Melaszka's Reviews > This Body of Death

This Body of Death by Elizabeth  George
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Feb 05, 12

Read from February 04 to 05, 2012

** spoiler alert ** This book reminded me of everything I love and hate about the Lynley series.

It was an unputdownable read, even though George flagged up where most of the plot strands were going fairly early on. Both the police officers' problematic personal stories and the stories of the suspects kept me gripped form start to finish.

I loved the fact that there was so much going on, that it touched on so many pertinent issues about British life in such detail, that there were so many different storylines intersecting, any one of which could have led to the murderer.

Unlike many of the reviewers here, I loved What Came Before He Shot Her and I actually prefer it when George writes about ordinary people and gritty social problems to when she writes about her (IMO somewhat cardboard and unconvincing) upper-class characters. I was actually thrilled to see the back of Lynley's boring, posh and perfect wife and am mildly disappointed that we're still stuck with his boring, posh and perfect friends. There's something slightly distasteful to me about the way that Lynley and his social circle are portrayed as being a cut above everyone else, in terms of manners, morality and intelligence.

However, while I think the question of child murderers is an important and fascinating one, the case in the book was slightly too obviously constructed from the Greatest Hits of Mary Bell, Robert Thompson and Jon Venables. It seems a tad inappropriate, sensationalist and profiting from other people's misfortune to base a thriller so closely on disturbing real cases, especially when the bereaved families are still alive and their grief is still so raw.

As with many of George's novels, I found the ending a bit of a disappointment after the rollercoaster ride of a plot that had gone before it. When she'd put so many fascinating possibilities on the table, the ending almost seemed like the least interesting possibility she could have opted for.

Also, George badly needs to get a better Britpicker - it's astonishing that she can write so well about Britain when she's not British and there are never any major cultural or linguistic errors, but in every Lynley book I've read there have been small details that are wrong or unlikely for a British context. George particularly struggles with the English education system (in this book, she has a character leaving school with poor GCSEs several years before GCSEs were introduced, but in the two previous books we have had vets and doctors training with postgraduate degrees, like they do in the States, not with their first degree, as is the norm in the UK, and a completely mangled idea of what the compulsory school-leaving age is and what courses students have to follow by law before they get to it). Characters' names often sound odd for their age or social background or very odd on a British person, at all. I don't blame George, but she has a large editorial team who should be picking these things up.

But it was still a thumping good read.

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