Review: No Mark Upon Her by Deborah Crombie

Posted February 26, 2013 by Heather in Book Reviews / 9 Comments

I received this book for free from the publisher / TLC Book Tours in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: No Mark Upon Her by Deborah CrombieNo Mark Upon Her (Duncan Kincaid & Gemma James #14) by Deborah Crombie
Published by William Morrow on February 5, 2013 (reprint)
Genres: Crime Fiction, Fiction, Mystery
Format: Paperback
Pages: 384
Source: the publisher / TLC Book Tours

Goodreads | Amazon

When a K9 search-and-rescue team discovers a woman's body in the Thames, Scotland Yard superintendent Duncan Kincaid finds himself heading an investigation fraught with complications. The victim, the talented and difficult Rebecca Meredith, was an Olympic rowing 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 sensitive issues in an already tangled 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 dangerous. Pressured to find answers quickly while protecting the Yard at all costs and with his career and reputation on the line, Kincaid must race to catch the killer before more innocent lives are lost--including his own.

(from the back cover)

Like Proof of Guilt, No Mark Upon Her is another crime fiction novel that’s part of a series, and I don’t think I was aware of that going in. No Mark Upon Her also works as a stand-alone novel, for the most part. There were a lot of references to previous novels in the Duncan Kincaid/Gemma James series that I didn’t get, though, and they distracted me quite a bit at the beginning until I just decided to pay no attention to them and just focus on the mystery at hand.

This is a good mystery–it’s clear, concise, suspenseful, and everything gets wrapped up at the end. It also includes quite a bit of information about rowing as a sport, which I found interesting. I thought I had figured out who the bad guy was about half-way through the book, but I couldn’t for the life of me come up with a motive, so Crombie had me stumped–that’s a huge plus. I like when mysteries can stump me.

I have one complaint about No Mark Upon Her, but I’m not sure it’s a fair complaint, so take it as you will and don’t let it stop you from checking out the series as a whole:

Too much of the storyline in the book is about Duncan and Gemma’s domestic life, and it became a little boring and annoying. BUT–and this is why I think this isn’t necessarily a fair complaint–I think No Mark Upon Her is meant to be a transitional book in the series, and because it’s a crime fiction series, there also needed to be a crime to solve. I did some research on the rest of the series after getting frustrated about not understanding some of the references to past stories, and apparently Duncan and Gemma started out as co-workers, then fell in love, then proceeded to get married in the last book before this one. So Duncan and Gemma are newly married, their households and families are newly combined, and they have a little girl that they just adopted (also as part of the last book before this one). No Mark Upon Her, while being part of a crime fiction series, also has to deal with how all of this is working out for Duncan and Gemma (I guess).

Crombie writes a good crime fiction novel, though, and because I think No Mark Upon Her includes so much domesticity because of the big changes that have taken place in the larger, ongoing story of Duncan and Gemma, I haven’t been dissuaded from checking out the series from the beginning. I’d like to see who each book focuses more on–Duncan or Gemma–because I think they both have the potential to be good character-detectives.

It would be hard for me to recommend No Mark Upon Her to anyone who hasn’t read the series from the beginning, just because I think it might disappoint major enthusiasts of crime fiction, but I do recommend it to anyone who is already into the series. I am definitely going to give the first couple books in the Duncan Kincaid/Gemma James series a chance at some point and I will be sure to review them here when I do.

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  • Sometimes you need a good crime fiction novel. And I know you said it was the part you didn’t like, but the domesticity sort of harkens back to the old school Dashiel Hammet novels or any of those other couple crime solving novels that were huge in the 30s/40s/50s.

    • You’re right, and I think I would have been fine with it if I had been reading the series from the beginning. I think I would have cared more about their personal life.

  • jenn aka the picky girl

    I’m curious if you’ve read a lot of mysteries before. Just because those personal tidbits are part of what I love so much about a good series, especially if they’re transitional. And because I’ve noticed you’ve only reviewed a few mysteries lately, and I don’t recall seeing many before.

    If that’s the case, you need recs of good series, and you need to read them (for the most part) in order. I prefer British/Scottish mysteries for a lot of reasons, but that’s a whole other post.

    Also, have you read any of Tana French’s series? I ask because her books don’t read like a traditional series, meaning that you can go in with no prior knowledge. Essentially, each of her Dublin Crime Series focuses on a side character from the last book. Plus, they’re (in my opinion) very well written. Her latest, Broken Harbor, was incredibly psychological and tense.

    • I do like reading mysteries, but I read them in spurts. Like I just said to Geoff, I don’t think the domestic stuff would have bothered me if I’d been reading the series from the beginning–I think I would have cared more about their personal lives because I would have already been attached to them.

      I am actually reading Tana French’s first book in March. My mother has been recommending them to me for probably two years now, and I just haven’t gotten around to reading them. I think I own them all aside from the new one. I’m looking forward to them.

      I’ve actually read a few Scotland Yard mysteries over the last couple years, and I’ve found that I really enjoy them. I have also found that I love late 19th/early 20th century mysteries of any kind.

      • jenn aka the picky girl

        Oh, good! In the Woods seemed to draw a variety of responses, but I actually loved it. I remember reading the first chapter and calling up a friend to read it to him. That’s how good I thought the writing was. Her next few were only ok (though the writing was still good), but her latest really surprised me – in a good way.

        Some mysteries don’t require the necessity of reading in order. They tend to be lighter in nature and ones that I’m not as invested in. And, of course, that’s ok from time to time. I absolutely love Patricia Wentworth’s Miss Silver series. They’re out of print, but Open Road has published them all. They’re fantastic. Miss Silver doesn’t show up for at least the first 50-60 pages, and they’re a combination of romance and mystery. Super fun but no real progression.

        And yes, I do love Bess Crawford and Maisie Dobbs series set during/after WWI. Partially it’s the war and its effects that make them even more intriguing.

  • Personally I’m particular about books in a series – I simply MUST read them in order. So I think I’ll catch up on the previous books, then I’ll be able to enjoy this one.

    Thanks for being on the tour!

  • Pingback: February 2013 Reading Wrap-Up and March Plans | Between the Covers()

  • Thanks for the info about this book. I usually don’t like books that are series but independent of each other. I prefer series books that go in order, that you must read in order. But I would try one of her books, although it sounds like not this one first.

  • I don’t particularity like series books but I may love to read this and others should I lay hands on any. I think your fine review has piqued my interest and I do love mysteries and crime thrillers.