A Bitter Feast (Duncan Kincaid and Gemma James Series #18)

A Bitter Feast (Duncan Kincaid and Gemma James Series #18)

by Deborah Crombie

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"Crombie’s characters are rich, emotionally textured, fully human. They are the remarkable creations of a remarkable writer."—Louise Penny

New York Times bestselling author Deborah Crombie returns with a mesmerizing entry in her “excellent” (Miami Herald) series, in which Scotland Yard detectives Duncan Kincaid and Gemma James are pulled into a dangerous web of secrets, lies, and murder that simmers beneath the surface of a tranquil Cotswolds village.

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 Britain’s 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, Gemma’s detective sergeant. The Talbot family is wealthy, prominent, and powerful—Melody’s father is the publisher of one of London’s 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 London’s 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 Viv’s pub—or, 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 Viv’s new pub? Or is it more personal, entwined with secrets hidden by Viv and those closest to her?

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780062271686
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 10/08/2019
Series: Duncan Kincaid and Gemma James Series , #18
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 384
Sales rank: 292
File size: 5 MB

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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A Bitter Feast 4.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 9 reviews.
Anonymous 6 days ago
Anonymous 6 days ago
Duncan and Gemma Kincaid and their children have been invited to spend a weekend in the Cotswolds with colleague Melody’s parents. Sounds relaxing, but then they find themselves involved in an automobile accident, and learn of several suspicious deaths. What happened to the woman who hit Duncan’s car, and who was the mystery man in the passenger seat? Who would want to deliberately run down a popular villager? And what about the financial irregularities with Lady Addie’s staff? Deborah Crombie is one of my favorite authors--she never disappoints. A Bitter Feast is recommended to anyone who enjoys well-plotted British police procedural. This novel can be read as a stand-alone; however, I suggest reading them in order for maximum enjoyment.
Anonymous 10 days ago
I was thrilled to receive this novel from NetGalley and HarperCollins in exchange for an honest review. I have read every book in this series of very British mysteries that, surprisingly, are written by an American author who lives in Texas. A Bitter Feast is book 18 in this fine series that has deepened over time. If you can, read the books in order for the people, the history and the relationships but, if you can't, this could be read as a standalone. Detectives Duncan Kincaid and Gemma Jones, who married many books ago, are invited to the country with their three children (Backstories on the children appear in earlier books as only one is the shared child of both Gemma and Duncan). They are invited by another police officer, Melody Talbot (again backstory in earlier novels), to her parents beautiful Cotswold home for the weekend. The descriptions of the countryside and the house will make you wish that you could hop a plane, unless you already live in Britain. Of course, there are murders. There is also lots of food as chefs are important characters in the story. Why was a famous chef murdered? Why was his demise followed by others? And of course, whodunnit? I thought that I knew but I was wrong. My only regret upon finishing A Bitter Feast was knowing that I now have to again begin the wait for the next book by this author. If you like traditional British mysteries/police procedurals, I highly recommend this one.
MauCarden6 10 days ago
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.
SheTreadsSoftly 11 days ago
A Bitter Feast by Deborah Crombie is a highly recommended addition to the Duncan Kincaid and Gemma James Series. Scotland Yard Detective Superintendent Duncan Kincaid, his wife, Detective Inspector Gemma James, and their children have been invited to Detective Sergeant Melody Talbot's family estate located in the Cotswolds. The Talbot family is wealthy and influential, and the weekend is going to feature Lady Addie's, Melody's mother, charity harvest luncheon which is being prepared by Chef Viv Holland. Viv was a well-known chef in London, but after leaving there and laying low for a while, she is now cooking for a pub and quickly reestablishing a name for herself. This event will be attended by local big wigs, as well as the national food press and restaurant critics. The whole event is plagued from the start. Viv has a chef she previously worked with show up and later that evening he is involved in a fatal traffic accident when the car he is riding in hits Duncan's car as he is headed to Talbot's estate. Duncan is injured but will recover, but this accident heralds the start of a weekend full of investigations to assist the local understaffed PD. There is a whole lot going on, but is it all tied to Viv's past or is there something else behind the nefarious activities. This is a comfortable continuation of the well-written, long running series. We know the characters and can easily slip into the current story and situation as the new characters are introduced and the mystery needs to be solved. The narrative covers the present day events and alternates to tell the story of Viv's past in the London restaurant scene. The characters are well-developed over the course of the series. It's difficult for me to evaluate character development based on this one book - I know these people. While I think it is likely best appreciated by readers of the series, it could also be read as a stand-alone, although there are enough references to things to keep you up to speed, but also to encourage reading the whole series. Disclosure: My review copy was courtesy of HarperCollins.
iiiireader 11 days ago
This is the first book I have read in this series. After starting it, I realized there were previous books but I was able to easily read this book stand-alone. It just made me want to go back to the beginning and start with book number one, which I have since purchased. The story is set in the Cotswolds, where husband and wife police duo, Duncan Kincaid and Gemma James, have been invited along with their children to spend a relaxing weekend, along with co-worker, Doug Cullen, as a guest of another co-worker. That co-worker, Melody Talbot, turns out to be from a family that is quite wealthy as well as powerful. The story begins with an introduction to Viv, a chef who is to cater a luncheon for Melody’s mother. She has been hiding her light at a small pub that she co-owns, rather than spending her time making a name for herself in London. She wants to spend more time with her daughter, Grace, who is eleven years old. Duncan and Gemma are traveling separately to the weekend get-away and to attend the luncheon. Gemma and the children arrive safely but Duncan gets involved an a nightmare of a car accident. While he walks away from it, the occupants of the other car do not. It quickly becomes clear that not all was as it seemed at first and there is a mystery to be solved. As there are four police officers from detective on down (Duncan, Gemma, Melody and Doug, the local detectives have more manpower than they would normally have to solve the case. More and more layers are added, as a another murder happens. All of the characters and plot twists tie together by the end. It provides for a fast-paced but also in-depth story to read. I’m looking forward to both continuing with the series and to going back and reading the previous seventeen books. I was provided a digital advance reader copy of this book by the publisher via Netgalley.
MLyons 11 days ago
Having read all of Deborah Crombie’s previous 17 books in this series, I was eager to read this one. It definitely did not disappoint! Duncan and Gemma, along with their kids, are invited for a relaxing weekend in the country in the Cotswolds at the home of DS Melody Talbot’s parents. But, of course, their weekend is far from relaxing, and things start to go wrong from the time they arrive. Duncan in involved in a car accident with fatalities on his way to the Talbots’ home, and then there is murder afoot. What ensues is a solid mystery, with a few nice twists and turns along the way. “A Bitter Feast” was another great read from Crombie, although I did not find this to be her strongest or best novel in the series. Some of her minor characters — like Doug — were not all that interesting and seemed a bit out of place. Nonetheless, some of her other minor characters — like Kit — are developing nicely, indeed. All in all, this was an entertaining story and reading it provided me with time to catch up with characters who have definitely become old friends. I eagerly await the next installment in their adventures. Thanks to the publisher and to Edelweiss for providing me with an advance reader's copy in exchange for my review.
rosalita923 11 days ago
You will be forgiven if your mouth waters uncontrollably while reading Deborah Crombie’s latest entry in the Duncan Kincaid/Gemma James mystery series, A Bitter Feast (HarperCollins, 2019). The action is set in the picturesque Cotswolds and centers around a pub in the village of Lower Slaughter, which boasts a world-class chef serving up the ultimate pub food. Why such a talent is toiling in obscurity after having shone at a Michelin-starred London eatery is just one of the mysteries that is eventually unraveled here. Others are more momentous, involving multiple suspicious deaths and the private lives of various village denizens. Crombie often weaves together storylines from the past and present in her mysteries, and A Bitter Feast is no exception. At regular intervals we jump back to chef Viv Holland’s time in London, learning how her culinary career began and why she left it behind. Characters from that past play key roles in the present, drawing the two storylines together in the end. Meanwhile, Detective Superintendent Kincaid and Detective Inspector James find their holiday weekend turned into a busman’s holiday almost at the off, when Duncan is involved in a serious automobile crash that leaves two people dead. His own injuries keep him from fully asserting himself in the subsequent investigations, but fortunately the local constabulary proves to be both up to the task and not afraid to accept help from Scotland Yard when it’s offered. It’s a refreshing change from the usual obstructionism that local law enforcement tends to exhibit in run-of-the-mill murder mysteries. Devoted fans of the series will be delighted that even though Gemma and Duncan have ventured out of London and away from their Metropolitan Police home base, many of the series’ most prominent secondary characters are along for the ride. Of course the couple’s children are along, and it’s a relief to find that Duncan’s son Kit is starting to outgrow his overly sensitive teenage persona and becoming a more well-rounded character in his own right. But we also get more-than-cameo appearances from Gemma’s detective sergeant, Melody Talbot, and Duncan’s own DS, Doug Cullen, as the quartet are spending the weekend at the country home of Melody’s posh parents. And then there’s the food. Oh my, the food! Crombie does a fine job of illustrating the chaos of a working commercial kitchen, and an even better job of describing the output of that process in delectable ways. I wasn’t very far into reading before I was tempted to book the next flight to the Cotswolds. Only the knowledge (revealed in Crombie’s author’s note) that the pub and chef are fictional kept me curled up in my reading chair until the end. For me, the appeal of Crombie’s work is tilted more heavily toward the compelling characters and world that she has created, though there’s nothing wrong with her plotting. I love both Duncan and Gemma, and I enjoy spending time with them, their blended family, and their friends. It was smart of Crombie to give a fresh feel to the series by moving the action outside of London, while retaining the core character set that drives much of the reader’s interest. And as always, even as a mystery is solved, the characters’ lives continue to grow and develop. This time around, I’m eager to read the next entry to find out how Melody’s personal dilemma resolves itself. If you’re already a fan of Duncan and Gemma et al., you don’t need me to tell you this is worth your time. If y
Reader4102 11 days ago
Duncan Kincaid and Gemma James have been invited to spend the weekend at the Cotswold home, Beck House. Beck House is the family estate of Melody Talbot, a colleague of Gemma’s. On his way to Beck House, Duncan is hit by another car. He’s injured, but not seriously, but the two people in the other car are dead, but not before the driver whispers a mysterious message to the concussed Duncan. A passenger, as it turns out, was already dead when the accident occurs. As the investigation into the death of the passenger deepens, the case takes unexpected twists and turns, and Gemma, Duncan, and Melody find themselves involved in the investigation. This is the 18th book in the Kincaid / James series. I started reading Crombie with her first book, “A Share of Death” (1993), but stopped reading them when the books became pale shadows of the first few books in the series. On a whim, I decided to read this book, and I am glad I did. This is a well-written, well-plotted mystery with familiar and likable characters and enough twists and turns to keep any reader engrossed. The ending is satisfying as well. Crombie’s descriptions of the Cotswolds will have you yearning for a vacation there. The reader need not be familiar with the series and/or the characters to enjoy this outing because Crombie gives the new reader enough information about the characters and their relationships so she is not left to wonder about those things. In addition, the new characters are well drawn and interesting. If you like your mysteries well written with storylines that are not stale and overused, this is the book for you. It deserves to be at the top, or near the top, of your to-be-read list. My thanks to Morrow and Edelweiss for an eARC.