Wednesday, October 16, 2019

"A Bitter Feast"

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, two cats, and two German shepherds.

Crombie applied the Page 69 Test to A Bitter Feast, her 18th Duncan Kincaid/Gemma James novel, and reported the following:
What a fun challenge this is! I loved what I found on my page 69. Here’s what leads up to it.

On the way to join his family for a weekend in a Cotswold country house, Metropolitan Police Superintendent Duncan Kincaid has been involved in a tragic accident. But there were things about the deaths of the occupants of the other car that didn’t quite add up to him. This is the next day, and his host has taken him to the local police headquarters to make an official report. Kincaid and his concerns have been passed along to Detective Inspector Colin Booth, who at the outset is not thrilled to have his Saturday interrupted by a meddlesome London cop. Here’s page 69 in its entirety.
“I know what you mean.” Kincaid cocked his head, replaying what he’d heard. “You’re from Manchester.”

“My northern vowels give me away?”

“I grew up in Cheshire, in Nantwich.”

“Ah. Close enough.” Booth looked at him with more interest. “Man U or City?”


“Bugger.” Booth shook his head. “That’s too bad. I thought we might be long lost brothers.” There was a hint of a smile on his dark face. “Except you’re all citified now. How long have you been in the Met?”
“More than twenty years. But I have a good friend in Cheshire, Ronnie Babcock.”

Booth’s eyebrows went up. “DCI Babcock? Bloke looks like he’s had his face smashed in once too often?”
Kincaid grinned. “That’s the one.” He thought mentioning that Ronnie Babcock was his sister’s boyfriend might be gilding the lily.

“He’s one of the good ones, Babcock.” Booth considered Kincaid a moment, then said, “In which case maybe you should just bugger the report and tell me what happened.”

“A nice middle-aged divorcee, who was not drinking, plowed straight through a T-junction and hit me broadside,” Kincaid said. “My car rolled. The front end of hers was crushed. She was trapped. I held her hand as she died.” Why he was prompted to tell Booth this, when he hadn’t yet told Gemma, Kincaid didn’t know. He cleared his throat and went on. “The thing is, there was an unidentified passenger, a man, also dead. But the medics think he died before the crash.”
The beginning of the page is our first glimpse of what will become a good working relationship between the two police officers.

The last paragraph contains—to my delight—the core of the plot. Why did the woman driver have a dead man—with whom she had no apparent connection—in her car, and why did she crash into Duncan? But perhaps even more importantly, this paragraph shows the emotional vulnerability Duncan hasn’t even revealed to his wife, and the strong connection he’s made to the victim. It’s this that drives him to find the truth behind what might have seemed a random accident, and that leads all the detectives into a complex and dangerous investigation.
Visit Deborah Crombie's website.

My Book, The Movie: A Bitter Feast.

--Marshal Zeringue