Surreysmum's Reviews > This Body of Death

This Body of Death by Elizabeth  George
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May 18, 2011

really liked it
bookshelves: 2011, mystery, passed-on
Read in March, 2011

I have not followed Elizabeth George's series, so it took me a moment to acclimate to Lynley's slightly Wimseyesque world - at least on the surface, though he is far less of a dilettante than Wimsey, and his world is a grimmer one. George plays the apparently-unconnected narrative from the past and narrative from the present game very well indeed; in this case, the narrative from the past is a slightly pedantic (and thus curiously more credible) fiction-veneered re-telling of the horrifying case from the 80s in Britain of a toddler kidnapped and murdered by ten-year-olds. I haven't had enough internet access to be able to determine how closely she adhered to the established facts, but I doubt she had to add anything to make it more horrible. In the current chronology, there's a lot going on personally for several of the ongoing cast of police characters - enough to justify the book's 953(!) pages. Anyway, hidden treasure trove, a woman murdered by a womanizing opportunist, the near-murder of a female friend whose main fault is her impulsive need to be loyal - and the main mystery, only revealed near the end: which character is one of the three murdering ten-year-olds? And which of the three is he, given that they are portrayed with varying degrees of sympathy? (There were only two in the Bulger case, which makes me think that George was quite carefully avoiding association with either of the real-life murderers, while still bringing up all the issues related to the post-release treatment of serious juvenile offenders). Of course we are not spared - it's the least sympathetic of the three. There's a very nasty police inspector who escapes without getting what's due him for abusing his power, sexually assaulting the grown-up boy murderer; the rest of the case is also a bit of a Pyrrhic victory, especially for the Met's reputation. Oh yes, and Lynley, who is still grieving for his wife, has a brief fling with a female rival in the police whose alcoholism is impairing her judgment. That last was the least interesting part of the story to me, but perhaps if I read more Lynley mysteries (and I may well) it'll become more so. Forgot to say I also liked the Barbara Havers character (sloppy dresser, damn good cop) very much.
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