I just finished A Finer End, Deborah Crombie's seventh book, continuing the Duncan Kincaid/Gemma James series. It is set in a small village that has a long tradition of mystical experiences and other-worldly communications. One of the residents of the village just happens to be Duncan Kinkaid's cousin, which makes it convenient for Duncan and Gemma to be called in when the mystical happenings begin to take on some all-too-physical manifestations in the form of an attempted murder and a successful one.
I have a soft spot for mysticism and religion, so I enjoyed the main story line. But I can't help but feel that more than any of the first six, this book might not be everyone's cup of tea. From the early introduction of automatic writing (where the writer is completely unaware of what he is writing, just serving as a vessel through which a spirit can communicate) to ending up in more or less of a quest for the Holy Grail, there's a lot that is metaphysical. Which is not to say that there isn't also a basic mystery, with lots of characters to sort out and evaluate and care about. So there really is a lot there for the average mystery reader, too. And of course, Deborah Crombie's writing is as evocative and compelling as ever. I feel like I've really been to the location and met the characters in real life.
The story of the protagonists' personal lives continues to develop as well. Moving the focus away from the introduction of Kit, which has been the central point of the back story for several books, we find Gemma facing a big personal challenge in this outing. By the end she has made a decision and shared it with Duncan, but there's lots of angst in getting to that point. And lots of unanswered questions about where it will lead moving forward. (Which, as I've said before, is why I enjoy series like this one. I like the juxtaposition of a freestanding mystery in each book against the ongoing story of realistic, messy, three-dimensional character lives.)
I am still enjoying the exercise of re-reading this series, and am excited to see that a new one, To Dwell In Darkness, is being released in September. If I haven't made it through them all by then, I will probably have to take a break from this process to read it. I mean hey, I have to check in on my friends, you know?