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Monday, November 24, 2008

A Great Deliverance by Elizabeth George


This was one of the books that I finished this weekend. It's the first of Elizabeth George's series of Inspector Lynley mysteries. I got to know Inspector Lynley and his sidekick, Barbara Havers, from the PBS Masterpiece Theatre Mystery series. It peaked my interest so I looked up the first of her books and read it this weekend. Lynley is much like the Masterpiece series except he is blonde and not the black hair of Nathaniel Parker. Otherwise, Parker makes a great Lynley. Havers is described as "stubby, sturdy" and Sharon Small is not dumpy. Small makes a good working-class assistant but she's physically not the Havers of the book.

At the beginning of the book, Havers is unable to work with anyone in CID (Criminal Investigation Division) and has been put on patrol duty in uniform. But they decide to try her with Inspector Lynley on this case. She believes Lynley to be a high class, rich boy snob who sleeps with any female he can get his hands on. She hates him for this. I don't know where she got the idea but she thinks she knows him and despises him so she is not happy when they put her with him. She calls him a "sodding little fop". But she is determined to make it work so she can be back in CID. She really misjudges him but slowly finds this out by the end of the book. Meanwhile we meet her in her home. Her parents are elderly and not all there, if you know what I mean. A brick shy of a load. They dream of traveling and pretend they have been to all the places in their scrapbook albums although they are merely travel brochure pictures. It seems to go back to the death of their son, Tony. He died of Leukemia and there is a veritable shrine in their living room. A life size picture of Tony and framed school reports and drawings he made.

George has a way of taking "The grass is green" and make it sound sinister or grubby or wonderful or disgusting, etc. I.e. she just has a way with words! So she makes poor Havers' life a living hell by describing her home, her parents, her chicken and rice meal, etc.

On the other hand, George makes Lynley's life, his home, his dinner, etc sound so sophisticated and wonderful. Havers watches from afar and is so jealous that she can't stand him. And it hurts her to think the higher-ups think it's safe for Lynley to be working with her...she's too ugly for him to be tempted to sleep with. This hurts her feelings and makes her all the more bitter. Thankfully, by the end of the book, things get much more resolved.

Lynley has been in love with Deborah and was her lover. But she is marrying his friend from college days. A friend that he was driving drunk with one night and there was an accident that caused his friend, Andrew St. James, to be crippled for life. Lynley has always felt guilty about the accident and now Deborah is marrying St. James. It's very hard for him to give up his dreams of Deborah to his best friend. Lynley is at the wedding when Havers has to fetch him to meet about the new case.

William Teys is found decapitated in his barn lying over his dead dog (throat cut). His youngest adult daughter is sitting over the body holding the ax and saying that she did it. Everyone in the village can't believe she would kill her father or her dog. But she is catatonic and can't speak.

Lynley and Havers find out that Teys had been married before and had an older daughter that disappeared. They find out that his wife is not dead but had just run away and never even bothered to get a divorce. This is a shock to her new family. Then they find Gillian, the older daughter, who is living under an assumed name and married with a husband who has no idea. She has a nervous breakdown too. What happened in this family? Who killed Teys? What was going on in this quiet corner of Yorkshire, in this small village, with the villagers and the spooky Keldale Abby?

It's a good read but I have to say, it shows the worst of humankind and I would not recommend it to a younger generation.

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