter Robinson, Ian Rankin and Michelle Spring, if not yet with Elizabeth George or P. D. James.

At the onset of the book, Gemma and Kincaid are at a decision point in their relationship and are just taking the step to live together with Gemma's son, Kincaid's son and their expected child. They have moved into a rented home in the trendy Notting Hill district. When the wife of a prominent antiques dealer in the nearby Portobello antiques market is murdered, Gemma (a recently promoted inspector in her own station) is in charge of the investigation. When it turns out that there has recently been another murder, this time of a middle-aged female antiques dealer, Kincaid also becomes involved.

Soon it becomes clear that both past and present are linked in this book - the 1960s when the Notting Hill / Portobello area was the less desirable home of drugs and immigrants; and the affluent yuppie area of today. Crombie draws many characters from past and present into the mystery with several intertwined stories. She includes an interesting short segment at the start of each chapter on the past Notting Hill and Portobello. Since much of the mystery revolves around the repurcussions of earlier 1960s history on the present, this is a clever device.

The stories all appear to orbit around Karl Arrowood, the first victim's husband, who turns out to be an unsavory character involved in many illegal activities. A medieval verse is the source of the title for the newest book, with the phrase 'Might is right and justice there is none'. This appears true in this novel, in which the past and current activities of the rich and powerful Karl Arrowood have ruined several lives.

However And Justice There is None is sadly not one of Crombie's best efforts. Her books usually contain a diverse set of characters interlinked in surprising ways. A wonderful example was the recent A Finer End set in Glastonbury. Unfortunately, the characters in this one are just not that interesting. The personal story of Gemma and Kincaid's lives is the most enjoyable part of the novel, with her pregnancy and struggles as a new supervisor in a difficult male-oriented police environment.

Crombie's mysteries are always reliable entertainment, but I hope that her next one will find her back at the very high level we have come to expect.

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