Water like a Stone (Duncan Kincaid and Gemma James Series #11)

Water like a Stone (Duncan Kincaid and Gemma James Series #11)

by Deborah Crombie

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Overview

Detective Superintendent Duncan Kincaid and his partner, Sergeant Gemma James, take their sons to picturesque Cheshire for their first family Christmas with Duncan's parents—a holiday both dreaded and anticipated. But not even the charming town of Nantwich and the dreaming canals can mask the tensions in Duncan's family, which are tragically heightened by the discovery of an infant's body hidden in the wall of an old dairy.

As Duncan and Gemma help the police investigate the infant's death, another murder strikes closer to home, revealing that far from being idyllic, Duncan's childhood paradise holds dark and deadly secrets . . . secrets that threaten everything and everyone Duncan and Gemma hold most dear.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780060525286
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 12/26/2007
Series: Duncan Kincaid and Gemma James Series , #11
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 416
Sales rank: 182,306
Product dimensions: 6.72(w) x 4.16(h) x 1.08(d)

About the Author

Deborah Crombie is a New York Times bestselling author and a native Texan who has lived in both England and Scotland. She now lives in McKinney, Texas, sharing a house that is more than one hundred years old with her husband, three cats, and two German shepherds.

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Water Like a Stone

Chapter One

December

Gemma James would never have thought that two adults, two children, and two dogs, all crammed into a small car along with a week's worth of luggage and assorted Christmas presents, could produce such a palpable silence.

It was Christmas Eve, and they'd left London as soon as she and her partner, Duncan Kincaid, could get away from their respective offices, his at New Scotland Yard, hers at the Notting Hill Division of the Metropolitan Police. They had both managed a long-overdue week's break from their jobs and were on their way to spend the holiday with Duncan's family in Cheshire, a prospect that Gemma viewed with more than a little trepidation.

In the backseat, her five-year-old son, Toby, had at last fallen asleep, his blond head tilted to one side, his small body sagging against the seat belt with the abandon managed only by the very young. Geordie, Gemma's cocker spaniel, was sprawled half in the boy's lap, snoring slightly.

Next to Toby sat Kit, Duncan's thirteen-year-old, with his little terrier, Tess, curled up beside him. Unlike Toby, Kit was awake and ominously quiet. Their anticipated holiday had begun with a row, and Kit had shown no inclination to put his sense of injury aside.

Gemma sighed involuntarily, and Kincaid glanced at her from the passenger seat.

"Ready for a break?" he asked. "I'd be glad to take over."

As a single fat raindrop splashed against the windscreen and crawled up the glass, Gemma saw that the heavy clouds to the north had sunk down to the horizon and were fast obliterating the last of the daylight. They'd crawled upthe M6 past Birmingham in a stop-and-start queue of holiday traffic, and only now were they getting up to a decent speed. "I think there's one more stop before we leave the motorway. We can switch there." Reluctant as she was to stop, Gemma had no desire to navigate her way through the wilds of Cheshire in the dark.

"Nantwich is less than ten miles from the motorway," Kincaid said with a grin, answering her unspoken thought.

"It's still country in between." Gemma made a face. "Cows. Mud. Manure. Bugs."

"No bugs this time of year," he corrected.

"Besides," Gemma continued, undeterred, "your parents don't live in the town. They live on a farm." The word was weighted with horror.

"It's not a working farm," Kincaid said, as if that made all the difference. "Although there is a dairy next door, and sometimes the smell does tend to drift a bit."

His parents owned a bookshop in the market town of Nantwich, but lived in an old farm-house a few miles to the north. Kincaid had grown up there, along with his younger sister, Juliet, and as long as Gemma had known him he'd talked about the place as if it were heaven on earth.

By contrast, having grown up in North London, Gemma never felt really comfortable out of range of lights and people, and she wasn't buying his glowing advertisements for country life. Nor was she thrilled about leaving their home. She had so looked forward to a Christmas unmarred by the calamities that had shadowed last year's holidays, their first in the Notting Hill house. And she felt the children needed the security of a Christmas at home, especially Kit.

Especially Kit. She glanced in the rearview mirror. He hadn't joined in their banter, and his face was still and implacable as he gazed out the window at the rolling Cheshire hills.

That morning, as Gemma had attempted a last-minute sort through a week's worth of neglected post, she'd come across a letter addressed to Kincaid and bearing Kit's school insignia. She'd ripped it open absently, expecting a fund-raising request or an announcement of some school activity. Then she'd stood in the kitchen, frozen with shock as she scanned the contents. It was from Kit's head teacher, informing Kincaid of her concern over the recent drop in Kit's academic performance and requesting that he schedule a conference after the holiday. Previous notes sent home with Kit by his teachers, the head had added, had come back with signatures the staff suspected had been forged.

Gemma had waited with tight-lipped restraint until Kincaid got home, then they'd confronted Kit together.

Things had not gone well. Kincaid, his anger fueled as much by Kit's duplicity as by concern over the boy's school performance, had shouted at his son while Toby and the dogs had cowered in the background. Kit had gone white and balled into himself as defensively as a threatened hedgehog, and Gemma found herself the peacemaker.

"It's too late to ring the head now," she'd said. "We'll have to wait until term takes up again after the holidays. Why don't we all calm down and not let this spoil our trip." Glancing at her watch, she added, "And if we don't get off soon, we'll never make it to your parents' in time for tonight's dinner."

Kincaid had turned away with a shrug of disgust to load the last of the luggage, and Kit had retreated into the stony silence he'd maintained since. It was ironic, Gemma thought, that although it was Kit who'd been called on the carpet, she felt that she and Duncan were the ones who had failed. They should have discussed how to handle things before they talked to Kit; perhaps they should even have spoken to the head teacher before tackling the boy.

Having recently come to at least a temporary resolution in the custody battle with Kit's maternal grandparents that had consumed much of their last year, they'd allowed themselves to be lulled into a false sense of security. Kit had at last agreed to have his DNA tested, and when a match proved Duncan was his biological father, the court had awarded him custody dependent on the continuing evaluation of the boy's well-being and the stability of his home life.

Water Like a Stone. Copyright © by Deborah Crombie. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

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Water like a Stone (Duncan Kincaid and Gemma James Series #11) 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 24 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Again, Crombie has given readers another great mystery with inviting charaters and interesting personal issues. She has beautfully merged the main characters personal lives with the events of their professional work.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This installment takes place around the waters surrounding Duncan's family's home. This book was so well written, mysteries that linked the past and the present, and local law working with Duncan and Gemma. Loved this one.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
will consider that not every book can be a winner. This may be one of the off days. Formatic. Perhaps blurb said too much as did several too long reviews off putting so archived and will try tofinish at a later date page counter
harstan More than 1 year ago
Police officers Duncan Kincaid, his live-in lover Gemma James, her five year old son, Toby, his thirteen year old son Kit and their two dogs are spending the Christmas holidays with his parents. Their vacation gets off to a bad start when Duncan¿s sister Juliet, a builder, finds the remains of an infant in a walled-up part of the building that she is remodeling. Kit is trying to befriend Juliet¿s daughter Lilly who is still mourning the drowning death of her friend Peter. --- Juliet¿s husband Casper has turned against his wife thanks to the machinations of his business partner Piers because she knows he is embezzling funds in their investment business. A social worker trying to help a former client who is mortally ill is murdered and Duncan finds himself helping the local authorities on that case. What nobody realizes is the drowned teen, the social worker and the infant are connected and finding the killer of one of the victims will lead to the murderer(s) of the other two. --- Deborah Crombie is one of this reviewer¿s favorite authors of police procedurals using an England style tone although the author is American. There is lots of action but this is a character driven mystery as readers get a personal glimpse into the lives of all the characters especially Duncan and Gemma. He cannot help but get involved in a case in which his friend heads the investigation and leads to a loved one almost getting killed. --- Harriet Klausner
jrtanworth on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is the first mystery by Deborah Crombie that I have read, and I was very favorably impressed.The characters are well developed and believable. The multiple plotlines are woven together well, the characters reflect a range of realistic relationships with each other, and the mysteries are resolved to my satisfaction. I'll look for other mysteries by this author.
cathyskye on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
First Line: Mist rose in swirls from the still surface of the canal.Duncan, Gemma, the boys and the dog are all spending the Christmas holiday in Cheshire with Duncan's parents. Duncan has always spoken of growing up outside the town of Nantwich as though it were heaven on earth. London born and bred, Gemma's not so sure of this, and she's a bit nervous at meeting Duncan's parents and sister. However, they're barely have time to walk in the door and take off their coats before everything starts going pear-shaped.Duncan's sister, Juliet, has begun her own business as a builder. Staying late one evening to finish up some tasks in an old barn she's renovating, Juliet discovers the mummified remains of an infant. The investigation calls to Duncan like the Pied Piper of Hamlin, and whenever "his whiskers start twitching", he can't resist leaving his family just to see how things are going. This soon wears thin with Gemma: "Don't you even think about leaving me home like the little woman," she spat out. "I'm going with you, and you'd better not say one bloody word about it."Duncan takes the hint... and then a woman living on a narrow boat in a nearby canal is murdered, and Duncan's family is in danger.This is another wonderful entry in the series. It's almost impossible for me to leave these books alone. I want to read one right after the other as quickly as I can, but if I do that, I'll be caught up and waiting impatiently for the next to be published.Crombie's plots are always layered and intricate. Once she hit her stride at about book #4, I just can't puzzle out whodunit ahead of time. But this series is much more than a collection of complicated plots. It's peopled by one of the absolute best cast of characters to be found anywhere in fiction. Duncan and Gemma's relationship feels like the real deal. Their son, Kit, could be a living, breathing teenager beset with all sorts of problems that are (eventually) dealt with in the best possible way. When I sit down to read one of these books, I'm smiling because I'm amongst friends who change, who make mistakes, who grow, and who don't live in a bell jar. These characters are just as apt to come to harm as any of us. Their creator doesn't shield them, just as we are not shielded.Crombie spends a few months each year in the UK to research her books. For Water Like a Stone she researched life on the narrow boats and canals that crisscross the island. (A photo of the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct is to the left.) If you're anything like me, as you read this book, you're going to find yourself checking for the books she mentions, and firing up your search engines because it's a fascinating subject to weave into her story.Only two books left before I'm completely caught up. I don't know whether to be happy or sad because it will be torture to wait for each book to be published! Do you have a series of books you feel passionately about?
cbl_tn on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Detective Superintendent Duncan Kincaid and his domestic partner, Detective Inspector Gemma James, are taking a week's break from their London jobs. Duncan, Gemma, Duncan's son, Kit, and Gemma's son, Toby, will be spending the Christmas holidays with Duncan's family in Cheshire. Their arrival at the Kincaid farmhouse coincides with a frantic call from Duncan's sister, Juliet. As she was finishing up one last task in the dairy barn she is renovating for a client, Juliet made a disturbing discovery -- an infant's body encased in the mortar of the wall she was demolishing. Duncan and Gemma are curious about the case, but are content to leave the investigation of the baby's identity and cause of death to the local constabulary. However, they're soon drawn into the investigation of a fresh crime when another body is discovered and members of Duncan's family appear to be in danger.I think this book could very well end up being my favorite of the series. The plot involves canal boats, and I've been fascinated with them ever since I first spotted a group on the river in Stratford-upon-Avon. I've been to Cheshire a few times (although never to Nantwich) and it's one of my favorite parts of England. The description of Nantwich and its architecture, especially the church, captured my imagination, and I was ready to hop on the next plane to see it in person. I had to settle for Google Images, though, where I found some nice photos of places described in the book.I think this book could work as a stand-alone, although I would recommend first reading Dreaming of the Bones and And Justice There Is None. Series fans won't want to miss this one!
thornton37814 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
It's Christmas. Duncan, Gemma, and the boys go to visit Duncan's family. When Duncan's sister Juliet discovers a baby mortared in the barn she's renovating, she immediately turns to Duncan for help. Although it is up to the local officials to solve, Duncan's unofficial involvement seems natural. When another member of Duncan's family stumbles over a body on a canal path, Gemma also becomes involved unofficially as well. The local chief is a friend of Duncan's from school. The book's setting along the canal and with the narrow boats that navigate it plays an important role in the book as well. This book had a lot of layers, and although I suspected the person who committed the murders fairly early, it kept me reading. There were certainly lots of suspects and motives to go around, and none of them could be easily discounted. This is definitely one of my favorites in the series!
wdwilson3 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
What sets Deborah Crombie apart from other authors of police procedurals is her rich characterization. Her regular cast of Scotland Yard detectives Duncan Kincaid and Gemma James and family are, of course, well developed over the course of the ten previous volumes, but she does well with the entire cast of characters she assembles. In ¿Water Like a Stone¿ the mystery itself is not particularly difficult to figure out, but as we become intrigued by the dramas in the lives of Crombie¿s characters, the mystery becomes of secondary interest. The more important thing is to see that all of the ¿good guys¿ are alive at the conclusion.There is a lot of information about English canals in this volume, and I found it quite fascinating. Crombie obviously enjoys her research and does it well. The setting, Cheshire, is one I¿m unfamiliar with, and I always enjoy a bit of travelogue with my mystery. Full marks.
smik on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The first Christmas with your partner's parents is never an easy one, and Gemma James is not sure she is looking forward to the one that she and Duncan Kincaid and their two boys will be spending with his parents in Cheshire. However on the eve of their arrival, Duncan's sister Juliet finds the mummified body of a baby concealed in the wall of a barn she is renovating, and everything takes on a different twist. Duncan finds the investigating officer called to the scene is someone he was at school with. Despite the setting in the small Shropshire town where Duncan Kincaid grew up, WATER LIKE A STONE has a big canvas feel to it. There are a number of threads, at least one murder, a couple of mini-mysteries to be solved, and plenty of action, all taking place in the holiday season of Christmas to New Year. Most enjoyable read. #11 in the James/Kincaid series
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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BejayS More than 1 year ago
Good read. Interesting plot and well rounded characters. Kincaid and James are a delightful team. Crombie leaves you wanting to read more.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
great reading
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I really like Deborah Crombie's books. I have several of them. And none disappoint.
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As always in this author's books, the setting and the characters assume an extra dimension. Interesting plot too.
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gAytheist More than 1 year ago
I have mixed feelings about this book. This is, in part, because I read it out of order. Perhaps if I had read all the books that came before this one I'd have liked this one better. I enjoyed the story and in particular some of the characters were very interesting, like the ex-social working who lived on a house boat. Indeed, the whole story was suffused with interesting information about the canal boats that ply the inland waters of Great Britain. The real problem with this book is that it becomes very obvious, very quickly, who the murder is. There's only one character that even remotely fits, and that character is basically a psychopath. So there's just not much mystery here. A good story about superintendant Kincaid and his lover/partner Gemma and their personal problems dealing with family and children. If you have enjoyed the previous volumes in the series you'll probably enjoy this one, but don't expect to be surprised by whodunit.