Elizabeth George has long been one of the most prolific of crime writers, and this American practitioner (who chooses to set her fiction in Great Britain, a country of which she is inordinately fond) has managed to finesse her already considerable sales by cracking the lucrative television market. Her uppercrust copper, Detective Inspector Thomas Lynley, is a firm TV favourite (as incarnated by the actor Nathaniel Parker in the long-running Inspector Lynley Mysteries
). But as her new novel, This Body of Death
, comprehensively proves, Elizabeth George aficionados need to pick up one of her books to get the real flavour of her achievement. The latest book is something of an epic in terms of George’s oeuvre, weighing in at nearly 600 pages, but George manages to justify the book's considerable length.
Thomas Lynley is on compassionate leave after the savage murder of his wife, and his replacement at the Met is Isabelle Ardery. A body has been discovered in an Islington Cemetery, and it is up to Isabelle to crack the case. She is particularly keen to do so, discerning that results in this area would be very good for her career. But the Met has been going through a very bad patch, and a series of well-publicised disasters have left the force in very bad odour. The media is studying the Met with forensic attention, and Isabelle cannot afford to fail. She realises that she needs Lynley's team (fiercely loyal to their boss, notably the highly capable Barbara Havers), and -- most of all -- she needs the still-grieving Thomas Lynley himself. But can he be persuaded to break off from his compassionate leave?
As usual, George demonstrates a consummate grasp of the kind of plotting so necessary for a novel such as this -- a fact that will come as absolutely no surprise to her army of admirers. And it is a canny trick in This Body of Death to keep Lynley offstage for a while, so that when he is brought back into the fray, his appearance is all the more welcome. That's not to say that Isabelle Ardrey is not characterised quite as vividly, and holds the stage almost as compellingly as George’s trademark copper. The author hates her fiction being described as ‘cosy’; sorry, Ms George, but it is -- though when it is as authoritatively delivered as it is here, such labels become irrelevant. --Barry Forshaw
'An intelligent book, clipped and precise, every word chosen with care ... a cool, clever book that needs concentration and a sharp brain to unravel ... Along the way to solving the crime we meet some finely drawn characters who emerge as real people with faults and frailties. Ms George is the connoisseur's crime writer. Like fine wine, her words need to be savoured ... Lynley is a policeman with a gentle touch and it is good to have him back on such brilliant form.' -- Sunday Express 'The author writes brilliantly and has an incredible ability to set a scene and create characters you want to know more about.' -- Sun 'Terrific as always - and how great to have Lynley back on the force.' -- Time Out 'Hurrah, another Inspector Lynley ... This is crime writing at its finest. George's books are long, solid and wonderfully crafted; she is a modern Dorothy L Sayers.' -- Saga 'Dark, unrelenting and powerful' -- Kirkus Reviews