Mystery fans, rejoice! Elizabeth George has returned with a novel worthy of the Lynley moniker. Anyone following George's Inspector Lynley series willMystery fans, rejoice! Elizabeth George has returned with a novel worthy of the Lynley moniker. Anyone following George's Inspector Lynley series will know that This Body of Death is the third novel following the murder of Inspector Thomas Lynley's beloved wife, Helen. (What Came Before He Shot Her is not really of the Lynley series, since the story is all about the events that led to a young boy shooting Helen Lynley, rather than a Lynley mystery per se.)
The delicious Lynley grieved his way through Careless in Red, but I found something a bit off about that book. As Lynley's long-term partner, DS Barbara Havers implies, it was Lynley, but not really Lynley. The mystery plot behind Careless was not quite as compelling as previous novels in the series, but it did serve the purpose of moving the series forward following the death of a major character, the murder of the protagonist's wife. And so the series continues with This Body of Death, which I'm happy to say is classic George.
George spends much of the first quarter of the novel developing the supporting characters. This got to be a tad bit tedious, but it was important to understanding the players and their subsequent actions. The murder-mystery plot begins to weave itself together from the various narrative threads about half-way through the novel, except for one particular thread about the arrest/trial of three young boys accused of murdering a toddler. This is the black thread in the white tapestry that you know is significant, but you don't really understand why until later in the book.
The familiar characters of Nkata, Hillier, Havers, and the St. Jameses are all back and remain lovingly dysfunctional in their own way. Tommy Lynley himself seems a bit more human in this novel, still grieving Helen, but way more recognizable as the Lynley we've grown to love over the course of the series. The author adds an interesting spice of character into the mix with the introduction of Superintendent Isabelle Ardery. She is ostensibly Lynley's new boss and is also a functional alcoholic. There is a good degree of uncertainty and sexual tension between Ardery and Lynley. Loyal Helen fans will be happy to know that this is an internal source of conflict for our fair lordly hero. It also, interestingly, gives rise to notable internal conflict for Lynley's long-time partner, Havers, which of course she is completely ill-equipped to handle. What George deliciously leaves open, however, is whether Havers' unease is due to her feelings for Lynley as a partner or something more.
The intricate and compelling plot of this novel simply makes for a great page-turner. What's more, even readers who are unfamiliar with other works in the Lynley series can pick this up and feel drawn into the characters and story.
Overall, I feel that This Body of Death puts George back on track with familiar characters and intriguing mystery plots. In a sense, the author has successfully restarted the series. Excellent!...more
This title has been on my To Read list for a long time and I'm so glad to have finally found it at my local library. You must read it all the way to tThis title has been on my To Read list for a long time and I'm so glad to have finally found it at my local library. You must read it all the way to the end to fully appreciate the journey. Is the book perfect? No. There are some elements that fell flat (and I did not find it gratuitously gruesome as others reviewers did). What I really liked was the author's bold choices with plot twists. When you read a lot of mystery and thriller novels as I do, you grow to appreciate the times when an author does something unexpected and screws with the reader's mind a little....more
I've found Bohjalian's novels to be hit or miss. Either they are great and I cannot put them down, or they're dull and I cannot bear to finish them. TI've found Bohjalian's novels to be hit or miss. Either they are great and I cannot put them down, or they're dull and I cannot bear to finish them. Thankfully, his latest, "The Light in the Ruins" falls into the former category.
The novel is set in Tuscany, Italy, alternating between the end of World War Two (1944-5) and a decade later. The narrative centers on the landed Rosati family, who struggle to accept the German army's presence at their estate. Germany and Italy were formally allies in the war, but the people were divided in their support for Mussolini and the war. As one character describes the situation, "It was like a civil war in the midst of the world war." The Rosati estate becomes the fulcrum of a perfect storm of violence: the desperate, retreating German army; a small band of Italian partisans/rebel fighters, opposed to the Italian fascist state and the Nazis; and the advancing British and American forces. Perhaps the setting is so compelling because I am not familiar with this particular political maelstrom from the war.
Bohjalian eloquently captures the personal devastation that occurs when these three forces collide and what the Rosati family must do to survive when it happens. The other half of the narrative, set in 1955, is essentially a murder mystery that is ultimately about the consequences of the family's decisions during the war.
"The Light in the Ruins" is a beautifully written story that can certainly hold its own in the ever-growing canon of World War Two fiction. I thoroughly enjoyed it!...more
This is the first Picoult novel I ever read, so perhaps my perspective is a bit biased. But I thoroughly enjoyed this book. The emotional issues raiseThis is the first Picoult novel I ever read, so perhaps my perspective is a bit biased. But I thoroughly enjoyed this book. The emotional issues raised throughout the novel were compelling and skillfully described, although I admit that I did not have any sympathy for the mother. (In fact, I thought her a selfish cow.) But what really got me was the final few pages. Wow!!...more