This was a major change for me from the usual Elizabeth George books. Inspector Lynley was missing and did I miss him. It somehow missed the flavour of all her books and though Havers did a wonderful job, faux pas and all throughout and ended up trumps, I somehow felt that something was missing from the mix.
We have a sleepy little town in two distinct halves. The "white" very English part of town and the very "muslim" part of town - no one actually says anything but the feelings of animosity and almost anger and hatred are very strong in some sectors. Amongst both communities you get the rational beings but a few rabid souls can rouse a whole community and the Police have been set with an unenviable task of keeping the peace.
A murder of a young man who is just six weeks in England, come to marry the youngest daughter of the foremost Muslim family in the town. The Bangladeshi community feels that since it is an Asian man murdered, the police are not very interested in finding the culprit and are more than likely to sweep everything under the carpet, unless they can find another Asian suspect. The English on the other hand think that it is a murder within the community and the threads that start unraveling definitely point out that way.
There is infighting amongst the leading family, a Asian English love affair which will horrify both sides if it comes out, blackmail, two friends completely at odds with each other, homosexuality, women still living very stultified lives in a modern community at variance with what is happening outside their homes and an economic recession to add more woe to the inhabitants of this seaside town.
How Havers works with the Chief of Police of this town and succeeds in solving the crime but at what personal cost to themselves.
I was surprised at the amount of racial hatred and the animosity and the disparaging attitude of everyone involved in the story. Although everyone tries to maintain a facade of tolerance, this is not even skin deep and practically everyone in the story is intolerant.
The end was very surprising and not at all what I expected. The butler never did this one!