A Bitter Feast – Murder Intrudes on a Vacation in the Cotswolds

Scotland Yard Detective Superintendent Duncan Kincaid and his wife, Detective Inspector Gemma James, are looking forward to a relaxing weekend in the Cotswolds. But murder never takes a holiday, and before they can begin to enjoy a respite from police work, events pull them into a series of deaths. Bestselling author Deborah Crombie continues her popular series with A Bitter Feast. Her fans won’t be disappointed. 

Melody Talbot, Gemma’s detective sergeant, is from a wealthy family, something she has only revealed to a few close friends, including Duncan and Gemma. Melody’s mother, Lady Adelaide, owns London’s newspaper, the Chronicle, and Melody’s father, Sir Ivan, is the managing editor. The Talbot home in the Cotswolds, dubbed Beck House, is every bit as glorious as Gemma had imagined. Besides the grand mansion, the gardens, have been lovingly restored to their Edwardian glory. A perfect setting for Adelaide’s charity luncheon with the food prepared by a talented local chef, Viv Holland.

While Viv’s pub has a dedicated staff and a loyal following, little is known about her past. The night before the charity luncheon, Fergus O’Reilly, a celebrity chef that Viv had once worked for, confronts her with an ultimatum. Later that evening, Fergus is found dead after a car accident that kills the driver, Nell Greene, and seriously injures Kincaid, who was on his way to join his family at Beck House. An investigation finds that Fergus didn’t die in the crash but from an overdose of digoxin. When another death, a hit and run, is ruled a homicide, the local constabulary has its hands full.

With an injured right hand and a concussion, Kincaid can offer only limited support to the police. In between watching her two younger children, Toby, seven, and Charlotte, four, Gemma gathers what intelligence she can, talking to the pub’s staff and those who work at Beck House. Older son, Kit, 15, pitches in to help, not only in the kitchen, but befriending Viv’s daughter, Grace, 11, who seems to be at war with her mother. As the small village begins to reveal its secrets, the list of possible suspects begins to grow. Crombie is a master at creating a complex and appealing cast of characters, as well as describing the English village that is as dangerous as it is beautiful.

A Bitter Feast
Deborah Crombie

Top photo of the Cotswolds, Bigstock

About Charlene Giannetti (407 Articles)
Charlene Giannetti, editor of Woman Around Town, is the recipient of seven awards from the New York Press Club for articles that have appeared on the website. A graduate of Syracuse University’s S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications, Charlene began her career working for a newspaper in Pennsylvania, then wrote for several publications in Washington covering environment and energy policy. In New York, she was an editor at Business Week magazine and her articles have appeared in many newspapers and magazines. She is the author of 13 non-fiction books, eight for parents of young adolescents written with Margaret Sagarese, including "The Roller-Coaster Years," "Cliques," and "Boy Crazy." She and Margaret have been keynote speakers at many events and have appeared on the Today Show, CBS Morning, FOX News, CNN, MSNBC, NPR, and many others. Her last book, "The Plantations of Virginia," written with Jai Williams, was published by Globe Pequot Press in February, 2017. Her podcast, WAT-CAST, interviewing men and women making news, is available on Soundcloud and on iTunes. She is one of the producers for the film "Life After You," focusing on the opioid/heroin crisis that completed filming on February 1, 2020. Charlene divides her time between homes in Manhattan and Alexandria, Virginia.