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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February 7, 2012

Believing the Lie

I expected to wait weeks, if not longer, for the new Inspector Lynley novel at the library, so it was a very pleasant surprise to get it almost as soon as it was published.  In Believing the Lie, the Assistant Chief Constable sends Tommy {I like to call him that, the way Simon and Deborah do, and Helen did}, secretly, to the Lake District to look into the death of Ian Cresswell, a local businessman who drowns after slipping on a crumbling stone dock, hitting his head and falling into the water.  The coroner has ruled it an accident, but Ian's uncle and employer, Bernard Fairclough, wants to be sure that his son Nicholas, a recovering addict with a troubling past, wasn't responsible for his cousin's death.

Or so we think. One of the things that Elizabeth George does so well in her mysteries is to dig deeply not only into her recurring characters but also into the characters involved in the current case. In this book, there's an extended family of sons, daughters, sons-and-daughters in law, gay partners, cousins, ex-wives, ex-husbands and children who all have secrets or reasons to blackmail each other.  There's also a seven-foot-tall, red-headed tabloid journalist who's hoping against hope that he'll finally find a story worthy of page one. This is all on top of what we're really here for, which is to check in on Tommy (still grieving for his murdered wife, but now sleeping with his superior at the Met), Simon and Deborah (still hoping to find a way to have children), and Barbara Havers (having her teeth fixed and her hair cut at the insistence of her new boss, the one sleeping with Lynley).

It may be because of all these intersecting storylines that the book is so long (about 600 pages), and sometimes a bit of a slog.  And some of what's revealed in the Fairclough family (for Alatea and Tim, especially) was a little over the top.  I'm so fond of this series and these characters that I hate to even think that the books won't be as good as they used to be.  This wasn't one of the best, but it was still enjoyable place to spend six or seven nights in, and maybe the next will be better.


Lisa May said...

I'm still grieving over the loss of Helen as well! she was my favorite character, and even though I knew it was coming, it was still a shock. But at least there is still Havers!

FleurFisher said...

I disliked the last book in this series - I didn't like the portrayal of Cornwall or the parallels with a real life recent crime - but I'm pleased to hear a positive report about this one. I've loved many of Elizabeth George's books and I didn't want to give up on her.

ndunn said...

I thought the ending was disappointing. Not sure about Havers cutting her hair...

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