February 9, 2023

A Bitter Feast

Duncan Kincaid & Gemma James #18
2019 William Morrow
Finished on February 7, 2023
Rating: 4/5 (Very Good)

Publisher's Blurb:

Scotland Yard Detective Superintendent Duncan Kincaid and his wife, Detective Inspector Gemma James, have been invited for a relaxing weekend in the tranquil Cotswolds, one of Britain’s most beautiful and historic regions, famous for its rolling hills, sheep-strewn green meadows, golden cottages, and timeless villages that retain the spirit of old England.

Duncan, Gemma, and their children are guests at Beck House, the country estate belonging to the family of Melody Talbot, Gemma’s trusted detective sergeant. No ordinary farmers, the Talbots are wealthy and prominent with ties to Britain’s most powerful and influential. A centerpiece of this glorious fall getaway is a posh charity luncheon catered by up-and-coming chef Viv Holland. After more than a decade in London, Viv has returned to her native Glouscestershire, making a name for herself with her innovative, mouthwatering use of the local bounty. Attended by several dozen of the area’s well-to-do, as well as national food bloggers and restaurant critics, the event could make Viv a star.

But a tragic car accident followed by a series of mysterious deaths could ruin her ascent. Each piece of information that surfaces makes it clear that the killer had a connection with Viv’s pub—and perhaps with Beck House itself.

Does the truth lie in the past? Or is it more immediate, woven into the tangled relationships and bitter resentments swirling among the staff at Beck House and at Viv’s pub? Or is it even more personal, entwined with secrets hidden by Viv, her business partner Bea Abbot, and Viv’s eleven-year-old daughter Grace?

Further revelations rock the Talbots’ estate and pull Duncan and Gemma and their colleagues into the investigation. With so much at stake both personally and professionally, especially for Melody Talbot, finding the killer becomes one of the team’s most crucial cases.

Two years ago (almost to the day), I began Deborah Crombie's mystery series, reading one book every month. I had previously read the first two installments in 2013 (the first of which was reviewed here), but too much time had elapsed and in an effort to reacquaint myself with the cast of characters, I started from the beginning in February 2021. Last night I finished the eighteenth installment and am now anxiously awaiting delivery of Crombie's new release, A Killing of Innocents, which should arrive in the mail any day.

It's been such a pleasure catching up on Duncan and Gemma's lives with each new book, and A Bitter Feast does not disappoint. While not the heart-pounding type of thriller I've grown accustomed to with Louise Penny's books, this mystery is well-crafted and kept me guessing up to the denouement in the final pages. Such a satisfying read! I know I've said it at least once, but I do wish PBS or Acorn would option the rights for a TV series. This would be a great show, perhaps in the hands of Anthony Horowitz.


  1. The setting has me attracted and I like how you described it. Oh my, I fear I'll die before I ever get to all the books I want to read!!

    1. Tina, this could almost read as a stand-alone. It would at least get you hooked on the series. :) As far as all the books I want to read before I die, I try hard not to think about that!

  2. This one appeals to me as I spent time in the Costwolds when I lived in the UK. It's such a wonderful part of the country.

    1. Helen, I would love to visit the Cotswolds. I didn't realize that you had lived in the UK. Lucky you!

  3. It's terrific you've read all of the series, wow! It sounds like a PBS series would be perfect. And I think you'd be the right screenwriter for it :-)

    1. Lol! I can't even imagine what it takes to be a screenwriter, but it would be awesome if someone took on that task.


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