Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Book Review - "This Body of Death" by Elizabeth George

Inspector Lynley is back in this latest installment by Elizabeth George. The question is, is he back for good? The department is still without a superintendent, so Isabelle Ardery has been brought in as a possible candidate. Immediately she has to deal with a murder case. Recognizing that she could use someone to show her the ropes and help her establish trust among her subordinates, she pays a visit to DI Lynley, who agrees to come back to work.

A woman has been stabbed to death in a London cemetery. Who is she, and why would someone want to kill her? What's the connection to the New Forest in Hampshire, where Gordon Jossie is a thatcher and where ponies roam free on the common land? And how does the other story fit in, the one interspersed with the present-day action and typed up as if from a psychologist's report?

DS Barbara Havers and DS Winston Nkata are on the case in Hampshire while Lynley works with Isabelle in London. Barbara comes across potentially valuable information but can't follow up because Ardery has called them back. It's only one mistake Ardery makes. In fact, she mishandles the investigation in myriad ways, putting her career in jeopardy. She desperately wants the job and Lynley recognizes that she was thrown into it feet first with this huge case, but she may have gone too far. Tensions run high in the incident room, and the wrong man gets accused of murder.

Fan favorites Simon St. James and his wife Deborah make appearances in this book, as do Barbara's neighbors Taymullah Azhar and his daughter Hadiyyah. It's these characters and their history with the principal players who really make Elizabeth George's mysteries come alive. Havers and Lynley seem like real people, with lives outside of work and friendships and histories that span decades. This Body of Death is one of George's best as she shows Lynley still dealing with wife Helen's death, and as she introduces Isabelle Ardery and her story, and as she lets the mystery and investigation unfold. New readers may be a little lost and might want to go back and read at least a couple of the first books in the series to get somewhat caught up with the background story, but readers who have followed Lynley and Havers from the beginning will not be disappointed. Definitely get your hands on this book if you like Elizabeth George.

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