Water Like a Stone

The Duncan Kincaid / Gemma James Mystery Series, Book 11
Narrated by: Michael Deehy
Length: 14 hrs and 19 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (126 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

When Scotland Yard superintendent Duncan Kincaid takes Gemma, Kit, and Toby for a holiday visit to his family in Cheshire, Gemma is soon entranced with Nantwich's pretty buildings and the historic winding canal, and young Kit is instantly smitten with his cousin Lally.

But their visit is marred by family tensions exacerbated by the unraveling of Duncan's sister Juliet's marriage. And tensions are brought to the breaking point on Christmas Eve with Juliet's discovery of a mummified infant's body interred in the wall of an old dairy barn - a tragedy hauntingly echoed by the recent drowning of Peter Llewellyn, a schoolmate of Lally's.

Meanwhile, on her narrowboat, former social worker Annie Lebow is living a life of self-imposed isolation and preparing for a lonely Christmas, made more troubling by her meeting earlier in the day with the Wains, a traditional boating family whose case precipitated Annie's leaving her job.

As the police make their inquiries into the infant's death, Kincaid discovers that life in the lovely market town of his childhood is far from idyllic and that the dreaming reaches of the Shropshire Union Canal hold dark and deadly secrets...secrets that may threaten everything and everyone he holds most dear.

A 2008 Macavity Award Finalist for Best Mystery Novel.

©2007 Deborah Crombie (P)2018 Blackstone Publishing
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Best of the Best

Mystery, family drama, and unmatched scenic location brought together by one of the best writers going make for a Christmas adventure set in England both exciting and moving.

3 people found this helpful

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Overloaded w/ miserable & bad people

I've read several Crombie mysteries - good plots, quality writing, really good description - but these were early in the Kincaid/Gemma series. This one, Water Like a Stone, is light on plot, most of the story spent in relentless describings of miserable people heading relentlessly toward a whole lot of different disasters. Crombie wades us slowly through all this with finally, some plot movement thrown in . . . for HEAVEN'S SAKE. This is not fun! Obviously we need good/bad dynamics and tension in a good mystery or detective book but this one is waaay too much dark misery for me. Detective and mystery novels are for entertainmant. When I'm into reflection on the deep painful side of being human and alive - I read books that are actually art like Dostoevsky, Steinbeck and so many others. I hope all of her more recent novels aren't like this because I enjoyed her earlier ones that had, to my mind, a better balance.

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Loved it!

Might actually be a my favorite of this series. The addition of more character development was great.

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Like able characters

Why does Deborah Crombie make her characters that die so three dimensional and like able? It’s way to painful!

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Good series, one caveat

I like this series, for the most part, but in this book and the one previous, I find the parenting going on pretty sad. In this book, it’s worst with Juliette - I would be more understanding if she’d just missed say, one thing going on with her daughter, but she missed mountains. And, the kids are left on their own a lot in this series. I wish the author would rely less on preoccupied parents to drive the story - especially when the poor parenting isn’t even recognized.

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A Real Clutch of Proper Villains

Gemma James and Duncan Kincaid continue their investigative work on a Christmas Holiday to to Duncan’s family in Cheshire. Not a peaceful Christmas although Duncan’s parents certainly are stellar in this story of family dysfunction and small town villains.

The details about the canal, the long boats and their owners make a story in and of themselves. Gemma and Duncan continent to bond a loving, blended family despite emotional wounds and their own insecurities

And what a delightful addition Chief Inspector Ronnie Babcock and his Sargent Shiela Larkin are to the cast of characters. Deborah Crombie has a real knack for introducing and incorporating 3 dimensional characters who enrich the content and draw in this reader with hopes to see them in future books.

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Too poignant for me,... sniff sniff..

While I have always enjoyed this series,.. this particular one was far and beyond sad,,... set at Christmas and the New Year it was doubly hard to endure ,.. too poignant, though multi layered, each and every sub story was either sad or infuriating,... be warned.

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More a travelogue than crime fiction

This entry in author Deborah Crombie’s Detectives Kincaid & James series is more a travelogue—about English canals and narrow boats—than crime fiction. It’s set in the “wilds of Cheshire” where the Londoners are celebrating Christmas with Kincaid’s parents.

I listened to the Audible version during this holiday season and found it heavily freighted with domestic drama (and some melodrama) about Kincaid’s sister, her despicable husband and terrible-teen daughter. Much of the story focuses on Duncan’s family, especially 13 yr-old Kit and his 14 yr-old cousin named Lally, the terrible-teen.

A contemporary murder finally happens about 60% into the book, so I’d say only about a third of this book is mystery and/or police procedural. That might’ve annoyed me, if this weren’t Christmas week.

It’s a good thing this is the Audible version, because I liked voice actor Michael Deehy’s narration. I’d probably have given the Kindle version a lower rating.

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Recommended for mystery readers

I feel lucky to have found this author. I’ve read, well, everything Agatha Christie wrote, continuing thru Louise Penny, Eliz George, etc. and too many unreliable narrator books. Glad to have found a new writer w good characterization, interesting absorbing story line. As a mystery I can’t give it absolutely top marks, as the killer was fairly obvious, but overall still worked up to satisfying solution(s). Look forward to more from this author