More Cozy Crime in “All Shall Be Well”

8938036All Shall Be Well by Deborah Crombie
Scribner, January 1, 1994 (Mystery)

My rating: Beach vacation (3/5)

Last week I shared my thoughts about Crombie’s first book in her Duncan Kincaid and Gemma James series, and now I’m back for more. The second book in the series is a little less cozy and there’s a lot more focus on Duncan and Gemma, which made this one all the more appealing than A Share in Death.

In All Shall Be Well, Duncan is once more pulled into an investigation that is unrelated to his job when his neighbour, Jasmine, dies. Jasmine had been suffering with cancer and Duncan is grief stricken to learn that his friend has quietly passed away; however, when he learns that it’s possible that she might have committed suicide, he is duty bound to order a postmortem. The more Duncan looks into the case, the more convinced he is that Jasmine did not succumb to her illness naturally, she just might have been murdered.

What I liked about this one is that it was much less predictable than A Share in Death. The author still left enough clues as to who the guilty suspect might be, but the misdirection  went a long way into keeping my interest in solving the mystery. I did not suspect the individual who did kill Jasmine, but I enjoyed following Kincaid as he put the pieces together.

The character development of Kincaid and Gemma also continued in All Shall Be Well. Duncan calls on Gemma to assist in his investigation first and foremost because she is a friend, and he’s in need of one when he loses Jasmine. From this perspective, you can see their working relationship developing into something more. They are both starting to rely on each other outside of work. In this one you also get a better picture of what Kincaid and Gemma’s respective home life is like. Both are quite isolated. Kincaid especially seems like a lonely person, with only his work and his friendship with his neighbours to sustain him after hours.

While the author made great strides in developing her main characters and laying the foundation for their inevitable relationship, I still feel like there is something missing, once again encouraging me to continue to the next book in the series. While I don’t have a problem with this technique of character development, I will admit that if I was reading this book closer to the publication date, I doubt I would have continued series. Since this series was first published in the 1990s it’s quite easy for me to catch up and binge read without having to wait for the next book. If I didn’t have access to the series like I do with fifteen books already written and ready to check out from the library, I do not think I would continue the series. I don’t think I’m enough of a mystery reader for the mystery element alone to sustain me with each book. The characters are interesting, but I could also see myself forgetting about them quite easily if I wasn’t reading the books close together, which says more about me as a reader than the books themselves.

The last aspect about All Shall Be Well that I’ll mention is the fact that I found it really difficult to review. In one respect, I don’t want to spoil the mystery element to the story. But on the other hand, I feel a little ambivalent towards the book. I didn’t absolutely love it and I didn’t hate it. I liked it and I want to read the rest of the book, but the book did not elicit a strong reaction, compelling me to dissect it in a review. Which leads me to consider the act of reviewing itself. When I think back to my most considered reviews, they almost always revolve around a book that I had a strong reaction to, whether it was good or bad. Is this emotional connection important when reviewing a book? Perhaps not, especially when you consider literary merits, but when I pick up a book, it’s the emotional impact of the book that sticks with me, not the quality or style of writing. A book snob I’m not.

Ultimately, I like this series and I’ll continue reading them, but unless something really dramatic happens, don’t look for a review of subsequent books here. At this point, I think I’ll just read the series without the added pressure of having to write a review without spoiling the entire mystery.

Similar Reads

For similar reads, see my review of A Share in Death.

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