To celebrate the release of this much awaited novel, I finally decided to forgive Ms. George for killing off Lynley\’s beloved wife, Helen, three books ago. And as usual, before I started reading I checked out the back of the book for the number of pages to see how many days my life would be on hold while I read This Body of Death.
It was a bit slow at first because several scenes had to be set for this complex and tightly-woven mystery. Beginning with a social worker\’s lengthy report (that is divvied up and delivered in chunks at different points in the story), we are familiarized with the brutal murder of a toddler and the three young boys involved in this. We are also introduced to several main characters and their backgrounds, as the lead up to the murder is plotted. Of course, the investigation makes up the majority of the rest of the novel.
Interwoven with this investigation are all the newsy bits about our old friends at New Scotland Yard. Lynley still has not returned to his old post as superintendant, instead Isabelle Ardery is appointed to this position on a temporary to lead the group in the enquiry into the cold-blooded the murder of Jemima Hastings. And Lynley is mostly professional in his relationship with the intriguing Isabelle as he assists the new superintendant in her precarious new position. Mistrust and doubts abound on the team with Ardery at the helm. Detective Sergeant Havers is up to her old tricks while trying her hand at fashion with support from her neighbour and his daughter. And she has some dramatic moments with Lynley, as the two try to deal with the intensive aftermath of Helen\’s death.
With the wonderful blend of detailed investigation (without being boring and procedural) and interesting relationships between the characters, regular ones and murder suspects alike, the mystery and suspense builds. The lighter addition of such characters as Yolanda the psychic, a golden retriever, and the lovely New Forest Ponies moved me to care more deeply about the outcomes. The 600+ pages it takes to get there certainly help with this bonding.
Within the scope of the story, Elizabeth George digs a little deeper to make real commentary about the broader social aspects of crime. In reference particularly to the case of the three boys in this novel, she talks about public accountability in a way that made me look at social disadvantage differently.
Elizabeth George is one of my absolute favourites and, in my view, has mastered the modern whodunit. Â Can\’t wait for the next one!
Available now: Hachette RRP$32.99