A Great Deliverance (Inspector Lynley Series #1)

A Great Deliverance (Inspector Lynley Series #1)

by Elizabeth George


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To this day, the low, thin wail of an infant can be heard in Keldale's lush green valleys. Three hundred years ago, as legend goes, the frightened Yorkshire villagers smothered a crying babe in Keldale Abbey, where they'd hidden to escape the ravages of Cromwell's raiders.

Now into Keldale's pastoral web of old houses and older secrets comes Scotland Yard Inspector Thomas Lynley, the eighth earl of Asherton. Along with the redoubtable Detective Sergeant Barbara Havers, Lynley has been sent to solve a savage murder that has stunned the peaceful countryside. For fat, unlovely Roberta Teys has been found in her best dress, an axe in her lap, seated in the old stone barn beside her father's headless corpse. Her first and last words were "I did it. And I'm not sorry."

Yet as Lynley and Havers wind their way through Keldale's dark labyrinth of secret scandals and appalling crimes, they uncover a shattering series of revelations that will reverberate through this tranquil English valley—and in their own lives as well.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780553384796
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Publication date: 05/01/2007
Series: Inspector Lynley Series , #1
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 432
Sales rank: 71,127
Product dimensions: 5.19(w) x 8.24(h) x 0.87(d)

About the Author

Elizabeth George’s first novel, A Great Deliverance, was honored with the Anthony and Agatha Best First Novel Awards and received the Grand Prix de Littérature Policière. Her third novel, Well-Schooled in Murder, was awarded the prestigious German prize for suspense fiction, the MIMI. A Suitable Vengeance, For the Sake of Elena, Missing Joseph, Playing for the Ashes, In the Presence of the Enemy, Deception on His Mind, In Pursuit of the Proper Sinner, A Traitor to Memory, and I, Richard were international bestsellers. Elizabeth George divides her time between Huntington Beach, California, and London. Her novels are currently being dramatized by the BBC.


Seattle, Washington

Date of Birth:

February 26, 1949

Place of Birth:

Warren, Ohio


A.A. Foothill Community College, 1969; B.A. University of California, Riverside, 1970; M.S. California State University

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

It was a solecism of the very worst kind. He sneezed loudly, wetly, and quite unforgivably into the woman's face. He'd been holding it back for three-quarters of an hour, fighting it off as if it were Henry Tudor's vanguard in the Battle of Bosworth. But at last he'd surrendered. And after the act, to make matters worse, he immediately began to snuffle.

The woman stared. She was exactly the type whose presence always reduced him to blithering idiocy. At least six feet tall, dressed in that wonderfully insouciant mismatch of clothing so characteristic of the British upper classes, she was ageless, timeless, and she peered at him through razor blue eyes, the sort that must have reduced many a parlourmaid to tears forty years ago. She had to be well over sixty, possibly closer to eighty, but one could never tell. She sat bolt upright in her seat, hands clasped in her lap, a finishing-school posture which made no concessions towards comfort.

And she stared. First at his Roman collar, then at his undeniably dripping nose.

Do forgive, darling. A thousand apologies. Let's not allow a little faux pas like a sneeze to come between such a friendship as ours. He was always so amusing when engaged in mental conversations. It was only aloud that everything became a terrible muddle.

He snuffled again. Again she stared. Why on earth was she travelling second class? She'd swept into the carriage in Doncaster, like a creaking Salome with rather more than seven veils to her ensemble, and for the remainder of the trip she'd alternated between imbibing the railway's foul-smelling tepid coffee and staring at him with a disapproval that shouted Church of England at every available opportunity.

And then came the sneeze. Unimpeachably correct behaviour from Dancaster to London might have somehow excused his Roman Catholicism to her. But alas, the sneeze condemned him forever.

"I ... ah ... that is ... if you'll excuse ..." It was simply no good. His handkerchief was deep within his pocket. To reach it he would have to loosen his grasp on the battered attaché case in his lap, and that was unthinkable. She would just have to understand. We aren't talking about a breach of etiquette here, madam. We are talking about MURDER. Upon that thought, he snuffled with self-righteous vigour.

Hearing this, the woman sat even more correctly in her seat, every fibre of her body straining to project disapproval. Her glance said it all. It was a chronicle of her thoughts, and he could read each one: Pitiful little man. Pathetic. Not a day under seventy-five and looking positively every second of it. And so very much what one would expect of a Catholic priest: a face with three separate nicks from a poor job at shaving; a crumb of morning toast embedded in the corner of his mouth; shiny black suit mended at elbows and cuffs; squashed hat rimmed with dust. And that dreadful case in his lap! Ever since Doncaster he had been acting as if she'd boarded the train with the deliberate intention of snatching it from him and hurling herself out the window. Lord!

The woman sighed and turned away from him as if seeking salvation. But none was apparent. His nose continued to dribble until the slowing of the train announced that they were finally approaching their journey's end.

She stood and scourged him with a final look. "At last I understand what you Catholics mean by purgatory," she hissed and swept down the aisle to the door.

"Oh dear," muttered Father Hart. "Oh dear, I sup-pose I really have…" But she was gone. The train had come to a complete halt under the vaulted ceiling of the London station. It was time to do what he had come to the city to do.

He looked about to make sure that he was in possession of all his belongings, a pointless operation since he had brought nothing with him from Yorkshire save the single attaché case that had as yet not left his grip. He squinted out the window at the vast expanse of King's Cross Station.

He had been more prepared for a station like Victoria-or at least the Victoria he remembered from his youth-with its comforting old brick walls, its stalls and buskers, these latter always staying one step ahead of the metropolitan police. But King's Cross was something altogether different: long stretches of tiled floor, seductive advertisements hanging from the ceiling, newsagents, tobacconists, hamburger shops. And all the people—many more than he had expected—in queues for tickets, gobbling down hurried snacks as they raced for trains, arguing, laughing, and kissing goodbye. Every race, every colour. It was all so different. He wasn't sure he could bear the noise and confusion.

"Getting out, Father, or planning to stop t' night?"

Startled, Father Hart looked up into the ruddy face of the porter who had helped him find his seat earlier that morning upon the train's departure from York. It was a pleasant, north country face with the winds of the moors etched upon it in a hundred separate blood vessles that rode and broke near the surface of his skin.

His eyes were flinty blue, quick and perceptive. And Father Hart felt them like a touch as they slid in a friendly but querying movement from his face to the attaché case. Tightening his fingers round the handle, he stiffened his body, hoping for resolution and getting an excruciating cramp in his left foot instead. He moaned as the—balled hotly to its zenith.

The porter spoke anxiously. "Maybe you oughtn't be travellin' alone. Sure you don't need no help, like?"

He did, of course he did. But no one could help. He couldn't help himself.

"No, no. I'm off this very moment. And you've been more than kind. My seat, you know. The initial confusion."

The porter waved his words away. "Don't mind that. There's lots of folks don't realise them tickets means reserved. No harm done, was there?"

"No. I suppose…" Father Hart drew in a quick, sustaining breath. Down the aisle, out the door, find the tube, he told himself. None of that could be as insurmountable as it seemed. He shuffled towards the exit. His case, clutched two-handed upon his stomach, bounced with each step.

Behind him, the porter spoke. "'Ere, Father, the door's a bit much. I'll see to 't."

He allowed the man space to get past him in the aisle. Already two surly-looking railway cleaners were squeezing in the rear door, rubbish sacks over their shoulders, ready to prepare the train for its return trip to York. They were Pakistani, and although they spoke English, Father Hart found that he couldn't understand a single word beneath the obfuscation of their accepts.

The realisation filled him with dread. What was he doing here in the nation's capital where the inhabitants were foreigners who looked at him with cloudy, hostile eyes and immigrant faces? What paltry good could he hope to do? What silliness was this? Who would ever believe—

"Need some help, Father?"

Father Hart finally moved decisively. "No. Fine. Simply fine."

He negotiated the steps, felt the concrete platform beneath his feet, heard the calling of pigeons high in the vaulted ceiling of the station. He began to make his distracted way down the platform towards the exit and Euston Road. -

Behind him again he heard the porter. "Someone meeting you? Know where you're going? Where you off to now?"

The priest straightened his shoulders. He waved a goodbye. "Scotland Yard," he replied firmly.

* * *

St. Pancras Station, directly across the street from King's Cross, was such an architectural antithesis of the latter that Father Hart stood for several moments simply staring at its neo-Gothic magnificence. The clamour of traffic on Euston Road and the malodourous belching of two diesel-fuelled lorries at the pavement's edge faded into insignificance. He was a bit of an architecture buff, and this particular building was architecture gone wild.

"Good heavens, that's wonderful," he murmured, tilting his head to have a better view of the railway station's peaks and valleys. "A bit of a cleaning and she'd be a regular palace." He looked about absently, as if he would stop the next passerby and give a discourse on the evils that generations of coal fires had wrought upon the old building. "Now, I wonder who…"

The two-note siren of a police van howled suddenly down Caledonian Road, shrieking through the intersection onto Euston. It brought the priest back to reality. He shook himself mentally, part in irritation but another, greater part in fear. His mind was wandering daily now. And that signalled the end, didn't it? He swallowed a gagging lump of tenor and sought new determination. His eyes fell upon the scream of a headline across the morning paper propped up on a nearby newsstand. He stepped toward it curiously. RIPPER STRIKES AT VAUXHALL STATION!

Ripper! He shrank from the words, cast a look about, and then gave himself over to one quick paragraph from the story, skimming it rapidly lest a closer perusal betray an interest in morbidity unseemly in a man of the cloth. Words, not sentences, caught his sight. Slashed... semi-nude bodies... arteries… severed... victims male...

He shivered. His fingers went to his throat and he considered its true vulnerability. Even a Roman collar was no certain protection from the knife of a killer. It would seek. It would plunge.

The thought was shattering. He staggered back from the newsstand, and mercifully saw the underground sign a mere thirty feet away. It jogged his memory.

He groped in his pocket for a map of the city's underground system and spent a moment painstakingly perusing its crinkled surface. "The circle line to St. James's Park," he told himself. And then again with more authority, "The circle line to St. James's Park. The circle line to St. James's Park."

Like a Gregorian chant, he repeated the sentence as he descended the stairs. He maintained its metre and rhythm up to the ticket window and did not cease until he had placed himself squarely on the train. There he glanced at the other occupants of the car, found two elderly ladies watching him with unveiled avidity, and ducked his head. "So confusing," he explained, trying out a timid smile of friendship. "One gets so turned about."

"All kinds is what I'm tellin' you, Pammy," the younger of the two women declared to her companion. She shot a look of practiced, chilling contempt at the cleric. "Disguised as anything, I hear." Keeping her watery eyes on the confused priest, she dragged her withered friend to her feet, clung to the poles near the door, and urged her out loudly at the very next stop.

Father Hart watched their departure with resignation. No blaming them, he thought. One couldn't trust. Not ever. Not really. And that's what he'd come to London to say: that it wasn't the truth. It only looked like the truth. A body, a girl, and a bloody axe. But it wasn't the truth. He had to convince them, and... Oh Lord, he had so little talent for this. But God was on his side. He held onto that thought. What I'm doing is right, what I'm doing is right, what I'm doing is right. Replacing the other, this new chant took him right to the doors of New Scotland Yard.

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A Great Deliverance 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 121 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
While the story is unfolding, you find yourself questioning 'why?' very often. When, finally, all the 'whys?' are answered, you are exhausted and sweaty and in dire need of a frosty O'Dell's. Simply remarkable reading. The plot development, character development and finish are phenomenal. A must read. Elizabeth George is, simply put, the BEST!
KirstyHaining More than 1 year ago
Elizabeth George is one of my favorite authors (the kind you have to purchase in hardcover when she comes out with a new book). This is the first in her series of Inspector Lynley mysteries. Elizabeth George writes really well, but what really fascinates are her complex characters and their relationships. Her mysteries are a little on the dark side, but well worth it.
CheliD More than 1 year ago
Roberta Teys is found sitting in the barn over the headless body of her father and she freely admits "I did it. I'm not sorry.? But the residents of the small village cannot believe that Roberta could possibly do such a thing and so Scotland Yard is brought in to determine if Roberta really is the murderer. As the story unfolds the reader is taken through the village seeing Roberta as a pathetic unloved creature. Her mother abandoned the family when she was very small and her beloved older sister ran away leaving her on the farm with her overly zealous father. Her only escape appeared to be in books and time spent with her dog Whiskers and a small child in the village. However, the evidence appears to point to Roberta as the murderer because the dog's blood is all over the clothes that she was wearing and since the dog's body is beneath Farmer Teys' body, he had to be killed before her father. The deeper that Inspector Lynley and DS Havers dig to find out the true nature of the events, the deeper the reader is drawn into the lives of not only the villagers but Havers and Lynley as well. This book is the beginning of the Inspector Lynley series. I had watched several of the episodes that were shown on PBS and decided that I wanted to get more of the background of the characters so I'm starting at the beginning, but I got more than I bargained for. The beginning of the book seemed a bit disjointed to me, jumping around from one character and place to another, but in the end it all came together like a flash of lightning to explain how all the characters were impacted by the events that led to the murder. Definitely have to continue with the books - the characterizations are tremendous as well as the plot twists for the reader. I admitted to being completely stunned by the ending.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Recently seen in its adaptation on television readers will, I think, find the book better done and much more enjoyable. All of the Elizabeth George novels are more than worth the readers time and attention. They are all most enjoyable on several levels.
Guest More than 1 year ago
George is a good writer - vividly portrays settings and scences. The novel also keeps you guessing - great psychological thriller. She plays the British class angle a bit strongly but it's a great read nonetheless. Incidentally, I've run out and bought her other books as well - they're REALLY hard to put down. THe PBS version with Nathaniel Parker as DI Lynley is also very good - a different angle on the story, but well done.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
George delivered in her character development right very end. The book ended with the reader interested in what else is in store for the inspector and the Sargent. I will move on to the next book!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Oceanwings07 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I chose to read this one, as the first of the series, based on a general recommendation of the author, Elizabeth George, by my former boss and mentor. I quickly got lost in the book, both through the excellent story telling and the manner in which George writes. I was thrilled with her style and enjoyed it immensely. I will definitely be recommending George and this book often in the future.
kishields on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
For me, these books are a bit of a guilty pleasure, in that some of the writing is sub-par, particularly in this book the depiction of the two American tourists. I had to rush past those bits in order to keep going, along with the love scenes between Deborah and SImon. Ugh. However, this attests to the power of the rest of the story, including the mystery itself and the beginning relationship between Havers and Lynley. Picturing the two actors from the BBC television series, Nathaniel Parker and Sharon Small, both helps and hurts as you read. He is not blonde, but otherwise perfect for his role as the earl/detective. However, Sharon Small is much too pretty and tiny to be much like the descriptions of the fat, terribly unattractive Sgt. Havers of the novels. The desolation of the rural characters' lives in their small village is well portrayed in the novel, as is the pain felt by both Barbara and Thomas throughout their investigation. Of course the push and pull of their relationship is the crux of the series, and is somehow compelling enough to make me want to read the entire series start to finish. That's why I've returned to this book, the first of the series, after reading one other.
ccayne on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I've watched Lynley on TV and wanted to read the series from the beginning. Interesting to compare the visual image from the book with the TV series - Lynley is clearly not blond on TV. The appeal is in the characters as they negotiate emotional terrain rather than in the crime itself. George uses the crime as a way to draw out vulnerabilities in Lynley, Havers and others. Very well written and I liked how she tied in the opening scene with the end, although not what happened.
auntmarge64 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
What a treat to discover a new suspense series to read, and one with sixteen sequels, to date. The detectives are based in Scotland Yard, and each has a troubling and complicated past, partially revealed as the plot thickens. (Presumably, and hopefully, more is filled in as the series progresses.) The crime here is pretty gruesome (a daughter has apparently beheaded her father), but the real horror becomes apparent only bit by bit, truly a delight for suspense fans. There are some problems I hope wear off in future volumes: another woman detective who loathes herself? Oh, please¿..! And a ridiculous American of a type I¿ve never run into, and I know some pips (and I¿m an American, too) ¿ simply a superfluous characterization which might have been excusable if it furthered the plot, but, alas, not at all. But those caveats aside, I¿m very much looking forward to the arrival of the next in the series, which is on its way to me now.
dallenbaugh on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This was George's first Inspector Lynley novel. It was an intense, disturbing read due to the crimes involved, but that said, George handled her material with compelling detail including rich plot and character development. The theme of the book was how each of the characters dealt with the damage done to them by past experiences. Fortunately by the end of the book the two main characters, Lynley & Sargent Havers, had begun to let go of some of their demons. My main disappointment with the book stemmed from the initial treatment of Lynley (too good to be true) and Havers (completely unlovable) and the one sided caricature of the American tourists. By the end of the book George allowed us to view a more balanced portrayal of both Lynley and Havers so that we could believe in their humanity.
katiekrug on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The epitome of well-done modern British crime fiction and the first in the Inspector Lynley series, A Great Deliverance is a well-plotted, well-written mystery. George¿s character development and pacing are spot-on, and the ending is stunning in its details if not in its general outline. I look forward to continuing this series of, oh, about 16 books (gulp!).
cmbohn on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Themes: family secrets, crime, love, social classSetting: Yorkshire, England and London, 1990sRoberta Teys is found next to the decapitated body of her father. She immediately confesses and doesn't say another word. The village is shocked. They all know Roberta. Surely she couldn't have killed her father. There must be another explanation. The local police investigate, but there are a lot of loose ends. Why was the family dog killed? If Roberta did it, why? And if not, who? Scotland Yard is called in. Inspector Thomas Lynley, who is also the 8th Earl of Ashcroft, is assigned the case along with Inspector Barbara Havers. Havers is on her very last chance to stay keep her job. Too bad she can't stand Lynley.I had a little bit of a hard time with this book. I found the case interesting, and the two main characters were well drawn. But Havers with her enormous chip on her shoulder almost ruined the book for me. I did a little research online and found that the series does continue, so I decided to keep listening to see if things looked up. Then I thought that for Scotland Yard detectives, they were awfully slow to figure out what the motive was, almost unbelievably so. Is this really the first case of this type they had ever worked on? If so, they are fortunate indeed. I couldn't believe how long it took them to spot the signs of what was going on, and Havers didn't ever figure it out until 'all was revealed.' That's a bit thick, if you ask me. (I hope that wasn't a spoiler! I'm trying to be discreet.)But these flaws aside, I am planning on reading the next book in the series. I liked Lynley and Havers and I want to read more. I haven't seen any of the PBS series, but I've been warned that the two are a little different, which is only to be expected. But I will pick up the next book. 3 stars, and I hope that the next one is better.
LisaMaria_C on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Roberta Tey is found standing over her decapitated father with an axe and tells those who find her, "I did it. I'm not sorry." Scotland Yard's Lynley and Havers are sent to investigate. Although I could find fault, this was an engrossing and ultimately moving read. The major jarring fault for me were two instances of coincidence, and one in particular I thought stretched things too far--otherwise I'd say as a mystery the plotting is exemplary, with one particular twist outside the main line of the murder mystery that came close to moving me to tears. That moment involved investigating Detective Sergeant Barbara Havers, a character type that comes close to cliche in mystery fiction I've read--the female police officer with a huge chip on her shoulder that makes her impossible to work with. The "short and dumpy" working class Havers is partnered with Inspector Thomas Lynley, who is everything she is not and hates. A "golden boy," Lynley is a handsome, rich titled charmer. It's more the story of these two forging a partnership than the murder mystery in rural Yorkshire that grabbed me. George is terrific at showing their disconnect. In Lynley's case it's more that he doesn't know what Havers has to deal with--and she's not letting him in. In Havers' case it's her class prejudices and hasty presumptions that lead her to grossly misread Lynley. While I wouldn't call George's prose style literary--it's clean and straightforward in structure and style--it is stronger than most genre fiction even in this first novel. She's a great storyteller, with a gift for making you care about her characters, and I was propelled through the 400 plus pages in practically one sitting. There is disturbing material in this novel--be warned. But I thought it ultimately warming and well worth the read.
FlorenceArt on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Although I enjoyed reading this book, I also found it frustrating and disappointing. The characters and situations are nothing but a collection of stereotypes. Each character represents only one idea or type, and they completely lack any depth. But strangely enough, the author still manages to make them interesting. However, the lack of believability, originality and nuance becomes really annoying, especially at the end, which is totally ridiculous and reminds me of the cheap psychology of many American sitcoms.J'ai dévoré ce livre et pourtant je l'ai trouvé décevant. Les personnages et les situations sont de purs stéréotypes. Chaque personnage représente une idée ou un type, ils n'ont aucune profondeur, et pourtant l'auteur arrive à les rendre intéressants et sympathiques. Mais le manque de vraisemblance, d'originalité et de nuance finit par devenir pesant à la fin (grand-guignolesque par ailleurs).
bohemima on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A successful mystery, the first in the Inspector Lynley series. The character development of Lynley and Harris was very well done. The background information on Yorkshire was most interesting. An enjoyable book, but too much of a page turner for bedtime reading.
Kasthu on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A Great Deliverance, Elizabeth George¿s first novel, introduces its reader to Thomas Lynley and Barbara Havers, two London detectives who couldn¿t be more different. Lynley is Lord Peter Wimsey type, while Barbara Havers is brusque, angry at the hand life has given her. But the two are thrown together when a murder in Yorkshire occurs; a local man named William Teys is found with his neck severed, apparently murdered by his daughter, Roberta.Elizabeth George is exceptionally good at character development. This is especially true in a mystery series; after all, if you¿re going to keep reading about a group of characters, you want to feel some kind of connection with them from the beginning. She's also wonderful at characterizations, as well as pop culture references. George does a wonderful job setting up these characters¿ personalities and relationships. As for the murder mystery itself, there¿s not much new or surprising, but George puts a nice twist in the ending which I didn¿t see coming. All in all, I think I¿d continue reading this series; A Great Deliverance is a fast-paced, exciting read.
cbl_tn on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The headless body of William Teys lies in a barn in a small Yorkshire village. His daughter sits by the body, axe in hand. When they are discovered, she confesses ¿I did it. I'm not sorry.¿ This seems like an open and closed case, so why have the locals called in Scotland Yard? Details that don't seem to fit trouble the villagers. Might the daughter be innocent, and the killer still be at loose among them?For years I've been watching the television adaptation of this series, but this is my first experience with the books. I was startled by Lynley and Havers' physical descriptions, which are very different from the actors who portray them on television. The TV Lynley is dark, while the book Lynley is blond. The TV Havers is small and thin, while the book Havers is plump. Try as I might, after watching so many seasons of the TV series, the TV actors are who I picture as read, and I just have to accept the incongruity.Since I remembered the basic details from the TV adaptation of this book, my attention focused more on character development and the psychological tension in the story. One thing that struck me is that, with the exception of the village priest who presents the case to Scotland Yard, the only characters whose thoughts are revealed to the reader are the investigators and their associates. Like the investigators, the reader must decide how to interpret the words and actions of the witnesses/suspects.George took what at first glance seemed to be a domestic crime and explored its multiple facets ¿ its inconsistencies, questions of interpretation, the personality of the victim, the personality of the presumed killer, family dynamics, the effect of the murder on the small community, and the effect of stress on the personal and professional relationships of those who investigate murder for a living. A characteristic passage:{Lynley} couldn't remember the last time he had felt so burdened by a case. It felt as if a tremendous weight, having nothing whatsoever to do with the responsibility of getting to the bottom of the matter, were pressing upon his heart. He knew the source. Murder¿its atavistic nature and ineffable consequences¿was a hydra. Each head, ruthlessly cut off in an effort to reach the ¿prodigious dog-like body¿ of culpability, left in its place two heads more venomous than the last. But unlike so many of his previous cases, in which mere rote sufficed to see him sear his way to the core of evil¿stopping the flow of blood, allowing no further growth, and leaving him personally untouched by the encounter¿this case spoke to him far more intimately.If the rest of the books are as good as this one, I'll enjoy getting re-acquainted with favorite characters in their original form.
bcquinnsmom on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
In London, Scotland Yard is searching desperately for a killer known as The Ripper, who seeks and takes victims at railway stations. But in York, a crime of a different sort has occurred: a young girl, overweight and unattractive, has been found in the barn next to her house with a dead dog and her father¿s decapitated body. The girl, Roberta, has as much as admitted that she did it, but the local priest isn¿t sure and contacts Scotland Yard. Enter Inspector Lynley and his newly-appointed partner, Barbara Havers, and off to York they go. The investigation isn¿t easy: the only eyewitness, Roberta, is in a mental institution where she refuses to talk. Havers and Lynley must piece together what might have happened ¿ but it¿s not going to be an easy task.So much for the summary. Now here¿s what I think. The author did a good job with the crime per se, and the core mystery is good, handled well under the circumstances (which I cannot mention because it would wreck it for others). Aside from that, though, there¿s way too much personal angst among the main characters, so much so that you wonder how this mystery ever got solved. Lynley is an aristocrat who started with the police to give something back to the community, was in love with another one of the characters, Deborah, who ultimately married his friend Simon. So on top of solving this rather brutal crime, he has to stop and sort out his feelings for Deborah. A bit out of place, but whatever. Then there¿s Havers. She is described as being from working-class stock, rather dumpy with a poor sense of how to dress, and she has it in for Lynley and his friends because they¿re from the upper crust of society. Her anger and resentment strikes at odd places in this story, which is a bit distracting. Lady Helen, I could actually take or leave.Having said all of this, you¿d probably think I didn¿t care for the book, but I did. I like a well-crafted and well-plotted mystery novel, and aside from the main characters having to sort through their spontaneous crises at times, it was a good story. My experience with first novels in mystery series is that they are probably not the best that the author has to give. I would recommend this book, certainly, for people who enjoy UK crime fiction. Not a cozy at all, but a rather dark and broody novel, it¿s a good mystery read.
Ayling on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is my mum's favourite series and I've seen the TV series already. I enjoyed the first one and would like to at some point get around to reading the others - but some of them are so thick it makes you feel afraid to!
tloeffler on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is the first book in the Inspector Lynley/Sergeant Havers mysteries. I have watched the PBS series for years and loved it, so this was a natural progression.Tommy Lynley is a wealthy young man who works as a police inspector because he wants to. Barbara Havers is a sergeant from a lower class family who has been kicked down from CID to uniform multiple times because she can't get along with a single inspector she has worked with. As her last chance, she is paired with Lynley to investigate the decapitation of a farmer, whose daughter will only say "I did it. And I'm not sorry." No one believes the daughter is capable, and there is no evidence that she did it, so the investigation begins.A great story, once you get the characters straight. There is a lot of background that makes the TV series clearer.
hobbitprincess on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is actually the first book written in the Lynley/Havers series, although it isn't first chronologically. As with all of George's books, this one is a masterful mix of murder mystery and character portraits that will carry throughout the series. We get to know Barbara Havers in this one, who, despite her rough edges, is someone I really like. The characters are all so complex, and that's what I like. The murder itself is a grizzly decapitation where there is more than meets the eye. Great read! I look forward to reading all the others.