The body of a young woman has been found brutally stabbed and abandoned in an old London cemetery. Acting Superintendent Ardery, an ambitious detective with some hidden flaws, is eager to identify the victim and solve the murder as quickly as possible to prove to her superiors that she is the right person to head the department permanently. The detectives under her command are somewhat wary of her, and in one case downright hostile, so Ardery asks Lynley to re-join the team for a few weeks to help smooth the transition and to solve the case.
The victim is soon identified, and as the team researches her background, they find no shortage of possible suspects. Every suspect seems to have his own hidden secret, and the team must scatter throughout London and beyond to a place called the New Forest to investigate each one. Isabelle Ardery eventually focuses on one suspect and makes a tactical mistake, further alienating her team of detectives. It is up to Lynley, of course, to help Ardery correct her mistakes and to discover the truth.
Elizabeth George is at the top of my list of favorite mystery writers and for good reason. She is a master storyteller who weaves so many subplots together in This Body of Death that the reader is just as intrigued by the stories of the different characters as by the murder mystery itself. Having read all of her novels, I was delighted when I found this newest in the series at Powell's Bookstore in Portland, Oregon. Opening the book on the plane ride home was like re-joining family, and I was eager for news on how they, especially Lynley, were all faring.
|Powell's Books in downtown Portland, Oregon. The largest independent new and used bookstore in the world, it covers four stories and a whole city block. You need a map to find the mystery section!|
If there is one criticism of the book I have, it is that there wasn't enough of Sgt. Barbara Havers, Lynley's usual "sidekick." The honest and intelligent policewoman Havers is a fashion disaster and often appears at the scene of a crime wearing red high-topped trainers and a baggy t-shirt. (Why am I always drawn to these less-than-perfect appearing heroines??) Havers does play a crucial role in solving the murder in The Body of Evidence, but this time she primarily works on her own rather than in her usual role at the side of Lynley, an unlikely but very capable pairing. This is a small disappointment, however, and I'm sure that Sgt. Havers will be back at Lynley's side in the next novel.
If you've never read any novels by Elizabeth George, I suggest you begin with the early ones so that you can become acquainted with all the "family," not just Lynley and Havers. But it's not necessary to have read the earlier books to appreciate This Body of Death. Just don't be daunted by the length--it will keep you turning pages more quickly than a book half its length and once finished, I think you'll be as anxious for the next book in the series as I am!
And for my gardening friends . . .
Accompanied by beautiful color photos, the book has a very appealing layout; my favorite part, strangely enough, has to be the appendix with its easy to follow plant index, including bloom times. Rose at Ramble on Rose wrote an excellent review of the book some time back, so if you would like to know more, I suggest you read her much more thorough review here. This book is definitely a keeper--my copy is due back at the library soon, but I think I'll be heading to the bookstore to add this one to my personal library!
For more book reviews, check out this month's entries at Barrie Summy's.
Disclaimer: No compensation of any kind was received for either of these book reviews. I review only books I have enjoyed reading, and either purchase my own copy or borrow it from the local library.