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am 18. Juni 2005
Elizabeth George continues her superb exploration of the theme of how love affects us in this engrossing police procedural. For once, she balances her powerful character-development skills with an intriguing plot to explore an intriguing mystery. This is the work of a master with all her talents fully on display.
The title refers to the UK-Australian cricket rivalry. If you don't know cricket, relax. Although cricket is part of the book's backdrop, you don't need to know anything about it to enjoy the book.
The stage is set when the UK's foremost cricket batsman, Kenneth Fleming, is found dead in a country cottage, the apparent victim of an arson-based fire. But he seems misplaced. The man was supposed to be in Greece with his elder son. What's going on?
Thomas Lynley and Barbara Havers face their toughest case yet as they probe the causes of the celebrity death while the tabloid headlines scream their usual exaggerated fare. There are plenty of clues . . . but they don't tie into any particular suspect . . . and the usual suspects all have alibis. How will they solve the case?
For me, the biggest appeal of this book is its broad look at attraction, parental love, romantic love, marital love, love among friends and love for our fellow creatures. She also does a remarkable job of exploring the hate and cruelty that come through the dark side of love. Ms. George takes the position that we are bound to be ensnared in harmful ways by all of these loving feelings, but that we wouldn't be human if we weren't. Our challenge: To do the right thing whenever enough passion cools its grip enough to allow us to function somewhat rationally.
Most of the attention is on characters who only appear in this book. The main development of the continuing characters comes as Lynley tries again to persuade Lady Helen to marry him. Barbara Havers begins to adjust to her new home and feels guilty about not visiting her mother as often as she should. If continuity from one book to another is important to you, you will probably find less here than you wanted.
Those who will be disappointed with this book will be fans of For the Sake of Elena who wanted to see another fascinating victim. Fleming is a complex character, but one who falls well below Elena in terms of his inherent ability to attract a reader's interest. But this book certainly does have more than its share of richly complex characters, especially in Olivia, who provides much of the book's narration.