Author Deborah Crombie may have been born in Texas, but it was during a post-university trip to England that her passion for writing novels really started to take off with her immediately starting work on her debut novel, A Share In Death, in 1993.
When the book was nominated for the Best First Novel by the Agatha and Macavity awards, it became clear that Crombie’s crime mystery novels were more than just one-offs as fans instantly began anticipating when she would write again, and they didn’t have to wait long.
Here are all of the Deborah Crombie books in the correct order so you can experience the Duncan Kincaid and Gemma James series for yourself.
About The Duncan Kincaid / Gemma James Mystery Series
Fans have called Deborah Crombie’s 19-book-long mystery series the Duncan Kincaid & Gemma James series, referring to the two main Scotland Yard detectives who all the books are centered around.
While each of the 19 books deals with a different case that must be solved, there are many characters that carry over from the very first novel, along with side characters who are introduced in future installments, which is why it is well worth reading the series in order so that you can get the full experience.
Deborah Crombie Books In Order
Superintendent Duncan Kincaid is enjoying a well-deserved vacation in a big and luxurious Yorkshire mansion when he suddenly stumbles upon a dead body floating in the whirlpool bath.
When calling on his partner Gemma to help him uncover how the body got there, a second murder occurs right after, making for a thrilling first installment in this epic mystery series.
- A Gripping first installment in the series.
- Plenty of background information to introduce Duncan and Gemma.
- Side characters get a lot of attention and make great first impressions.
- The outcome of the mystery becomes somewhat predictable.
Jasmine Dent has been living a miserable life ever since her body picked up a life-threatening disease, so when she suddenly dies in her sleep, no one thinks anything of it, except for her next-door neighbor Duncan Kincaid.
As Duncan and Gemma search through the woman’s troubled history, they start to learn that everything is not as it seems and that there may be someone else involved in the case.
- The mystery is very engaging from start to finish.
- Plenty of twists and turns throughout the story.
- The stakes feel very high.
- Much more of a realistic depiction of how detectives solve murder cases.
- Not much development for either Duncan or Gemma.
Many members of the wealthy and highly-respected Asherton family have died in very mysterious ways over the last few decades, and when the son-in-law of the head of the family is found floating lifeless in the River Thames, Duncan and Gemma must uncover the mysteries being kept by this family, even if a potential romance gets in the way of their investigation.
- The Asherton family are very mysterious and threatening antagonists.
- The romance subplot keeps the story exciting and unpredictable.
- The relationship between Duncan and Gemma is much more relevant.
- A lot more intimacy than some readers may like in a murder mystery novel.
Both Duncan and Gemma knew Commander Alastair Gilbert very well, but when it comes out that he had actually committed some heinous acts against the people of Surrey, the two must try to put their feelings aside and investigate his mysterious death for themselves, a death that everyone around them seems to celebrate.
- The mystery of Alastair Gilbert takes many turns and is very compelling.
- More emphasis on the personal beliefs of detectives.
- Surrey as a setting is very detailed with many different environments.
- Violence can be very graphic and unpleasant for some readers.
Duncan and Gemma are investigating the supposed suicide of local poet, Lydia Brooke, after getting a call from Victoria, who just so happens to be Duncan’s ex-wife.
Needless to say, the investigation becomes a little more personal and awkward, especially now that his partner, Gemma, is also his lover, making for a slightly more lighthearted plot compared to the previous books.
- The slightly more lighthearted approach is a nice change of pace for the series.
- More information is revealed about Duncan’s past.
- Mystery still remains captivating and suspenseful.
- Victoria is quite flat as a character.
- Fairly short in length.
Just as Duncan promises the weekend to his eleven-year-old son Kit, a new investigation demands the attention of Scotland Yard’s finest detectives, and little do they realize just how personal this case would be.
What starts as an investigation into the mysterious appearance of a dead body in an East London park becomes an enthralling story about self-discovery and trust as both Duncan and Gemma must go back into their own pasts to uncover who could be behind such a heinous crime.
- Even more development for both Duncan and Gemma’s relationship.
- More emphasis on detective equipment and gadgets.
- Many returning side characters.
- The mystery itself is a little weak and absent for portions of the story.
Things take a mystical turn for the worst in A Finer End when Duncan is contacted by his cousin Jack to investigate an unnerving ancient chronicle that lay within Glastonbury Abbey, the resting place of King Arthur.
When the chronicle reveals information that could be related to heinous criminal acts in the present, Duncan and Gemma must put the pieces of this mystery together, alongside figuring out how such an accurate premonition was made all those years ago.
- More fictional and supernatural elements are involved.
- Multiple subplots alongside the main mystery.
- A lot of information on the history of King Arthur and Glastonbury as an area.
- Gemma gets more time to shine in the investigation.
- The pacing is very slow for the first few chapters.
Gemma is struggling to adjust to her new promotion as an inspector, however, when the body of an antique dealer’s wife mysteriously shows up, Gemma and Duncan must bounce ideas and findings off each other by bringing two separate cases together, and solving the mystery once and for all.
- An interesting look at how detectives use multiple cases together.
- Gemma is the main protagonist this time.
- A more in-depth look into Gemma’s past.
- Only a small portion of London is used as the setting.
Hazel Cavendish is a very complicated man, being the head of a wealthy whiskey distilling family and infamous for having many affairs in his life, he’s a person Gemma knows nearly nothing about, despite calling him a friend.
However, his secluded life is threatened when he is accused of a sudden murder, and it’s up to Gemma and Duncan to unravel the mystery of the bloodshed and conclude whether the man really is as guilty as he seems.
- Many new and interesting side characters are introduced.
- Scottish Highlands is a lush and vibrant setting.
- Hazel Cavendish is an incredibly complex and multi-layered character.
- Duncan is absent for much of the story.
Duncan and Gemma may no longer be partners, but when a young woman vanishes near an abandoned Southwark warehouse, Scotland Yard is forced to send their best detectives to investigate, however when they discover that a child is also somehow involved in the case, Gemma wonders if this is the case that could be more than she can handle.
- A much grittier story than those in previous books.
- Interesting to see Duncan and Gemma working together again.
- Much more eerie and spine-chilling atmosphere.
- Short length for such an ambitious plot.
Duncan takes Gemma, Kit, and Toby to Cheshire for a relaxing getaway, but things take a turn for the worst when Duncan’s sister, Juliet, discovers the mummified body of an infant in the wall of an old dairy barn.
While Duncan and Gemma look to unravel this dark and haunting mystery, it forces Duncan to think back on his time as a child living in the town, and how it may not be as innocent as he once thought.
- Interesting flashbacks to Duncan’s childhood.
- Prominent themes of nostalgia and childhood innocence.
- Techniques and methods used to solve the crime are fresh and exciting.
- Too many subplots take away from the main mystery.
Deborah Crombie has been highly praised in Where Memories Lie for being able to show respect to a dark historical period without fictionalizing or exaggerating it for the sake of the story as our two detectives must look into a heinous crime that dates all the way back to The Holocaust.
Chilling, subtle, and a very memorable read, this is one crime that really pushes both Duncan and Gemma to their absolute limit.
- Honest and respectful reflection on the cruelty of The Holocaust.
- Several callbacks to previous cases and characters in the series.
- A serious tone is paired with moments of hope.
- The lack of side characters means the cast feels limited.
One by one, members of a family are disappearing without a trace.
First, it was the mother, Sadra Gilles, and soon after, it was her husband, Naz Malik, and it could be their three-year-old daughter who goes missing next.
Duncan and Gemma must reunite, along with their teammates Doug Cullen and Melody Talbot, to protect the final victim of the family from falling prey to a vicious killer.
- The nail-biting plot is a race against time.
- Plenty of development for side officers.
- Lots of fun banter and callbacks to Duncan and Gemma’s time as partners.
- The mystery is solved a little too early.
A fellow Met detective mysteriously drowns in the River Thames while taking a relaxing boat ride which leads our two detectives on a mission to uncover how it happened, and while it might sound like a straightforward task at first, the betrayals and twists within the story make this a case both Duncan and Gemma will never forget.
- The straightforward investigation becomes much bigger and more complex as the story goes on.
- One of the first times Gemma and Duncan start to doubt each other.
- Very satisfying and worthwhile ending.
- Weak sub-plots harm the overall pacing.
- A lot of filler to make the book longer.
This book actually changes the formula of the series slightly by switching the focus to James and Melody, two detectives investigating the murder of an esteemed barrister, and while Duncan and Gemma show up in some capacity, this book provides a nice change of pace with a new set of characters for most of the story.
- New duo protagonists provide a breath of fresh air.
- Fresh and exciting detective techniques and strategies.
- The inclusion of Duncan and Gemma feels appropriate without making them the focus.
- Details of the crime aren’t very well explained.
After a deadly bomb explosion goes off, harming several people in St. Pancras Station, the witnesses and locals all have very different stories over why it happened, with some saying it was part of a protest, and others saying it was a deliberate attack.
Duncan, Gemma, and their trusted colleague Melody Talbot must gather the facts and decide which witnesses they can trust in this story which puts major emphasis on the planning and background work that goes into being a detective.
- Multiple witness stories make the plot captivating and complex.
- Melody Talbot is a fantastic addition to the main cast.
- Much more emphasis on how detectives interact with suspicious individuals.
- Comedic segments can seem out of place.
When Duncan suspects that there is a traitor among the ranks in the police department, his suspicions are proven to be correct after several officers are picked off one by one, and while he and Gemma know they need to uncover who is behind the attacks, they begin questioning their trust for each of their teammates, and for each other.
- A mystery within the police force itself is a nice change of pace.
- Nearly every previous side character is relevant to the story.
- The police station setting can become bland after a while.
Now a married couple with a few kids in their family, Duncan and Gemma are invited to spend a relaxing weekend in the classy and pristine Beck House, and while it seems like they may have finally gotten away from their life of criminal investigations, a car accident rocks the estate and its inhabitants.
It soon becomes clear that this wasn’t an accident, but a purposeful attempt to get the driver killed, and while Duncan and Gemma look into the mystery, they struggle to do so now that they have their own family to take care of as responsible parents.
- Great for fans to see Duncan and Gemma as part of a family.
- Both protagonists must learn how to be both detectives and parents.
- The mystery takes several unexpected twists.
- Many unanswered questions by the end.
Sasha Johnson is not the typical knife crime victim.
She’s successful, career-driven, and has seemingly no affiliations with people who would want to kill her.
Nonetheless, the Metropolitan police know that the crime cannot go unanswered, and send partners Duncan and Gemma to investigate why someone would kill such a seemingly innocent woman as both detectives must confront their own past, and even their relationship, to discover what it all means, and how they could be involved in this wider scandal.
- The biggest test for Gemma and Duncan’s relationship.
- Different parts of London are explored throughout the story.
- Many new and exciting gadgets and devices are used in the investigation.
- The Revelation of the mystery is a little underwhelming.
- Not as much development for Gemma or Duncan as in the previous books.
So many people have fallen in love with Deborah Crombie’s books because of how fresh and captivating she manages to make each mystery, along with the continuous development of main protagonists Duncan and Gemma, and with 19 books currently available, there are plenty of fantastic stories to jump into.
Frequently Asked Questions
Has Deborah Crombie Written Any Standalone Books?
Aside from her Duncan and Gemma crime series, Deborah Crombie has contributed to writing two standalone novels, these being The Sunken Sailor released in 2004, and Echoes Of Sherlock Holmes released in 2016.