William Morrow, 2009
Gemma James and Duncan Kincaid book 13
I’ve hit a bit of a reading slump in the last few months so I decided to read more in one of my favorite series, but, unfortunately, as readable as Necessary as Blood was, I feel a little unsettled by it. The James and Kincaid series is written by an American about police couple in London. It’s very procedural but sort of cozy (not all the books take place in the city, the author is very fond of maps in the frontispieces of her books to map out her characters’ investigations), and, frankly, one of the main reasons I return to the series is to find out what’s happening in James and Kincaid’s personal lives. It’s been a drawn-out relationship over 13 books.
So what exactly is leaving me unsettled? The opening of the book makes it fairly clear that the central mystery will involve human trafficking between Bangladesh and London, but the bulk of the book does not get to that point. The opening introduces the character of Sandra Gilles, a fiber artist who lives in the East End who somehow follows missing Bangladeshi girls before she herself disappears. The bulk of the book involves the police investigation into both her disappearance and her husband’s subsequent murder as well as the latest troubles in James’s personal life. The last section of the book, however, that uncovers the human trafficking plot, feels like a very different story than the rest of the book. I guess I’m unsettled because the tone varies so sharply between the horrors of human trafficking versus the domestic and investigative drama in the story. I guess I expect a crime novel dealing with human trafficking to be more unsettling and to realize how high the stakes are. If Crombie hadn’t tipped her hands so clearly in the opening section of the book, I still would have been weirded out by the abrupt shift in tone in the book at the end.