Welcome to Murder by the Book's blog about what we've read recently. You can find our website at www.mbtb.com.

Saturday, December 31, 2011

Believing the Lie, by Elizabeth George (hardcover, $28.95) (due date 1/10/12)

Believing the Lie is so long and takes so long to finish, rife as it is with plot and setting details and character descriptions, that it felt like a member of the family had died when I finally finished it. It  had had breakfast and lunch with me for so many days that I now have forgotten what I used to do while eating before this 624-page guest came to stay.

Lynley and Haver have their own personal turmoils to contend with while solving a crime in the far-off Lake District. The Lake District, where Peter Rabbit frolicked and daffodils grow in great abundance in Spring. The Lake District, where the body of the presumed heir to a bathroom fixtures fortune has been found in the family boathouse, expired by way of drowning.

It's a tortured path that brings Lynley to the victim's family estate incognito. He co-opts Havers into performing her own brand of subterfuge to get research past acting superintendent Isabelle Ardery, the bane of Havers' existence and Lynley's erstwhile lover, because no one must know that Lynley is in the Lake District. Sorry. That's a little too contrived. Nevertheless, there sits Lynley, far from the madding crowd of London.

Even more contrived is the involvement of Simon St. James, forensic scientist, and his wife, Deborah St. James. Deborah, although she is a photographer and not a law enforcement officer, plays a part in the deception to discover who might want Ian Caldwell dead. Deborah's part of the book takes a good fourth, and her part makes for a sad tale in the end. 

Apart from the ongoing soap opera involving George's standard players, there are three distinct mysteries that George sets before us. Who killed Ian Caldwell? Who is the mysterious Argentinian wife of the victim's cousin? What is Ian's young son's terrible secret?

It's hard to swallow all the stories George creates; some are more sympathetic than others and some are too outrageous. Each of the non-recurring characters is the carrier of his or her own salvation or destruction, and heavy lie the heads with that burden. At this stage in her series, Believing the Lie is neither the best nor the worst of her stories. George always gets an A+ for effort. I admit to a heavily tilted prejudice in favor of the stories with Barbara Havers over the other main characters, and the more Barbara the better. That being said, I really enjoyed the fourth of the book that was Barbara's and less the fourth that was Deborah's.

No comments:

Post a Comment