Review

Careless in Red

by Elizabeth George

Detective Superintendent Thomas Lynley had turned in his badge
and vanished, not only from London but from the pages of Elizabeth
George’s bestselling novels, following the senseless murder
of his wife and unborn child. His fans will greet him with open
arms as he returns in CARELESS IN RED. He, however, has no
intention of going back to Scotland Yard, nor does he ever wish to
carry the badge or solve another crime after the realities of his
profession moved too close to home.


This is not to be. On the 43rd day of his aimless meander along the
windswept Cornish coast, Lynley comes across the body of a young
man, apparently killed in a surfing accident. Old instincts kick
in, and he reports the incident to the local police, who rightfully
suspect that it is no accident and in fact is a vicious murder. The
local chief detective, Bea Hannagan, is a tough and thorough female
officer who tags Lynley as a likely suspect given his lack of
identification and apparent vagrancy.


Despite his attempts to hide who he is, Lynley is recognized by
other officers due to the publicity surrounding his personal
tragedy, and he reluctantly admits his prior association with
Scotland Yard. When his description to London checks out, his
friends and colleagues who were not sure he was still alive are
relieved to discover his whereabouts. His old sidekick, Barbara
Havers, is dispatched to work the case, or more truthfully, to
check on how her former boss is doing.


Elizabeth George, one of the ablest literary mystery novelists on
either side of the Atlantic (she’s an American who writes
splendidly about British protagonists), is back with another
thrilling adventure featuring two of mystery fiction’s
favorite characters --- the dapper Superintendent Lynley and frumpy
assistant Havers.


As in all of George’s novels, CARELESS IN RED is far more
than a whodunit. She introduces us to the world of surfing, rock
climbing and a cast of crusty characters who cling to the rocky
coast of Cornwall with the tenacity of barnacles. Ben and his
unstable wife Dellen Herne, their daughter Kerra and son Santo are
restoring an old Victorian estate as a vacation destination for
surfers, rock climbers and hikers. It is Santo’s body that
Lynley has found, and his death rips open the tattered fabric of
their family and everyone with whom Santo came into contact.


Dairdre Trahair, a Bristol veterinarian who owns the vacation
cottage on the cove where Santo’s body is found, will find
that her secretive past can no longer remain hidden as she becomes
a prime suspect in the case. The Italian divorcee who tends the
fruit orchard and manufactures exotic jams and jellies, the former
champion surfer who still crafts surfboards from scratch and is
trying to entice his eccentric son into the family business, his
daughter Madelyn, Santo’s jilted girlfriend --- all have
reasons of their own for not grieving Santo’s death, but are
they capable of murder? Are the sins of the fathers being visited
on their sons?


It falls on Lynley and Havers to assist the local police --- who
have fascinating lives of their own, all explored in this
magnificently plotted novel --- to ferret out the killer. CARELESS
IN RED builds to a literal cliffhanger of a climax.


   













Reviewed by Roz Shea on December 26, 2010

Careless in Red
by Elizabeth George

  • Publication Date: May 1, 2008
  • Genres: Fiction, Mystery
  • Hardcover: 640 pages
  • Publisher: Harper
  • ISBN-10: 0061160873
  • ISBN-13: 9780061160875