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A Bitter Feast

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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 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, 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.


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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 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, 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.

30 review for A Bitter Feast

  1. 5 out of 5

    Kaceey

    Another fabulous addition to one of my favorite long-running series. Scotland Yard Detective Superintendent Duncan Kincaid and his wife Detective Inspector Gemma James recently received an invitation from DS Melody Talbot to her family’s country home for a weekend getaway with the kids. So why does murder, mayhem and black clouds seem to follow them everywhere? Even on the grounds of these beautiful surroundings. Duncan doesn’t even make it to the estate before being broadsided on a deserted Another fabulous addition to one of my favorite long-running series. Scotland Yard Detective Superintendent Duncan Kincaid and his wife Detective Inspector Gemma James recently received an invitation from DS Melody Talbot to her family’s country home for a weekend getaway with the kids. So why does murder, mayhem and black clouds seem to follow them everywhere? Even on the grounds of these beautiful surroundings. Duncan doesn’t even make it to the estate before being broadsided on a deserted country road. Leaving 2 crash victims dead. Possibly, one who may have actually died prior to the crash itself! Hmmmm... Once safely back at the Talbot's family home recuperating, Duncan and his wife Gemma take it upon themselves to assist the local police force in the investigation! I’ve been reading this complete series for years and will say this book can truly stand on its own. Just the same… I believe you’ll find it even more entertaining by starting at the beginning with book one, A Share In Death. With so much development of the characters over the years, you would be missing out on so much! This series is worthy of a binge read! Thank you to Edelweiss, William Morrow and Deborah Crombie for an ARC to read and review.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Debra

    3.5 stars Thankfully, this book read as a stand-alone novel for me. When I was offered the book, I had no idea that this book was #18 in a series. Luckily for me, Deborah Crombie wrote and intriguing book about murders in the Cotswolds. Scotland Yard Detective Superintendent Duncan Kincaid and his wife, Detective Inspector Gemma James have been invited to spend the weekend with friends, the Talbot family. They are there for a quiet weekend and to attend a charity luncheon. Arriving separately from 3.5 stars Thankfully, this book read as a stand-alone novel for me. When I was offered the book, I had no idea that this book was #18 in a series. Luckily for me, Deborah Crombie wrote and intriguing book about murders in the Cotswolds. Scotland Yard Detective Superintendent Duncan Kincaid and his wife, Detective Inspector Gemma James have been invited to spend the weekend with friends, the Talbot family. They are there for a quiet weekend and to attend a charity luncheon. Arriving separately from his family, Duncan is involved in a fatal car crash. What's more interesting is that one of the deceased may have been dead prior to the crash. This crash is just the beginning, as the crash is investigated, the reader is introduced to various characters including Viv, a chef who left London to raise her daughter and work in the Cotswolds. Viv also happens to be the Chef preparing the food for the posh charity luncheon. As the various characters are introduced, it is evident that many have secrets and have secret pasts and interactions with each other. As the investigation progresses, the story is further told through flashbacks to Viv's work history in London. I found this to be an engaging and compelling read. I really enjoyed it and I have to say it made me want to go back and read the earlier books in the series. I enjoyed how the story was told and getting to know the characters both major and minor. I found this to be a fast read which did not disappoint and may even make you hungry with all the food talk. Plus, if you have never been to the Cotswolds, you may want to take a trip to both Upper and Lower Slaughter. Thank you to William and Morrow HarperCollins Publishers and NetGalley who provided me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All the thoughts and opinions are my own.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Maureen Carden

    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 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.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Diane S ☔

    3.5 The married Inspector duo have taken their three children on a vacation. Their destination is the familial home of fellow officer Melody whose parents are minor members of the peerage. The place is beautiful, Melody's parents lovely and welcoming, the gardens to die for, and peace and quiet is their hope. It goes wrong almost from the beginning, an accident with fatalities, which quickly turns into a crime. So much for rest! I've read and enjoyed this series from the beginning. I love the 3.5 The married Inspector duo have taken their three children on a vacation. Their destination is the familial home of fellow officer Melody whose parents are minor members of the peerage. The place is beautiful, Melody's parents lovely and welcoming, the gardens to die for, and peace and quiet is their hope. It goes wrong almost from the beginning, an accident with fatalities, which quickly turns into a crime. So much for rest! I've read and enjoyed this series from the beginning. I love the Kincaid's mixed family, and it was nice to see fifteen year old Kit take on more of a role. The story while intriguing was also rather cluttered. Too much going on and much running here and there, back and forth. Loved all the food talk of course, that is always an interest if mine. So my review os mixed, but since I know all these chara there and their backstories so we'll, I will be on the lookout for the next. ARC from Edelweiss

  5. 5 out of 5

    Mackenzie - PhDiva Books

    For those who don’t like anything too dark out of their mystery/thrillers, Deborah Crombie’s newest mystery A Bitter Feast is sure to delight you! With a fascinating mystery but not too much darkness, this is a great October read! What appears to be a vehicular accident leads to the uncovering of a murder (or two) in the quaint setting of Cotswold village. About the Book DS Duncan Kincaid and his wife, DI Gemma James, have been invited for a relaxing weekend in the Cotswolds at the family estate For those who don’t like anything too dark out of their mystery/thrillers, Deborah Crombie’s newest mystery A Bitter Feast is sure to delight you! With a fascinating mystery but not too much darkness, this is a great October read! What appears to be a vehicular accident leads to the uncovering of a murder (or two) in the quaint setting of Cotswold village. About the Book DS Duncan Kincaid and his wife, DI Gemma James, have been invited for a relaxing weekend in the Cotswolds at the family estate of Gemma's detective sergeant Melody Talbot. When a vehicular crash ends in the deaths of two people, things quickly escalate. Chef Viv has left behind her role at Fergus O'Reily's famous Michelin-rated restaurant and is working at a local pub. When A patron of the pub picks Fergus up after noticing he seemed ill and gets into a crash, it becomes clear that Fergus was fatally poisoned prior to the crash. 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? Reflection I looked up Lower Slaughter in Gloucestershire, particularly after a character comments on the name and asks if it means what it sounds like (it doesn’t actually, it is apparently derived from the word “slough” which means wetland), and I seriously recommend googling it. It is one of the quaintest, photogenic fairy tale towns I’ve seen and I enjoyed the book much more after seeing it, because the great descriptions came to life in that context. It even has a road that was named the most romantic street in Britain in 2011. How adorable! It just so happens that the detectives are in Lower Slaughter at the home of Melody’s wealthy parents, and they come across a case. I though Melody’s worries about how she might be perceived differently by her colleagues after they knew the wealthy background she was raised in was an interesting element. In many fields, this wouldn’t be a negative. However, many people in the law enforcement profession are of more humble means than Melody. They do the job because they are passionate about it, not because they think it will bring great wealth. This is the first I’ve read in the series, but it is actually 18th in the line up. I did think there were a lot of characters, but I got to know them quickly and I had no trouble jumping in. Honestly if I was told this was a standalone, I’d believe it! The mystery is solely contained within these pages, and it’s a good one! While headed into town, Duncan and Gemma are involved in a vehicular crash that leads to an unexpected murder investigation. There are two victims dead following the crash, and one may have been dead prior to the accident. Quite a puzzle! One is Fergus, the former boss of Viv, the former chef at his Michelin-star restaurant in Chelsea. Viv is not created the most delectable sounding, high-quality pub food at Lamb, a pub in Lower Slaughter (seriously, mouth-watering descriptions of food). The other victim is Nell, a patron of Lamb who stops to pick Fergus up after she sees him walking down the road sick (at first she thinks he may be drunk). When it appears that Fergus may have been poisoned prior to the crash, Duncan and his wife Gemma (both detectives), help investigate even though they don’t really have jurisdiction. As the case unfolds, another murder comes to light. I loved the flashbacks to Viv’s time working in Fergus’s restaurant over a decade earlier. I learned a lot in terms of respect for what it takes to work in such a high-end, fine dining establishment. Those Michelin ratings don’t come easy! The settings in general were so fun, from the sprawling Beck House (owned by Melody’s parents), to the gardens, the quaint streets, the pub where Viv works, and even the flashbacks to the big city restaurant. Deborah Crombie certainly draws a good setting! Expect some good gossip into the back story of these characters and their relationships, some delectable food descriptions, an intricately-plotted story, and smooth as butter transitions as we keep up with each character. I loved this mystery! Thank you to TLC Book Tours and William Morrow for my copy. Opinions are my own.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Maureen Carden

    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. 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.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Barb in Maryland

    Well, Duncan, Gemma and their children think they are set for a relaxing weekend in the Cotswolds, but fate has other plans. Duncan is injured in a car crash and before he can recover, he and Gemma find themselves caught up in a couple of local murders.. I really enjoyed this one--I became quite fond of DI Colin Booth, the local detective in charge of the murder investigation. I liked our local chef, Viv Holland, who is somehow central to both deaths. As always, the author did a great job with Well, Duncan, Gemma and their children think they are set for a relaxing weekend in the Cotswolds, but fate has other plans. Duncan is injured in a car crash and before he can recover, he and Gemma find themselves caught up in a couple of local murders.. I really enjoyed this one--I became quite fond of DI Colin Booth, the local detective in charge of the murder investigation. I liked our local chef, Viv Holland, who is somehow central to both deaths. As always, the author did a great job with fleshing out all the minor characters. A note of warning: do not read while hungry! The food descriptions are fabulous. It was nice to catch up with Duncan, Gemma, and their family and friends. While reading this I realized that I had missed an earlier book or two. Must rectify that soonest!

  8. 4 out of 5

    Lucy Burdette

    Although this is the 18th book in Deborah Crombie's series featuring two English detectives, she is absolutely not riding on her laurels. The characters are fully drawn, from adults to kids to dogs, the Cotswold setting magical, the mystery engaging--and oh the food! I read it twice just to be sure I didn't miss anything.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Lesa

    It's always a pleasure to pick up one of Deborah Crombie's Duncan Kincaid/Gemma James novels. However, no matter what she calls the latest book, A Bitter Feast is a treat for the reader. And, that's for any reader. While most of the books in this series should be read in order, Crombie says A Bitter Feast can be read by itself. Even if you've never read one of these books, you should try this British police procedural and story of relationships. All of Crombie's beloved characters have roles in It's always a pleasure to pick up one of Deborah Crombie's Duncan Kincaid/Gemma James novels. However, no matter what she calls the latest book, A Bitter Feast is a treat for the reader. And, that's for any reader. While most of the books in this series should be read in order, Crombie says A Bitter Feast can be read by itself. Even if you've never read one of these books, you should try this British police procedural and story of relationships. All of Crombie's beloved characters have roles in this book. Duncan and Gemma's family is gathering from all locations for a weekend in the Cotswolds. Melody Talbott, who works with Gemma, has invited the entire family and her co-worker Doug Cullen, to stay at Beck House, her parents' weekend escape. For years, Melody has hidden her family status from co-workers, but this small group knows her father, Sir Ivan, is the publisher of a London newspaper, and her mother, Lady Adelaide, owns the paper and has a great deal of money. But, for the weekend, Ivan and Addie are hosts, and Addie is the host of a charity luncheon catered by Viv Holland, the chef at the Lamb, the local pub. Gemma and her young daughter, Charlotte, arrive with Melody. But, Duncan is involved in a tragic car accident just before he arrives at Beck House. And, it's a banged up man who arrives with injuries. Even so, when Ivan provides the opportunity, Kincaid is eager to look into the details of the accident and the lives of the people who died. It seems they were both at the Lamb before they drove off. Those are only the first deaths connected to the pub, though. When another death is declared a murder, all eyes focus on Viv and the Lamb. And, for some reason, Viv's young daughter is the first to accuse her. A Bitter Feast is an intriguing puzzle that slowly comes together with input from most of the cast. The beautifully written story is descriptive and atmospheric. But, it's the cast that shines in Crombie's latest book. She allows readers to see the story through Viv's past, Melody's view, and Duncan and Gemma's feelings about the weekend, the aftermath of the accident. She puts it all together as part of the investigation. And, it's a joy to watch Duncan and Gemma's oldest son, Kit, as he steps up to cover work in the kitchen and assist with the younger kids. Kit is observant and caring, while still showing a young man's enthusiasm for cars. Some readers will enjoy the accounts of all the food in the pub and earlier restaurants. Some will appreciate the gardens. Crombie brings all those elements, and that strong group of characters, together in one of her best books in the series. A Bitter Feast is truly a feast for fans of the series, or for fans of police procedurals.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Priya Shrinath

    Full review here: https://wp.me/pajm6f-t6 Gemma James and Duncan Kincaid along with their three kids are invited to spend the weekend with Gemma’s colleague Melanie Talbot and her parents at their weekend mansion The Beck House. Situated in a quaint little Scottish village, it’s the perfect locale to spend the weekend with family! Melanie’s mother, Lady Adelaide Talbot has arranged a luncheon at her house, where the local chef Vivian Holland is said to cater for her guests including a number of Full review here: https://wp.me/pajm6f-t6 Gemma James and Duncan Kincaid along with their three kids are invited to spend the weekend with Gemma’s colleague Melanie Talbot and her parents at their weekend mansion The Beck House. Situated in a quaint little Scottish village, it’s the perfect locale to spend the weekend with family! Melanie’s mother, Lady Adelaide Talbot has arranged a luncheon at her house, where the local chef Vivian Holland is said to cater for her guests including a number of food bloggers and journalists. Addie has certainly meant to encourage Viv’s talents and show her off to the world, but somehow disaster strikes in the form of a car accident involving a famous London based Chef and a local woman. This leaves the entire village shattered and the detective couple are forced to lend their hands in the investigation with the local police DI Booth to avoid more body count. But will it be too late for that? I totally enjoyed reading this book. In Spite of being a series, it totally worked as a standalone book as it’s very easy to catch up with Gemma and Kincaid and the other characters. Although the book is categorized as a crime thriller, I found myself to be distracted by all the delicious, mouth-watering cuisine, good wine, and the tranquil landscape of Britain’s most beautiful and historic Cotswolds. Author Deborah has made sure her readers doesn’t miss a bit of joy teleporting themselves the gorgeous green meadows and golden cottages, sipping delicious wine and crunching exotic meals! A Bitter Feast is a chunky book with every character and setting written to the slightest detail. I loved the suspense behind every new character, creating a sense of doubt and mistrust as the story grows. I loved how the author manages to show the same cottage which is mesmerizing in the daylight to be sinister and haunting in the dark! Deborah plays skillfully with words hooking her readers offering food, wine and a mindful of gardening ideas for their own homes! HIghly recommended read of the year. Many thanks to the publisher for an ARC. All opinions are solely mine and are no way biased.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Kathy

    Cotswolds is the setting for this 18th book in the Duncan Kincaid & Gemma James series. The parents of one of Gemma's co-workers has graciously invited them for a visit where some special events are planned. Gemma and the children get there safely via train, but Duncan is involved in a serious road accident close to the house he was driving to. The two people in the car that hit his do expire on the scene. So...the book does open with a bang. There are a lot of characters in this book, but I Cotswolds is the setting for this 18th book in the Duncan Kincaid & Gemma James series. The parents of one of Gemma's co-workers has graciously invited them for a visit where some special events are planned. Gemma and the children get there safely via train, but Duncan is involved in a serious road accident close to the house he was driving to. The two people in the car that hit his do expire on the scene. So...the book does open with a bang. There are a lot of characters in this book, but I would not call it a mystery. I identified the killer in the bunch with ease. Sometimes when that happens it irks, as one wants to hit the forehead with a resounding " Duh!" - like why can't these people figure this out more easily? So...while this made me feel impatient to have so many pages to read through until they all figured it out and caused more people to die and/or be threatened I stayed with it. But it bumped it down a star for me. I did enjoy the descriptions of the architecture, gardens and cooking, and I suppose there were some heartwarming family scenes though I rarely warm up to those. Maybe I should let go of this series, but I have been reading it for years so maybe I need to see a happy family now and then. Library Loan

  12. 5 out of 5

    Anne - Books of My Heart

    This review was originally posted on Books of My Heart Review copy was received from Publisher. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review. I've enjoyed every book in the Duncan Kincaid & Gemma James series . I've only recently starting listening to them on audio and that is such a pleasure. I love mysteries set in England. Even though there are now 18 books, I do believe it is important to read them all and in order. There is a huge amount of character This review was originally posted on Books of My Heart   Review copy was received from Publisher. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.   I've enjoyed every book in the Duncan Kincaid & Gemma James series . I've only recently starting listening to them on audio and that is such a pleasure.  I love mysteries set in England. Even though there are now 18 books, I do believe it is important to read them all and in order.  There is a huge amount of character development in the main characters, their families, friends, and co-workers. The previous book Garden of Lamentations had each of the main characters involved in a variety of cases. So they did not have much interaction or time with personal developments, with little time with family and friends. A Bitter Feast is just the opposite with lots of time with family and friends as they are on a family weekend at a co-workers' home. Their co-workers are some of their best friends. The trip starts with Duncan in a car crash where the other cars' participants die. He and Gemma become involved in figuring out who the people are and why they died since something is off about it. As more deaths occur, they work to find the truth. In addition to the facts, they consider the people involved and their feelings, working with compassion.  Duncan and Gemma do such a masterful job  both professionally, and personally pitching in with a charity event.  Kit gets involved with helping at the event and is so responsible and considerate in his work. I love everything about these stories from the excellent world building, the well developed multitude of characters, the police aspects of gathering information, the close circle of friends and the family growth. There is so much detail on their emotional journeys with worries about Duncan's injuries and Melody's boyfriend troubles.    I look forward to each new one eagerly. I enjoyed Viv, a new character, who is a chef and single parent, with a difficult past. The food descriptions were fantastic.  The incredible descriptions and characters in this small town they visited were excellent and Crombie really brought these characters to life. Narration: Gerard Doyle handles this series well and I have enjoyed him with each listen.  I loved the English accents, although I don't know if they were accurate.  The characters had distinct voices, male, female and the children which felt authentic.  I was able to listen at my normal 1.5x speed. Listen to a clip: https://soundcloud.com/harperaudio_us...

  13. 5 out of 5

    rosalita

    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 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 you’ve not had the pleasure of meeting them yet, I would suggest starting with the first in the series, A Share in Death, and working your way forward. Some series don’t need to be read in order, but this one is infinitely more rewarding if you experience the characters’ growth and change along the way. Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book through NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Leslie

    This terrific mystery series just keeps delivering excellent entries--for characters, plot, and setting. It's highly entertaining, and it also has an interesting subplot of the dynamics of restaurant kitchens. Author Crombie develops new situations with each of these mysteries, so at #18, it is not a rehash of everything that has gone before. My full review is at https://readersforecast.blogspot.com/....

  15. 4 out of 5

    Linden

    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 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.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Joan

    Kept me guessing right to the end. Deborah Crombie never disappoints. This was a bit of a change in so far as the setting, and what a perfect setting it is with rolling fields, sheep and border collies, quaint cottages, cozy pubs, good food and spirits and a few suspicious deaths. The story kicks off with Gemma, Duncan and family, Doug and Melody leaving London for a long weekend at Melody’s parents’ country home in the Cotswold. Melody’s mother, Lady Addie, is hosting a charity event luncheon. Kept me guessing right to the end. Deborah Crombie never disappoints. This was a bit of a change in so far as the setting, and what a perfect setting it is with rolling fields, sheep and border collies, quaint cottages, cozy pubs, good food and spirits and a few suspicious deaths. The story kicks off with Gemma, Duncan and family, Doug and Melody leaving London for a long weekend at Melody’s parents’ country home in the Cotswold. Melody’s mother, Lady Addie, is hosting a charity event luncheon. The event is also an opportunity to meet and get to know her daughter’s coworkers and friends. Lady Addy contracted Viv Holland, a talented London Michelin star chef to take charge of the food preparations. For the last dozen years though, Viv relinquished the adrenaline rush and climb to fame in the glitzy London restaurant scene to raise her daughter as a single mom. Now, she has re-established her professional career in a rural, idyllic Cotswold community. Yet, news of the luncheon reaches London, and a man from Viv’s past visits with the intention to lure her back into the London restaurant scene. This visit sets off a chain of events that soon turn deadly. Although Gemma, Duncan, Doug and Melody are not officially investigating the deaths, they soon find themselves personally drawn into the case. This is the 18th book in this series. Like me, other readers of this series can look forward to enjoying a solid mystery, a good story and something akin to a visit with old friends. Thank you to NetGalley for the advance reading copy of this book.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Edith Maxwell

    The wait for Crombie's 18th mystery was well worth it. In A Bitter Feast, she takes Duncan Kincaid and Gemma James - and their three children - for a weekend in the idyllic countryside. Of course murder happens, and more than one. The several storylines are complex and interwoven in the expert way only Crombie can pull off. So are the multiple points of view. I was never confused about whose scene it was. Gemma and Duncan's teen son Kit plays an important role. Chef Viv's history pops up at The wait for Crombie's 18th mystery was well worth it. In A Bitter Feast, she takes Duncan Kincaid and Gemma James - and their three children - for a weekend in the idyllic countryside. Of course murder happens, and more than one. The several storylines are complex and interwoven in the expert way only Crombie can pull off. So are the multiple points of view. I was never confused about whose scene it was. Gemma and Duncan's teen son Kit plays an important role. Chef Viv's history pops up at intervals to twine in her London past. We are immersed in the difficult lives of professional chefs. We see intimate relationships backfire in alarming ways. You can almost touch and smell the English Cotswalds. And it's all in the service of the story. Crombie unpeels the layers of the puzzle slowly and carefully. Read this book. It was written by a master, and you'll happily lose sleep turning the pages.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Kathy

    There’s a question that surfaces every so often for readers. What books would you want with you if you were stranded on a deserted island. As with most questions concerning favorite books, I fudge a little and give myself some license to expand the question. So, I choose the entire Gemma James and Duncan Kincaid mystery/crime series by author Deborah Crombie. Granted, there are a few other series that would be sitting with my supply of coconuts, but Gemma and Duncan will always be there. Every There’s a question that surfaces every so often for readers. What books would you want with you if you were stranded on a deserted island. As with most questions concerning favorite books, I fudge a little and give myself some license to expand the question. So, I choose the entire Gemma James and Duncan Kincaid mystery/crime series by author Deborah Crombie. Granted, there are a few other series that would be sitting with my supply of coconuts, but Gemma and Duncan will always be there. Every book in this series has been an immersive experience in exceptional characters, old and new, engrossing setting, and gripping story. Under the direction of Deborah Crombie’s masterful pen, the words flow into phrases, the phrases into sentences, and the sentences into pages of unforgettable journey with two of the best characters in crime fiction. There is life in these stories that sweeps the reader into complete engagement. And, the latest entry in this series, A Bitter Feast (#18), is one of the best books of one of the best series. Yet, having said that last statement, if I were to go back and read an earlier installment in the series, it’s probable that I would also deem it one of the best. How great is that? Always knowing that you will love a book and it will be a best read. Detective Superintendent Duncan Kincaid and Detective Inspector Gemma James and their three children have been invited to the Cotswold estate of Melody Talbot’s parents. Melody is Gemma’s proved detective sergeant and has always been rather reticent to discuss her wealthy background, Melody’s father being the publisher of a major London newspaper, and her mother being the money behind the paper. So, the invitation to spend a weekend at Beck House in one of England’s most beautiful locations, the Costwolds, is a lovely getaway for Duncan and Gemma, and it’s a step forward for Melody in dealing with blending her two lives. Doug Cullen, Duncan’s right hand man, is also in the guest party. They all arrive in different ways and at different times, and Duncan’s arrival turns out to be quite the perilous one that leads to a busman’s holiday for Duncan and Gemma. Melody’s mother, Lady Adelaide, is hosting a charity luncheon for the community, catered by the local chef, Viv Holland, who is also the proprietor of the Lamb Pub. Chef Viv has gained a loyal local following after returning from some years in London to her home area and making a concerted effort to use local produce and goods in her dishes. The luncheon could bring national attention to Viv’s culinary skills, something she finally feels ready for. Author Deborah Crombie has created some of the most memorable new characters, those outside of the constant family of characters, in the different books, keeping the series fresh while satisfying readers’ need for the familiar, too. Viv Holland is the latest in those memorable new characters, and A Bitter Feast is very much Viv’s story, as her life past and present connects directly to the plot’s unfolding and resolution. The problems, as must always arise, start with Duncan’s perilous journey to Beck House when he is involved in an auto crash with two fatalities, one of whom has a history with Chef Viv. Duncan is quite shaken in the crash, but he still gets involved in the investigation into it, as does Gemma. An investigation into the accident becomes necessary mostly due to the discovery that one of the two fatalities, from the same car, was dead before the accident occurred. That particular fatality has ties to Viv when she lived in London and involves information she would rather see stay in the past. But secrets from the past are a hard ghost to keep buried, and when the danger to others intensifies, Viv worries she hasn’t outrun her past. Told from multiple points of view, it is captivating to see how cleverly all the information comes together to answer all the questions and solve all the mysteries. As I noted earlier, this story belongs to Viv, and it is with Crombie’s smooth transitions readers will travel back with Viv to her London days and what brought her back to the village of Lower Slaughters in Gloucestershire. The inner workings of a high-end restaurant and the food descriptions in the book are fascinating. The artistry and passion of a chef’s work is evident, and the drive to achieve a Michelin star is an intense struggle. Insight into Gemma’s and Duncan’s and the police’s investigation, their process, of the crimes allows the reader to feel the suspense of getting closer to the killer. The staff of Viv’s pub and Viv’s daughter provide additional information that connects to those murdered and the murderer. Another multiplicity that the author deftly handles is that of a number of intriguing characters. Under Deborah Crombie’s direction, there is never any confusion nor difficulty in remembering the characters, as they are blended beautifully into the thrilling plot. We have Duncan and Gemma and their children—Kit, Toby, and Charlotte—and, readers will enjoy an expanded part for Kit in this story. The characters from Viv’s pub, which she co-owns with Bea Abbott, and Viv’s daughter all play important parts. Then there are Melody’s parents and Melody, their staff, and the village residents helping to move the plot forward, with Melody’s father making introductions between Duncan and the local police. It’s another first-rate cast that performs brilliantly. And, of course, nobody does setting any better than Deborah Crombie. Her books set in the different parts of London make the reader see, feel, and taste the place. She does no less for the Costwolds, bringing the beauty of this tranquil setting right into your heart. The many fans of this series will heartily attest to the pleasure of reading from book one to this book, #18, and getting to know Gemma and Duncan and the other familiar characters. But, here is the hidden gem to A Bitter Feast. It could be read as a stand-alone story. Again, there’s nothing quite like reading the development of characters from one book to the next, but a reader who hasn’t read the previous 17 novels could read this current book with immense satisfaction. However readers come to A Bitter Feast, long-time fans or new readers, the result is an outstanding read. For me, A Bitter Feast was a delectable feast indeed.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Lori L (She Treads Softly)

    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 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. http://www.shetreadssoftly.com/2019/1...

  20. 4 out of 5

    John Wintersteen

    Written up by Marilyn Stasio in oct 18 NYT column. Apparently it’s a departure from the usual book. It’s number 18. Good rating. Might be worth reading and backtracking down six or seven.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Patty

    A Bitter Feast By Deborah Crombie What it's all about... Gemma, Duncan and family are off to the country for a relaxing weekend and a special luncheon. Little do they know of the unrelaxing weekend that awaits them. Duncan is in an accident...there are quite a few murders and disturbing mysteries present themselves. My thoughts after reading this book... What can I say..I love these books, these characters and these mysteries. The characters are all very special to me. The family seems to have A Bitter Feast By Deborah Crombie What it's all about... Gemma, Duncan and family are off to the country for a relaxing weekend and a special luncheon. Little do they know of the unrelaxing weekend that awaits them. Duncan is in an accident...there are quite a few murders and disturbing mysteries present themselves. My thoughts after reading this book... What can I say..I love these books, these characters and these mysteries. The characters are all very special to me. The family seems to have reached a contented arrangement...they seem to have the right number of children as well as pets...but Duncan and Gemma seem to be always in the midst of murder, mystery and mayhem! What I loved best... These novels always begin with a delicious slowness. The English countryside, gardens, tea, and making new connections. Then something always happens...in this case Duncan’s accident...and many things that originally seemed innocent...begin to be steeped in secrets and danger and unexplained deaths. What potential readers might want to know... I have been reading and loving Deborah Crombie’s books for ages. Readers who enjoy a lovely well thought out mystery will love this one, I think it’s one of my favorites! I think this book can be a standalone BUT I think it might be difficult. Previous books explain how this family and these characters have come together. But the books are so skillfully written that if I had not read them I would start with book one and declare this my summer reading project! I received this book from the publisher through Edelweiss. It was my choice to read and review it.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Whitney

    Thank you so much @williammorrowbooks #partner for sending me a copy of the new @deborah.crombie novel A Bitter Feast in time for vacation!!! It was definitely the highlight of my trip. • If you’ve been around here a bit, you may know that my all-time favorite genre is mystery, and one of my all-time favorite series is the Kincaid & James series by Deborah Crombie. Set in England (of course, because I don’t read it unless it has a British accent ), the series is part detective procedural, part Thank you so much @williammorrowbooks #partner for sending me a copy of the new @deborah.crombie novel A Bitter Feast in time for vacation!!! It was definitely the highlight of my trip. • If you’ve been around here a bit, you may know that my all-time favorite genre is mystery, and one of my all-time favorite series is the Kincaid & James series by Deborah Crombie. Set in England (of course, because I don’t read it unless it has a British accent 😆), the series is part detective procedural, part exploration of British landscape and history, and part family drama as we follow the relationship development between the two main detectives. • Her latest novel comes out in October, and it’s well worth the wait! A Bitter Feast is set in the Cotswolds, where two mysterious deaths cast suspicion on a rising pub chef with a secretive background. Of course, Duncan and Gemma are in town with their kids, and are pulled into the investigation. The narrative is rich with food culture, Cotswolds beauty, and a look at human nature and what drives one to murder. • I discovered this series thanks to @annebogel and there are 17 books before this one. It’s definitely worth starting at the beginning, to fully understand the relationships and storyline. • So tell me (because I’m on a big mystery binge right now) - what’s your favorite series?

  23. 5 out of 5

    Laurie

    Duncan Kincaid, Gemma James, and their family have been invited to spend a quiet weekend in the Cotswolds at the family home of Melody Talbot (Gemma’s DS). When Duncan is involved in a deadly car crash that isn’t all that it seems, and another mysterious death follows, Duncan and Gemma find themselves pulled into the investigation. A Bitter Feast may be 18th in the Kincaid/James series, but for me it was as good as the very first! What made this an engaging read for me was the characters. They Duncan Kincaid, Gemma James, and their family have been invited to spend a quiet weekend in the Cotswolds at the family home of Melody Talbot (Gemma’s DS). When Duncan is involved in a deadly car crash that isn’t all that it seems, and another mysterious death follows, Duncan and Gemma find themselves pulled into the investigation. A Bitter Feast may be 18th in the Kincaid/James series, but for me it was as good as the very first! What made this an engaging read for me was the characters. They are not cardboard cutouts. Every character is believable…sometimes sympathetic, sometimes antagonistic, but always real. That is what makes me turn the page. Also I found myself wrapped up in the story from the start. The plot was exciting and intriguing, and the setting gave it a Golden Age of Detection feel. A family weekend in a small village, interesting personal and family dynamics, and a mysterious man in a pub murdered. Everything I look for in a good mystery. Thank you to Edelweiss and Harper Collins for the advance reader copy made available for my review.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Angie Boyter

    A feast, yes; bitter, not at all! Detective sergeant Melody Talbot has invited Duncan Kincaid, his wife Gemma James and their children, along with their friend and colleague Doug Cullen, to spend the week-end with her parents at their country estate in the Cotswolds. As an added treat, the Talbots will be hosting a charity luncheon catered by local pub owner and former London chef Viv Holland. The week-end has barely begun, though, before tragedy strikes, and the detectives realize their break A feast, yes; bitter, not at all! Detective sergeant Melody Talbot has invited Duncan Kincaid, his wife Gemma James and their children, along with their friend and colleague Doug Cullen, to spend the week-end with her parents at their country estate in the Cotswolds. As an added treat, the Talbots will be hosting a charity luncheon catered by local pub owner and former London chef Viv Holland. The week-end has barely begun, though, before tragedy strikes, and the detectives realize their break from investigations is just not going to happen. There are three elements to Deborah Crombie’s writing that make readers return again and again to this series. First, there is the essential element of the mystery, always an interesting situation. In A Bitter Feast it begins with a fatal auto accident that really was an accident but was related to a murder. Naturally, everyone has personal secrets, and blind alleys abound, but eventually, after further mayhem, of course, the murderer is revealed. Although she is American, Crombie’s books are also loved for their vivid English setting. Perhaps, being a foreigner, she sees the countryside in ways that a native would not, but each time I read one of her books I start wondering if the wonderful English travel agent who planned my only trip to the British isles is still in business! Most of the books center on some particular neighborhood in London, but A Bitter Feast takes us to the Cotswolds, which I must now add to my itinerary when I track down that travel agent…. But I have saved the best for last. Hands down, Crombie fans return again and again for the series characters. These are fully developed people, and this aspect was especially prominent in this book. Since I had heard of Melody Talbot’s wealthy family numerous times in previous books, it was a special pleasure to meet them. Even more enjoyable was to get to know Duncan and Gemma’s children better and to see how their personalities are developing. The setting of the country week-end was nicely suited for that. A little exchange between Duncan and his 15-year-old son Kit, who played a significant role at the denouement, shows the warmth of the characterizations nicely: “Ginger beer for you, kiddo”, said Ibby…”Give him a sip[of the whiskey]”, said Kincaid. “He deserves it. And he should learn to recognize good whiskey so he won’t be tempted to drink the bad stuff.” Kit had taken one little taste, blinked watery eyes, and made a face. “I think I’ll pass on that, thanks, “ he said, coughing, but he looked pleased to be the hero of the hour. WARNING: Because the development of the characters and their relationships is so central part to this series, I do NOT recommend reading this book BEFORE you read the earlier volumes. You will miss a lot in this book and also not enjoy the earlier books as much when you read those later. In addition to these three elements common to the series, there are two other notable features in A Bitter Feast. The luncheon at the Talbots’ and the many scenes at Viv’s pub give ample opportunity for yummy descriptions of food that remind me that British cuisine does not deserve its bad reputation. In addition, there is a dog, a young border collie named Bella whose owner is killed in the accident at the beginning of the book. A minor but heart-warming subplot concerns what will happen to Bella now that her beloved human is gone. None of the above elements will work, though, without good writing. There is plenty of it, like Kincaid’s reaction upon entering the home of a suspect, “The cottage, which had been gutted and renovated as open plan, was a study in expensive neutrals unbroken by color---rather, Kincaid thought, like its owner.” Crombie fans who were less than enthralled by the last several books that had unsolved mysteries carried over in what some felt were cliffhangers will be glad to know that the series is back on track with all loose ends tied, even if Duncan and Gemma had to leave London to do it! But don’t worry; more murders do happen, and when they do, Duncan and the gang will be there to ensure that justice prevails.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Smitten

    4.5 Stars - Top Pick Scotland Yard detectives Duncan Kincaid, Gemma James, and their children are spending a weekend in the Cotswolds, courtesy of Gemma’s friend Detective Sergeant Melody Talbot. Gemma and Duncan are two of the few people who know about Melody’s wealthy background so Melody feels comfortable inviting them to her family home. Gemma and Duncan are both looking forward to attending the charity luncheon Melody’s mother will be holding during their stay. However, Gemma and Duncan’s 4.5 Stars - Top Pick Scotland Yard detectives Duncan Kincaid, Gemma James, and their children are spending a weekend in the Cotswolds, courtesy of Gemma’s friend Detective Sergeant Melody Talbot. Gemma and Duncan are two of the few people who know about Melody’s wealthy background so Melody feels comfortable inviting them to her family home. Gemma and Duncan are both looking forward to attending the charity luncheon Melody’s mother will be holding during their stay. However, Gemma and Duncan’s relaxing weekend turns into a working holiday when someone close to the local chef catering the luncheon is murdered. A Bitter Feast is part of a long-running series, but works well as a standalone mystery for those unfamiliar with the author. This book, like the others in the series, are well-written with intricate plots and characters you care about. Gemma and Duncan are likable individually and as a couple. It’s strange to see them investigating but not in charge of the case in this book. Gemma is used to the city streets of London and it’s interesting to see her working on case in an unfamiliar environment. The descriptions of the setting made me wish I could spend a long weekend in the Cotswolds! Another difference in this book is that because of events occurring at the beginning of the book, Duncan is put in a vulnerable situation which is unusual for him. In addition to the main characters I already liked, I enjoyed getting to know more about Melody’s family and seeing her seem to be coming to terms with her family’s wealth. There were a few too many complications in Melody’s love life, but that didn’t take away from my enjoyment of the book as a whole. On the other hand, it is great seeing Duncan and Gemma’s fifteen-year-old son playing such a large role in the story. He has grown up and matured since the earlier books in the series and it is nice seeing him with individual personality and really contributing to the story. The search for the murderer kept me guessing throughout the book. There are some red herrings to keep the reader guessing since there are a few characters hiding secrets that make them suspicious, but their wrongs fall short of murder. I thought I had figured out part of the solution to central crime, but learned I was way off on the motive and the killer’s identity. Reading a Deborah Crombie novel is like spending time with old friends. Great characters, an interesting plot, and excellent writing combine for an enjoyable, intriguing novel. This well-crafted mystery is perfect for fans of Peter Robinson or Cynthia Harrod-Eagles. ~ Christine

  26. 4 out of 5

    Melliott

    This was a somewhat subdued book in the series. That's not to say it wasn't thoroughly enjoyable, but it was a bit different in that Duncan and Gemma weren't the principal cops on the case. You just knew, when the book opened with the prospect of an idyllic weekend away in the Cotswalds for the entire Kincaid/James clan that it was too good to be true, and sure enough, a car accident puts Kincaid out of the picture before he can even arrive at the estate of Melody Talbot's wealthy and This was a somewhat subdued book in the series. That's not to say it wasn't thoroughly enjoyable, but it was a bit different in that Duncan and Gemma weren't the principal cops on the case. You just knew, when the book opened with the prospect of an idyllic weekend away in the Cotswalds for the entire Kincaid/James clan that it was too good to be true, and sure enough, a car accident puts Kincaid out of the picture before he can even arrive at the estate of Melody Talbot's wealthy and influential parents. When the investigation of the two people in the car that hit him turns up a finding of suspicious death, Gemma and Duncan both become involved in the solution of this and another, later crime; but because it's not their turf, the lead is taken by a local inspector, and they are demoted to the role of helpers. Additionally, because of Duncan's injuries he's not his usual competent and capable self, distinctly shaken by the accident and its aftermath. The mystery is a good one; I enjoyed the past-and-present details of the life of Chef Viv Holland, including all the delectable descriptions of the Michelin-level cooking she was producing, the cast of characters inhabiting her restaurants (Ibby, Bea, and the charismatic but volatile Irishman, Fergus O'Reilly), and the complications of her personal life. Likewise, the disclosures about Melody Talbot's parents, Ivan and Lady Addie, the picturing of their beautiful home with its Gertrude Jekyll-inspired gardens, and the sleepy autumn setting of the golden Cotswalds is compelling and lends additional charm. I will echo another reader here and say that the book became particularly busy, with too much back-and-forth trading off of cars, duties, and childcare, because of the presence of the entire family. Although son Kit plays a somewhat pivotal role in this book, the constant need for Gemma or Duncan to find someone to watch Toby and Charlotte so they could go off and solve crimes added a lot of unnecessary detail, as did all the descriptions of places and activities pursued specifically to entertain the children. The story might have been less cluttered if the kids had all gone to the grandparents for the weekend, leaving Gemma and Duncan unfettered to enjoy their holiday and pursue their sleuthing. Of course, life is messy and cluttered and busy, so perhaps I am just reacting from the perspective of a single person without too much patience for this kind of thing! Although this is not my favorite of Crombie's series, it certainly stands up as a worthy participant, and is well worth the time. I just wish she were a faster writer; it's a long time between books, and I miss Duncan and Gemma while they're gone!

  27. 5 out of 5

    Jen

    Like many others, I always look forward a new Duncan Kincaid and Gemma James adventure by Deborah Crombie. Spending time with familiar characters and expecting a well-plotted mystery is pretty much a guarantee with each new book in this well-established series. A weekend in the Cotswolds with DS Melody Talbot's wealthy and influential sounds like a pleasant respite for the Kincaide/James family. Of course, you know that isn't going to happen. A deadly car crash and some unexplained deaths keep Like many others, I always look forward a new Duncan Kincaid and Gemma James adventure by Deborah Crombie. Spending time with familiar characters and expecting a well-plotted mystery is pretty much a guarantee with each new book in this well-established series. A weekend in the Cotswolds with DS Melody Talbot's wealthy and influential sounds like a pleasant respite for the Kincaide/James family. Of course, you know that isn't going to happen. A deadly car crash and some unexplained deaths keep the ball rolling in this latest addition. Chef Viv Holland's opportunity to cater a luncheon for food bloggers and critics would allow her to display her talents and enhance her reputation, and Viv personally likes Melody Talbot's mother, who is hosting the luncheon. However, Viv is also struggling with an unpleasant visit from her past and an unhappy eleven-year-old daughter. Additionally, the deaths of two people in the car accident, followed by more mysterious deaths have connections to Viv's pub. As the connections to both the Talbot's home and Viv's pub continue to occur, Duncan and Gemma join with the local constabulary to find the guilty party and prevent more deaths. I'm almost tempted to start with the first book and read the entire series again because the characters are so engaging. Not just Duncan and Gemma, but their children, friends, and minor characters. In fact, I'd love to see some of the minor characters again. This is one of my favorite series not just for the characters, but also for the police procedural aspects. Read in May. Blog review scheduled for Sept. 16, 2019. NetGalley/ Harper Collins Police Procedural. Oct. 8, 2018. Print length: 384 pages.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Deon Stonehouse

    Fans of Louise Penny, Martin Walker, and Donna Leon will find much to enjoy in Deborah Crombie’s fine series featuring Detective Inspector Gemma James and Scotland Yard Detective Superintendent Duncan Kincaid. A nice juicy mystery is always enhanced in this series by the caring of this couple for their family. Detective Sergeant Melody Talbot has hesitated to invite her fellow detectives into her personal life, fearful they would regard her differently if they realized her family’s wealth and Fans of Louise Penny, Martin Walker, and Donna Leon will find much to enjoy in Deborah Crombie’s fine series featuring Detective Inspector Gemma James and Scotland Yard Detective Superintendent Duncan Kincaid. A nice juicy mystery is always enhanced in this series by the caring of this couple for their family. Detective Sergeant Melody Talbot has hesitated to invite her fellow detectives into her personal life, fearful they would regard her differently if they realized her family’s wealth and social standing. Her mother, Lady Adelaide, is putting on a charity luncheon in their Cotswold home to be catered by Viv Holland, the talented chef at the local pub. Melody puts aside her reticence and invites her boss, Gemma, along with her family to spend the weekend. Gemma, her four-year-old daughter Charlotte, and Melody drive down together arriving first to be greeted by their hosts and two enthusiastic dogs. Duncan was following closely behind, then the boys, Toby and Kit, would come the next day with family friend Doug Cullen. But Duncan doesn’t arrive as expected. He shows up hours late, explaining he was involved in a car accident, both occupants of the other vehicle perish. From there things get complicated. There is something dodgy about one of the bodies in the other car. Soon after another death occurs. Duncan and Gemma pitch in to help the local detective solve the murders. Great rural setting, an adorable Border Collie, and likeable characters. Gemma and Duncan’s son Kit is thrilled to help Viv in the kitchen, assisting a real chef fuels his interest in cooking, cool kid. This is one of those series where you look forward to every entry because the characters come to feel like good friends.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Wrenn

    Scotland Yard DS Duncan Kincaid, his wife DI Gemma James and their children Kit, Toby and Charlotte are off to unwind for the weekend at Beck House in the Cotswolds, the delightful country property of DS Melody Talbot's parents, along with friend DS Doug Cullen. Sir Ivan and Lady Adelaide Talbot are hosting a fancy charity lunch, featuring Viv Holland, chef and partner at The Lamb, a community pub. Duncan is driving, on his way to meet everyone there, when he is involved in a fatal car crash. Scotland Yard DS Duncan Kincaid, his wife DI Gemma James and their children Kit, Toby and Charlotte are off to unwind for the weekend at Beck House in the Cotswolds, the delightful country property of DS Melody Talbot's parents, along with friend DS Doug Cullen. Sir Ivan and Lady Adelaide Talbot are hosting a fancy charity lunch, featuring Viv Holland, chef and partner at The Lamb, a community pub. Duncan is driving, on his way to meet everyone there, when he is involved in a fatal car crash. Deeply shaken, with a concussion, badly bruised ribs and an injured hand, he is the only survivor. In the other car were resident Nelle Greene and chef Fergus O'Reilly, Viv's former boss. When the crash investigation uncovers the fact that O'Reilly was dead before the accident, by poisoning, Duncan helps out the local force inquiry. When a hit and run occurs and the victim also has connections with Viv, they must delve deeper into the personal and professional ties of the suspects in the chefs life. British cosy/mystery/police procedural with vivid, richly written believable characters. It feels like being with family again, reading about their engaging adventures and intriguing mysteries. Excellent as a stand alone, but you'd be missing out on a great series not reading it from the beginning! Another of my favorite series, I'm so sad that I have to wait another year or two for the next one to come out!

  30. 5 out of 5

    Larraine

    I always enjoy a Duncan/Gemma mystery by Deborah Crombie, and this one was no exception. This is the 2019 entry in the series. Gemma and Duncan have been invited to spend a few days at Melody Talbot's parents' home in the Cotswolds. Her mother, Lady Addie, is sponsoring a special luncheon for charity by the chef at a local pub. Viv has made a reputation for herself as offering far more than the usual pub fare and has a loyal following of locals as well as tourists to the area. If you know I always enjoy a Duncan/Gemma mystery by Deborah Crombie, and this one was no exception. This is the 2019 entry in the series. Gemma and Duncan have been invited to spend a few days at Melody Talbot's parents' home in the Cotswolds. Her mother, Lady Addie, is sponsoring a special luncheon for charity by the chef at a local pub. Viv has made a reputation for herself as offering far more than the usual pub fare and has a loyal following of locals as well as tourists to the area. If you know anything about England, you know that the Cotswolds are just chock full of lovely cottages overflowing with rose gardens and money: lots of money. Melody Talbot is Gemma's sgt who has kept her personal life and working life separate as much as possible. However, she couldn't avoid telling Gemma that her father is Ivan Talbot, publisher of a newspaper owned by her mother, who has made a reputation. However, in this book we see the softer side of Melody's parents. Gemma and Charlotte are traveling on their own. Duncan has plans to join them the following day. Kit and Toby, their sons, are traveling with Doug, a coworker and friend of Melody's. Duncan is hit by a car that doesn't stop at the intersection. His car is in ruins and he is hurt but not as bad as the driver, Nell, a local woman, who recently retired and took over a cottage that was left to her. The book opens with her having a solitary meal in the pub and noticing a rakishly handsome man who seems to know the chef. He winds up in her car but is dead before impact. She dies shortly thereafter. Duncan is affected both physically and emotionally and is soon drawn into the investigation. It turns out that the man in the car was in the pub and seems to know the chef. He is a celebrity chef whose addiction to drugs has caused him to lose his restaurant and friendships. This was, as always, a fun book to read. We see the family life of Gemma and Duncan as well as the lives of the other police officers. Plus, there are more than a few red herrings before the mystery is solved.

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