Elizabeth George never disappoints me. This time around it was particularly good. A practical reason as well. The book was one of 300 odd pages compared to her normal 800 page tomes and sometimes when the story becomes so long, I tend to lose track of characters, plots and sub plots. Especially since I am reading on the go as it were and not in one place (if that is understandable!).
This one set in the bleak winter of a Scot landscape was brilliant. I loved the descriptiveness first of the landscape. Maybe it appeals to me because it is the exact opposite of where I live (hot, tropical, humid). The feeling of isolation, the absolute silence of the entire setting is something that can never be found in a populous island like mine.
A theatre group including director, playwright and actors meet for a reading in this remote Scottish manor and the playwright ends up dead with a dirk through her neck. Inspector Lynley and his partner Havers are sent out to investigate the crime. At the onset itself it seems rather strange and out of place because Scotland Yard has no jurisdiction in this territory and Lynley should have smelt a rat. It is not till the very end that Lynley finds how he has been used - being a peer it was decided by the higher ups that he would be the ideal sucker to be taken in by another peer Lord Stinhurst whose actions in the case are so suspicious and that Lynley will be taken in by the word of a "gentleman", accept everything he says as gospel and the case will die a graceful death.
Unfortunately, they did not think of Havers - who cannot stand the toffs, disregards everything they say and is suspicious to the last of the "gentlemen". A second murder of an innocent bystander, the discovery of suicide of a young woman twenty five years ago, now not a suicide but a murder and the unravelling of that story linked to this play makes for a marvellous mystery murder. Add to this several adulterous relationships, family secrets, government cover ups, a Soviet mole and you definitely have not just a good crime fiction read but a wonderful read.
One of the best by Elizabeth George.