The act of reading ... begins on a flat surface, counter or page, and then gets stirred and chopped and blended until what we make, in the end, is a dish, or story, all our own.
— Adam Gopnik

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October 31, 2013

Just One Evil Act

It's a little ironic, isn't it. that a book titled Just One Evil Act should be over 700 pages long? :)  Even though this is one of my favorite series, one  that I've been reading since the very beginning, I was a little dismayed when I picked it up at the library.  Does a mystery need to be that long?  And, at times, when I was reading, I  kind of wished it wasn't.  In the end, I didn't think this was one of the best Lynleys (it wasn't very suspenseful, and the ending just seemed contrived);  but I did find myself reading the last 75 pages in one sitting, wanting to know how everything would work out.

I had forgotten what happens at the very end of the last book, but it sets the stage for most of what happens in this one. This book focuses mostly on Havers, and how she tries to help her neighbor, Taymullah Azhar, when his lover, Angelina Upman suddenly leaves, taking their daughter Hadiyyah with her.  I never want to give away too much of what happens in a mystery, because I had a chance to follow the story as it unfolds, but the setting shifts to Tuscany, there's a kidnapping and a suspicious death, and Barbara is forced to step out of line even more than usual when she has no official way to protect her friends. Havers is such a wonderful character, and she becomes more interesting in this long story, as she struggles with a crime that she's not allowed to solve, a vindictive boss, and the deep pain of possibly losing her friends. {There's even an Italian detective who thinks she has a lovely smile and beautiful eyes.) The trade-off, though, is that Lynley loses a little of his luster and the other recurring characters (Winston Nkata, Deborah and Simon St. James) are literally just there for a page or two. I hope the next book will be a little more like the earlier ones, with all of them present, because this series is one I'll always look forward to.


Lisa said...

I really lost the heart to continue with this series after Helen was killed. She was my favorite character, much more than Lynley - I thought she was a much-needed brake on his stubbornness & sometimes arrogance. I do like Havers though, and watching her grow through the series, particularly in her friendship with the Azhars, has also been a big part of the series' appeal for me.

JoAnn said...

700 pages seems awfully long for a single book in a mystery series, especially with a title like that, lol!

Anonymous said...

It was the length of the books that made me give up on this series early in the book set in Cornwall, because it got so many things wrong. I could be tempted back, but it would take something special, or a book half the length.

Disappointing that the supporting characters seem to have been sidelined, because I remember thinking that they had more potential than the lead.

Melinda said...

700 pages is quite a lot! I only read books that long if it's a classic :(

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