Old Friends Reunite for ‘A Bitter Feast’ in Deborah Crombie’s Latest [REVIEW]

Small town in the hills

Duncan Kincaid and Gemma James are ready for a relaxing weekend in Deborah Crombie’s A Bitter Feast. (Photo courtesy Canva)

Wealthy friends, a charming village, and tasty eats come together in Deborah Crombie’s addictive new cozy mystery, A Bitter Feast. Here a fluke accident and possible murder mar what should be a thoroughly enchanting getaway for two of England’s best crime solvers and their family. 

Deborah Crombie's A BITTER FEAST

William Morrow

Autumn is the perfect time to visit the Cotswolds, one of England’s most spectacular regions, renowned for its rolling hills and picturesque communities. That’s why Scotland Yard Detective Superintendent Duncan Kincaid and his wife, Detective Inspector Gemma James, jump at the chance to spend a relaxing weekend at Beck House, the family estate of Melody Talbot, Gemma’s detective sergeant.

Melody’s father is the publisher of one of London’s most illustrious newspapers, and the Talbot family is a clan well regarded for its wealth and influence. And where there is wealth, there are usually fundraisers. In this case, the event is a swanky charity harvest luncheon where up-and-coming chef Viv Holland delivers a delectable menu.

Viv has made a name for herself with her delicious meals which pair local fare with traditional cuisine. Now, as the star chef at this philanthropic enterprise, she has the chance to wow food bloggers and restaurant critics alike. But even as the events get under way, a tragic car accident and a series of mysterious deaths occur which pull Duncan and Gemma into the investigation. Now it seems like there’s a link between the killer and Viv’s pub—and possibly even Beck House itself.

But where does the truth lie? Is it found in the complicated relationships between the staff at Beck House and Viv’s pub? Or are more personal secrets at play here… secrets best kept by Viv herself?

Opening a new Crombie novel is akin to taking a holiday to visit old friends. Her central characters, Kincaid and James, are a likable detective duo who are great on their own, but even better as a married couple. And in this sojourn to the country, we get to spend a great amount of time with them and their charming children. The story becomes even more enthralling though, as we meet their hosts and the eclectic cast of characters who seem to have sprung from PBS favorites like Grantchester or Midsomer Murders. But that’s not a bad thing. In fact, it proves a beguiling and arresting diversion, and we relish the opportunity to get to know all the wonderful personalities Crombie writes.

Crombie also pens deft descriptions of the English countryside and lures us down plenty of garden paths, past vibrant shops that beckon us to enter and into restaurants so vividly described we can smell the decadent aromas wafting out of the kitchen. This rich sensory experience is so nuanced and textured, we never want it to end, even if death lurks in dark corners and secrets are held by silent tongues. It is worth the risk, however, as we meander down the village lane and hope against hope that the story will not end too soon. If you have never read a Crombie novel, this is a great place to start. Although it is the 18th title in this beloved series, A Bitter Feast can be read as a standalone and will please fans of Martha Grimes, Ruth Rendell, and Charles Todd.

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Deborah Crombie

Deborah Crombie
(Photo by Cora Allen)


Deborah Crombie is the award-winning author of To Dwell in DarknessNecessary as BloodWhere Memories Lie, and numerous other novels featuring Detective Superintendent Duncan Kincaid and Sergeant Gemma James. Her critically acclaimed novels are published in numerous countries across North America, Europe, and Asia.

Before becoming a writer, Crombie worked in advertising and newspapers and attended the Rice University Publishing Program. She obtained her undergraduate degree in biology from Austin College.

A Texas native, she has also lived in Edinburgh, Scotland, and Chester, England. She currently resides in McKinney, Texas with her husband, Rick Wilson, two German shepherds, and three cats. When not writing or traveling to the UK, she enjoys cooking, admiring her garden, reading, birdwatching, and playing with her dogs.

She invites fans to visit her home on the Web at DeborahCrombie.com, like her on Facebook, and follow her on Twitter and Instagram.

By Deborah Crombie
384 pp. William Morrow. $25.99

Purchase A Bitter Feast at one of these fine online retailers: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books-A-Million, HarperCollins, IndieBound, and Powell’s.

A Bitter Feast is brought to you in association with TLC Book Tours.

About Jathan Fink
Jathan is a journalist, philanthropist, and entrepreneur. He is also a travel junkie, foodie and jazz aficionado. A California native, he resides in Texas.

One Response to Old Friends Reunite for ‘A Bitter Feast’ in Deborah Crombie’s Latest [REVIEW]

  1. Sara Strand says:

    I’m always hesitant to start a series mid-way through, but I’m glad that this one won’t leave me in the dark if I do! Thank you for being on this tour! Sara @ TLC Book Tours

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