When a faithful reader picks up an Elizabeth George novel featuring New Scotland Yard Detective Inspector Thomas Lynley, it is opened with a mixture of anticipation and a certainty that dinner will go unprepared, bedtime will come and go, and others who depend on you might just as well get on with their lives until you’re finished.
George’s voluminous suspense novels are inhabited with a fascinating cast of characters who are brought to life on the page, fully fleshed out with all the complexities, foibles and aspirations of real life. Often many in number, they are essential to the plot, never dropped in and then discarded like yesterday’s red herring. George’s mastery of impeccable pacing and plot development mercilessly launches you into the latest episode (in this case #17) in DI Lynley’s life.
"Although Elizabeth George is an American author who lives and writes in Washington State, she breathes pure Anglican fire and dialogue, not to mention geographic authenticity into her award-winning novels."
Sir Thomas Lynley, one of the most appealing and fully-realized characters in modern suspense fiction, continues to evolve as he struggles with the loss of his wife in a random shooting eight months earlier. The young widower is now recklessly involved with his superior, the beautiful acting homicide director Isabelle Ardrey, in a clandestine liaison that is as surely doomed as it is intense. He is summoned by the Chief of New Scotland Yard to go undercover to investigate an apparent suicide of the nephew of a close friend of the chief’s in Cumbria, the damp and remote Lake District near the Scottish border. He leaves with a mixed sense of relief and dread, taking along his long-time friend, forensic scientist Peter Simon, and wife Deborah to aide in his investigation. He must keep his mission secret, even from Isabelle, his lover and immediate superior.
As he delves into the private matters of Bernard Fairclough and his family, he uncovers the tangled web of deception and lies that now ensnares them all. A reporter for a sensational London tabloid is hot on the trail of a big story about Nicholas Fairclough, a former drug addict and Bernard’s prodigal son, who has straightened out his life after marrying a dazzlingly beautiful Argentinian woman with a past. Nicholas has returned to Cumbria and is working in his father’s factory to learn the business from the ground up. Like the quick sands that lurk in the Cumbrian tidal basins, one by one each of the family members is in danger of having their lives drawn into the muck of public disclosure.
Lynley reluctantly calls upon Detective Sergeant Barbara Havers, his diligent and disheveled assistant, whose loyalty to her boss often supersedes her best personal interests. She must stealthily conduct research in the Scotland Yard library without raising suspicions of Lynley’s boss, who is constantly looking for reasons to fire Havers for insubordination. Havers uncovers damaging information about Nicholas’s bride, while Lynley’s investigation begins to bare deeply buried secrets of Nicholas’s father. The questioned suicide of Nicholas’s cousin, who has been chief of operations in Bernard’s company and is in line to take over the business, points to the wastrel Nicholas, the legal heir to his father’s business and fortune, as having motive and opportunity to see him dead.
Havers, one of the strong and appealing standing cast of characters in this series, is carrying around more than a few secrets of her own, which bring an important situation in her life to a jarring climax.
Although Elizabeth George is an American author who lives and writes in Washington State, she breathes pure Anglican fire and dialogue, not to mention geographic authenticity into her award-winning novels. BELIEVING THE LIE opens a new chapter in Thomas Lynley’s life, as well as in Barbara Havers’s. This promises us that there is much more in store for these two popular Scotland Yard detectives.
Reviewed by Roz Shea on February 2, 2012