Click here to read reviewer Shannon I. Bigham's take on Now May You Weep.
When her friend, Hazel, invites Gemma James on a short holiday, she doesn’t hesitate to say yes. Even though she is not interested in culinary pursuits, she welcomes the cookery weekend at a bed-and-breakfast in the Scottish Highlands. Perhaps four days in a beautiful country setting will refresh her.
Despite all the positive things that have happened recently – her promotion to detective inspector with the Metropolitan Police, and her sharing a home in Notting Hill with her former partner and current lover, Superintendent Duncan Kincaid – a heavy blanket of sadness has weighed on her most of the winter. She knows the sadness is due to losing a baby the previous fall:
“The fact that the pregnancy was unplanned and had been difficult for Gemma to accept had made the loss of the child even more devastating; nor had she recovered physically as quickly as she might have hoped. But with spring had come a lifting of her spirits and a renewal of energy, and if she still woke in the night with an aching sadness, she didn’t speak of it.”
The issues not spoken of are what complicate this simple weekend.
Gemma doesn’t know that Hazel is taking the opportunity for a liaison with a former lover, Donald Brodie. He owns Benvulin, one of the oldest and the most successful distilleries in the area -- and one time, long ago, he wanted to marry Hazel. Hazel doesn’t know of the secret between the Brodie family and her ancestors who owed Cornmore Distillery. When Donald Brodie is found shot to death in a field near the bed-and-breakfast, those secrets and more, slowly come to light.
Now May You Weep is a wonderful book with two parallel stories of mystery and intrigue, one in the present and one in the late 1800s. In the hands of an author of lesser skill, the technique of changing time periods can get tedious, but Deborah Crombie has crafted them well with smooth transitions.
As those stories unfold, suspicion is cast on a number of people, but Hazel becomes the prime suspect. Still whirling from the revelation about the romance between Brodie and Hazel, Gemma doesn’t know if she can believe her friend when she denies having anything to do with the murder. Determined to clear her friend from suspicion, Gemma offers to help the local inspector with the investigation, but he doesn’t treat her with even a shred of professional courtesy.
Crombie, who has been nominated for most of the major awards in mystery writing, works with a deft hand, keeping a nice balance between the main plotlines and subplots. This is the ninth book in a series featuring Gemma James and Duncan Kincaid, and the development of their relationship is so natural, it often reads like reality and not fiction. Long-time fans will enjoy this latest offering, and first-time readers will meet characters that are well drawn and captivating.
The setting is equally captivating, with vivid descriptions that make the Highlands come to life and prompts an urge to book the next flight to Scotland.