Friday, February 17, 2012

No Mark Upon Her by Deborah Crombie

No Mark Upon Her by Deborah Crombie
Date Published: February 2012
ISBN: 978-0061990618
Publisher: William Morrow
Pages: 384
Genre: Mystery; Detective Fiction
Rating: 5 out of 5

Publisher’s Book Summary: New York Times bestselling author Deborah Crombie makes her mark with this absorbing, finely hued tale of suspense—a deeply atmospheric and twisting mystery full of deadly secrets, salacious lies, and unexpected betrayals involving the mysterious drowning of a Met detective—an accomplished rower—on the Thames.
When a K9 search-and-rescue team discovers a woman's body tangled up with debris in the river, Scotland Yard superintendent Duncan Kincaid finds himself heading an investigation fraught with complications. The victim, Rebecca Meredith, was a talented but difficult woman with many admirers—and just as many enemies. An Olympic contender on the verge of a controversial comeback, she was also a high-ranking detective with the Met—a fact that raises a host of political and ethical issues in an already sensitive case.
To further complicate the situation, a separate investigation, led by Detective Inspector Gemma James, Kincaid's wife, soon reveals a disturbing—and possibly related—series of crimes, widening the field of suspects. But when someone tries to kill the search-and-rescue team member who found Rebecca's body, the case becomes even more complex and dangerous, involving powerful interests with tentacles that reach deep into the heart of the Met itself.
Surrounded by enemies with friendly faces, pressured to find answers quickly while protecting the Yard at all costs, his career and reputation on the line, Kincaid must race to catch the killer before more innocent lives are lost—including his own.

My Thoughts: When I read the publisher’s summary I felt as if this book had been written with me in mind! The story is set in England, most of the characters are British, a K9 Search and Rescue (SAR) team is involved in the investigation and the sport of Rowing is a major part of the story. These are all elements that are of interest to me and that I like very much: I love British-themed books and British characters, the two SAR dogs are adorable, wonderful characters and one is my favorite breed, a Labrador Retriever and I was a coxswain on the women’s crew team during most of my college years and just love Rowing! So you see, I was pretty well hooked before I started reading. Then, when I started reading No Mark Upon Her, I discovered one of the best mysteries I’ve read in a long time.

Deborah Crombie’s writing is compelling, quickly captures your attention and keeps it. The fast-paced, riveting narrative flows well and the tension is palpable almost from the start of the book. Rowing is an intriguing aspect of the story. Crombie shows how it strongly reflects the theme of power and control central to the book. Rowing, which can be both a social and a solitary sport, also highlights the loneliness felt by several of the characters and the secretive nature of their lives. The criminal investigation quickly becomes complex, involving more than one crime, several surprising discoveries and some fascinating twists and turns. I gasped out loud at least twice! There’s never a dull moment in this mesmerizing crime novel.

No Mark Upon Her is part of a series involving two detectives, superintendent Duncan Kincaid and Inspector Gemma James who, newly married here with a combined family of three children, have a long history. I didn’t feel as if I was missing anything by not having read the previous books in this series. The detective’s entire history is not explained but Crombie relays enough for us to know the detectives have known each other for a long time and have worked together quite a bit in the past. I wasn’t very far into this book before I knew I wanted to read the rest of the series.

Detectives Kincaid and James are affable, smart, funny and inquisitive. They work well together and appreciate each other’s strengths and flaws but are not without their faults. I appreciated that Crombie allows us to see them at home with their newly formed family. Crombie effectively provides a break from the tension of the investigation by showing the detectives at home with their children, trying to make family-life work while investigating at difficult criminal case. In this way, Duncan and Gemma become more recognizable to us as people many readers can identify with: working parents. And when this case threatens the sanctity of the police department they work for ratcheted up the tension several degrees, the detectives still have to put dinner on the table, get the children bathed and in bed before returning to the intense investigation.

There’s a lot going on in No Mark Upon Her and Crombie displays an admirable talent for juggling several story tangents at once, keeping them all absorbing and mesmerizing as well as a variety of characters. Anyone looking for a straightforward murder mystery and criminal investigation with little character development won’t appreciate this book. They will also miss out on a thrilling story-line and two fascinating detectives as well as some captivating secondary characters including a fascinating type-A murder victim and a flawed SAR team member with Finn, a remarkable and adorable dog. I highly recommend this book for readers who enjoy intense, riveting detective investigations that keep you guessing, caring, three-dimensional characters who stay with you, a British setting, British culture and society, Rowing and compelling, engaging writing.

To read more about No Mark Upon Her and Deborah Crombie be sure to visit her website She can also be found on Facebook and Twitter

Thank you to BookBrowse for sending me an ARC copy of No Mark Upon Her


  1. Great review! As I read the description, my eyes sort of crossed -- seems like a lot going on -- but your review has me considering it. It sounds like a good read and I'm always a sucker for great characters.

  2. Glad to see you enjoyed it and that you don't have to read the previous books in the series. There are so many series books out these days that it's hard to keep track!

  3. I gave this one a 5 too and plan to read the others in the series!

  4. I got this book and then discovered it's part of a series. I'm relieved to know you gave it a 5(!) and haven't read the rest of the series. I'm excited about it now.

  5. It does sound like this book is tailor-made for you. Glad to hear it can stand alone. I'll keep it in mind when I'm in the mood for well-done mystery. Great review!

  6. So many things about this book appeal to me (the setting and the dogs for starters), but I tend to avoid series. Glad this can stand alone!

  7. How is the Venetian reading challenge going?

  8. Terrific review - this sounds like a great read! Having married detectives sounds like a fun new twist as well.

  9. I just started this one, and I am already hooked!
    Great review.

  10. I had no idea you were a rower. Very cool!
    This does look good, but I could never knowingly start in the middle of a series. I'll have to make a note of the first one.