A Bitter Feast

A Bitter Feast

A Novel

Book - 2019 | First edition
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Scotland Yard Detective Superintendent Duncan Kincaid and his wife, Detective Inspector Gemma James, have been invited for a relaxing weekend in the Cotswolds, one of Britains most enchanting regions, famous for its rolling hills, golden cottages, and picturesque villages.Duncan, Gemma, and their children are guests at Beck House, the family estate of Melody Talbot, Gemmas detective sergeant. The Talbot family is wealthy, prominent, and powerfulMelodys father is the publisher of one of Londons largest and most influential newspapers. The centerpiece of this glorious fall getaway is a posh charity harvest luncheon catered by up-and-coming chef Viv Holland. After fifteen years in Londons cut-throat food scene, Viv has returned to the Gloucestershire valleys of her childhood and quickly made a name for herself with her innovative meals based on traditional cuisine but using fresh local ingredients. Attended by the local well-to-do as well as national press food bloggers and restaurant critics, the event could make Viv a star.But a tragic car accident and a series of mysterious deaths rock the estate and pull Duncan and Gemma into the investigation. It soon becomes clear that the killer has a connection with Vivs pubor, perhaps, with Beck House itself.Does the truth lie in the past? Or is it closer to home, tied up in the tangled relationships and bitter resentments between the staff at Beck House and Vivs new pub? Or is it more personal, entwined with secrets hidden by Viv and those closest to her?
Publisher: New York, NY : William Morrow, an imprint of HarperCollinsPublishers, [2019]
Edition: First edition
ISBN: 9780062271662
Branch Call Number: MYSTERY CROMBIE
Characteristics: 372 pages : illustration ; 24 cm


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Sep 20, 2019

I love it when Deborah Crombie takes Scotland Yard Detective Superintendent Duncan Kincaid, his wife, D. I. Gemma James and their family out of London into the countryside. In A Bitter Feast the family, along with Detective Sgt. Doug Cullen, are visiting Melody Talbot family’s country home, Beck House. Melody is Gemma’s friend and Detective Sergeant.
The Talbots own a powerful newspaper. Melody has spent much of her professional and way too much of her personal life hiding this posh background. The latter will eventually come back to bite her thanks to Doug.
While they are visiting, Melody’s mother, Lady Adelaide plans on hosting a charity luncheon featuring an extremely talented local chef, Vivian Holland.
The visit gets off to a tragic start when Duncan is injured in a double fatality car accident. The visit really goes downhill when the police realize one of the car accident victims was actually murdered. Although they have no official status, Duncan and Gemma manage to involve themselves in the investigations.
Crombie presents delightful settings that include Beck House in the Cotswold’s, with its magnificent gardens; the tiny village and a pub beginning to attract a lot of notice for its food.
Duncan and Gemma’s oldest son, Kit, is starting to come into his own as he assists Chef Vivian at the charity luncheon and later at the pub kitchen where she puts out her renowned food. There are fascinating flashbacks of Chef Vivian working in a restaurant kitchen actively on the hunt for a Michelin Star. I now appreciate the complicated ballet of fine dining even more. Maybe some day I will come up with the extra $300 bucks just to be seated in the kitchen at The Inn at Little Washington. Yeah, right.
The secondary characters; of Melody’s family, the people who work at the pub and other villagers are once again the result of Crombie’s artistry with words. In all her books the characters are tied with the central mystery which is tied with the settings as most important for a Michelin Star. Oh wait wrong awards.
Although I have been reading this series for close to 20 years, it was still an amusing jolt for Crombie’s reminder that in GemmaDuncan world the series has only covered about six years. It is a neat trick and Crombie has handled the two time lines of reality vs GemmaDuncan world quite adroitly.
I searched high and low for something to be critical about in this review; the best I can come up with is I think Melody acted uncharacteristically a few times.
Read the series or at least some of it so you don’t miss following this compelling couple who have figured out how to combine family, new children, new pets and interesting, loyal friends with their careers. A Bitter Feast does work as a standalone, Crombie knows how to fill in the back-story.
Thanks to NetGalley for an ARC in exchange for a fair and honest review. (less)


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