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Inspector Lynley #9

Deception on His Mind

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Balford-le-Nez is a dying seatown on the coast of Essex. But when a member of the town's small but growing Asian community, a Pakistani named Haytham Querashi, is found dead near its beach, his neck broken, sleepy Balford-le-Nez ignites. And working solo, without her long-time partner Detective Inspector Thomas Lynley, Sergeant Barbara Havers must probe not only the mind of a murderer and a case very close to her own heart, but the terrible price people pay for deceiving others...and themselves.

716 pages, Mass Market Paperback

First published January 1, 1997

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About the author

Elizabeth George

109 books4,776 followers
Librarian Note: There is more than one author in the GoodReads database with this name. See this thread for more information.

Susan Elizabeth George is an American author of mystery novels set in Great Britain. Eleven of her novels, featuring her character Inspector Lynley, have been adapted for television by the BBC as The Inspector Lynley Mysteries.

She was born in Warren, Ohio, but moved to the San Francisco Bay Area when she was eighteen months old. She was a student of English, receiving a teaching certificate. While teaching English in the public school system, she completed an advanced degree in psychology.

Her first published novel was A Great Deliverance in 1988, featuring Thomas Lynley, Lord Asherton, a Scotland Yard inspector of noble birth; Barbara Havers, Lynley's assistant, from a very working-class background; Lady Helen Clyde, Lynley's girlfriend and later wife, of noble birth as well; and Lynley's friends Simon and Deborah St. James.

This Elizabeth George is distinct from the other author named Elizabeth George (Christian author).

* Inspector Lynley

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 484 reviews
Profile Image for Idarah.
464 reviews49 followers
June 13, 2022

"Barbara was well aware of the myriad prices women had to pay to succeed in police work. Men in the profession didn't have to persuade a single soul that their competence was unaffected by their sex. Women lived with having to do that daily."

Another amazing police procedural under my belt. I can't get over how good this series is, and why I hadn't thought to continue the series years ago. I will own that you have to be in the right frame of mind to really appreciate George's style of writing. It's not all plot, and that's where it requires patience. In the past, I've slugged through a couple that weren't favorites for me, but now I wonder if I should have just picked them up at another time. I might have to revisit those.

As regards this book, it seems so timely! Although written in 1997, the topic of xenophobia is at the forefront of the novel. A Pakistani man is murdered in a small Essex community, and the small Asian community has banded together in protest because the police have been slow to look into the murder, treating it as a botched burglary. How Barbara finds herself in the mix when she's supposed to be on leave from work, I'll leave for you to piece together...but demonstrates how this is a series that needs to be read in order.

The angles George pulls on this one are just spot on, and even before 9-11. So many of the characters are esteemed members of society, but don't realize what bigots they are, or even that they're sexist, ageist and/or homophobes. It's all here! And the extent that people will go to in order to hide their true colors is at the heart of this mystery. So good. I'm trying to limit myself to one Lynley mystery a month, but that's getting harder and harder to do when I have the next books sitting on my shelf.
Profile Image for Obsidian.
2,709 reviews928 followers
August 12, 2019
So...we have a book where Havers is the lead and Lynley is only in it for a few moments. I don't think the book worked without Lynley being included. Also Havers started to bug me since based on her character it made zero sense why she got so invested in her next door neighbor. I also thought the ending of who killed the murdered man was a reach and a half. It just didn't make any sense from what we know. I honestly thought it was another character. Also there were too many loose ends that left me feeling unsatisfied.

"Deception on His Mind" takes place about two weeks after the events in the last book. Lynley has married Lady Helen and is now off on his honeymoon. Havers is recovering from the brutal fight she was in. With forced time off she is at loose ends and when she finds out her next door neighbors are going to Balford-le-Nez due to a family thing, Havers decides to go to keep them out of trouble. From there we have Havers being invited in to help by the local DCI into the murder of a Pakistani man named Haytham Querashi. Racial tensions are high and the local activist groups are demanding that whatever English person who did this be brought to justice. George follows several people in the village and we quickly find out that everyone has secrets they are hiding.

So Havers....nope. I honestly thought she was replaced by an alien in this one until the very end when she does something Havers like that may end up causing ripples in the next book. I didn't even get why she was so invested in the case and wanting to follow Taymullarh Azhar and his daughter.

The DCI on the case, Emily Barlow is no Lynley. It takes Havers a while to see her for who she is, but once again, I think it's going to take until the next book to unwrap that whole thing.

I do wonder at how things will go with Taymullarh and his daughter.

George also focuses on Taymullarh's relations in this one, his cousins Malik and Sahlah are interested in this case since Salah was to marry Haytham. Sahlah has a lot of secrets in this one and her English friend Rachel who wanted her to stand up to her family and refuse to marry Haytham. We also have a local English matriarch, Agatha Shaw and her family that want the case to be dealt with so it doesn't bring even more ruin upon the village.

Sahlah's POV's were the best in my mind in the book. However, George left a lot of loose ends with this character and I can guess at what is going to come next, but I hate that. I wish that George had been more explicit about things. Also there's still loose threads with other characters and the whole thing made my head hurt last night when I finished this one.

The writing was all over the place in this one. I couldn't follow a train of thought beyond Sahlah and Rachel's honestly. When we switch back to the case I found myself bored. The flow was pretty bad throughout I have to say.

The ending definitely leaves things up in the air and I found myself thinking that this was just definitely the very definition of a filler book.
Profile Image for Ed.
862 reviews110 followers
January 19, 2009
I slogged through this 713 page monster because I have enjoyed George's Inspector Detective Thomas Lynley stories so much, both in print and on the televised BBC series. (I also have a hard time abandoning books I begin.) This one features his side-kick and apprentice, Detective Sergeant Barbara Havers, no Lynley to be found.

In this story, Elizabeth George takes on the cultural difficulties of Pakistani immigrants as background for the entire book. To paraphrase The Grateful Dead, "What a Long Strange Journey It Was." She admits in the Acknowledgments that attempting to write about the Pakistani experience in England was an enormous undertaking. I question why she made reading about the subject create such an enormous undertaking for us.

Put simply, a recent Pakistani Immigrant is murdered and Sergeant Havers follows a Pakistani neighbor and friend, who's been asked to help the family, to Balfour le Nez on the North Sea Coast. After days and days and days of false trails and frustrating interviews she figures out who she thinks did it only to realize it was someone else she never expected.

George goes on and on with internal dialogues, external dialogues, internal experiences, external experiences, etc., etc., etc. ad nauseum. At one point she spends three full pages describing two Pakistani children being harassed by a car full of toughs and losing their ice cream cones. Alright already. it could have been effectively done in two or three paragraphs.

All the "good stuff" is contained in the last 75 pages. So good that it almost made reading the other 638 pages worthwhile. I do admit that George's research is impressive, her grasp of English idiom and her "Murder Mystery" plotting are all very good, especially for an American author, but it will be a while before I try another of her books.
Profile Image for Lisa (Harmonybites).
1,834 reviews326 followers
September 18, 2011
This is my favorite in the Lynley series after the first one, A Great Deliverance. I didn't find it quite as powerful, that first book in the series moved me to tears. In this one Inspector Thomas Lynley is off on his honeymoon so his partner Detective Sergeant Barbara Havers--who was battered emotionally and physically in her last case--is on her own. And instead of taking the rest Lynley urged on her, Havers heads to Essex where a murder case is setting off racial tensions between English and the immigrant Pakistani community. One involving her neighbors Azhar and his eight-year-old daughter Hiddayah. And involving as well Emily Barlows, an up and coming Detective Inspector heading the case who Havers greatly admires.

I did miss Lynley. I think Havers and Lynley are at their best together. I don't mean that in a shippy way, but that as characters I think they play off each other beautifully. However, even when missing from the action, Lynley has a constant presence in Havers's mind, and it's even more evident in this book than past ones he's had an influence on her--that she's learned from him. On the other hand, Lynley has some baggage--the St Jameses and Helen Clyde--and given I'm none too fond of them, I did find it a bonus that Lynley's absence meant we didn't have to deal with them or the soap opera aspects they bring with them.

And I loved Haddiyah, and what she brings out in Havers. The last 70 pages or so were suspenseful and moving and if you can be proud of a fictional character, well I'm proud of Havers at the end. She's come a long way from the character we met in A Great Deliverance.
Profile Image for Jamie Collins.
1,421 reviews262 followers
April 25, 2017
Another very enjoyable read. I like these books more and more, and I'm going to be sad when I've finished them all. The characterizations are outstanding and the mysteries are well-crafted, as long as you don't mind the author's slight cheat of putting you in the mind of the killer without revealing that he or she is the guilty party.

This is the first of these novels to focus entirely on Detective Sergeant Barbara Havers - Lynley is absent entirely. On leave from New Scotland Yard, Havers takes something of a busman's holiday, following her Pakistani neighbors to a seaside resort in Essex where a family member has been killed. Racial tensions are high in the community, and Havers finds her loyalties tested as she negotiates between her friends and the local authorities.

I expected to miss Lynley more than I did. The character of Barbara Havers carried the weight of the book very nicely.
Profile Image for Thomas Stroemquist.
1,467 reviews122 followers
October 2, 2015
One of my favorites in the series. Havers is this time around the main character and Lynley largely away. The case Barbara gets on her hands has ties into the Asian community of a certain town, where the leaders have a very complicated relationship with the rest of the community and an even more troublesome and infected one with the local authorities. A situation not easily navigated, and Barbara Havers does make waves when she comes.
Profile Image for aPriL does feral sometimes .
1,865 reviews421 followers
November 7, 2014
“Where is the man who has the power and skill
to stem the torrent of a woman’s will?
For if she will she will, you may depend on’t;
and if she won’t she won’t so there’s an end on’t.”

from the pillar erected on the Mount in the Dane John Field in Canterbury

The above is how the ninth Elizabeth George book in the Inspector Lynley/Detective Havers police mysteries begins. While it eventually becomes clear why George used this quote, the novel is about so much more.

Usually, there is a strong current of soap opera drama in these mysteries, but not this time. I think this is the most serious, and perhaps the best, book in the series so far. In any case, I thought it very strong in exploring the theme of prejudice in four areas: sex, race, disfiguring handicaps and religion. Frankly, I was surprised at the level of expertise and even-handed depths with which George explored these areas of her theme.

In the previous book, Lynley’s proposal of marriage to Helen was accepted. He is on his honeymoon and he does not make an appearance in this story. Instead, we readers are treated to a Barbara Havers on her own, supposed on a medical leave recovering from a horrible beating she underwent a few weeks before. Predictably, her boredom leads her to volunteer for an investigation into a murder.

Balford-le-Nez, a seaside town, has seen better days. It is becoming more rundown every year as fewer and fewer tourists come to visit. The business owners who depend on the tourists are trying to put aside most of their personal and competitive animosities and form plans to revive the village’s attractions. Particularly a local old-wealth family, led by matriarch Agatha Shaw, has ideas for a proper English resort without any foreign influences. However, a park has been constructed in the shabby town and it carries a Pakistani name which has inflamed her suspicions and hatred of all things Pakistan. She particularly despises the heavily shrouded women which she occasionally encounters. However, despite the tensions between both races who share the streets of the tourist town, and the accusations of police brutality from activist Muhannad Malik, local rich son of Abram Malik, factory producer of sauces, violence between Pakistanis and whites is minimal.

However, the discovery of a body of a man from Pakistan, Haytham Querashi, in one of the huts on the beach soon brings out into the open the local bigotry and hatreds between the whites and English Pakistanis who have held onto their traditional religious strictures and culture. An antagonistic Muhannad Malik is pushing the local police to find the killer who he believes is a white man. Because of his pugnacious attitudes, the town’s top police boss, Detective Chief Inspector Emily Barlow, may lose her job. She is having a great deal of trouble with her boss, Donald Ferguson, who thinks women are inferior at police work. Havers becomes involved because her neighbor, Taymullarh Azhar, is asked by Malik to help prove the murderer must be white and to use his legal acumen to stop the police from trying to pin the murder on a Pakistani. Havers becomes curious and decides to rent a hotel room in the town to check out the murder. She learns that Barlow is in charge of the case only after she arrives in town. They knew each other at the beginning of their police careers, but Barlow has achieved promotions much more rapidly than Barbara.

The plot thickens when the clues appear to show Querashi was on the beach for a prostitute, and there was evidence he had been meeting a particular one regularly since he arrived in England. Since the purpose of Querashi’s visit was to marry Malik’s sister Sahlah in an arranged marriage, Malik’s family comes under the spotlight of the investigation. Did they murder him for it? Or did the secret lover?

Azhar, to everyone’s surprise, was asked by Malik to help because he actually is related to the Malik family. However, the relationship was severed because of supposed Islamic transgressions committed by Azhar. The crisis brought on by the murder caused Muhanned Malik to contact Azhar, but Azhar’s uncle, factory owner Sayyid Malik, will not even speak directly to Azhar after reluctantly allowing him into his house. Sayyid refuses to recognize Azhar as being alive, and forbids his wife Wardah, daughter Sahlah and daughter-in-law Yumn to see Azhar as a living person.

Rachel Lynn Winfield, who works in a jewelry shop owned by her mother, was born with a birth defect which has severely distorted her face. Despite operations, her face is so disfigured people cannot look at her without discomfort. Sahlah is her best and only friend, but Rachel cannot convince Sahlah to forget about marrying Querashi and move in with her into an apartment. She is very pleased when he turns up dead, thinking Sahlah will now leave her family, but to her shock Sahlah still refuses her offer. Sahlah loves her family and her religion. However, she has a terrible secret, and all she wants from Rachel is a helpful solution to her problem so she can stay with her family. Rachel is determined to force Sahlah to see things differently so they can live together in freedom.

Havers quickly discovers that somehow Querashi’s presence upset a lot of people for a lot of reasons, and she is not so quick to pick out a suspect as her friend Emily who wants to pin the murder on a Pakistan suspect.

This truly is an interesting case.
Profile Image for Denisse.
258 reviews16 followers
June 7, 2022

Por desgracia, no podemos dictar la edad en que aprendemos lo mucho que la vida va a negarnos .”

Tenía ganas de leer esta autora y aunque tengo en mi lista el número uno de esta serie, decidí leer el correspondiente al número nueve, que es el único libro físico que pude conseguir.

Al parecer esta serie corresponde al inspector Lynley, el cual no aparece como personaje principal sino su ayudante la sargento Barbara, quien me gustó, pues es sagaz y con buen instinto.

Todo inicia cuando se comete un asesinato en contra de un paquistaní llamado Haytham Querashi. Los vecinos de Barbara deciden pasarse un tiempo en la misma ciudad de la tragedia, por lo que ella va investigar y se suma al equipo que encabeza su amiga Emily.

Muchos creen que se trata de un crimen racial, de algún inglés hacia la comunidad paquistaní, por lo que los ánimos están muy exaltados.

Es un thriller que no aburre a pesar de ser un libro bastante grueso. Sin embargo, creo que tiene muchísimos personajes que no vienen al caso y que confunden más al lector.

En cuanto al final, me costo creer que fuese un asesino sin unos motivos bastantes fuertes para cometer el crimen.

Nos autoconvencemos de creer en toda clase de falsedades cuando nuestros intereses nos guían. Después, cuando acontece lo peor, reflexionamos sobre nuestros actos.
Profile Image for Marguerite Kaye.
Author 227 books326 followers
August 12, 2013
An Inspector Lynley where Inspector Lynley made no appearance, and actually this one was all the better for it. Barbara Havers gets to take centre stage, and I enjoyed that - I had got really very bored with the Lynley/Helen relationship and the whole thing about Deborah and her husband not being able to have children was getting me down, so it was refreshing. There were all the usual things in this that annoy me - principally some of the writing and tone is VERY patronising - but there were all the usual things in it that keep brining me back. I had a think about what they were, since I rarely give this series more than 3 stars, so for what it's worth:

- good, solid, old-fashioned police crime stories with no blood and guts and lots of detective work
- interesting crimes, that are gritty, don't shy away from controversial subjects
- the politics of policing
- alternative points of view. I like this in particular, because you get to see inside the minds of the various suspects and other characters, you get to have one up on the police at various points, and yet you are still kept guessing. Which leads me to the last point
- really well-written whodunnits that tax your mind.

So I will be reading the next one soon, and I'm really hoping that poor Barbara doesn't have the book thrown at her after the ending of this one, though I suspect she will.
Profile Image for Greg.
1,771 reviews18 followers
April 17, 2021
1997-It appears we are at the mid-point, or at least a big turning point, in this very good series.
CAST - 5 stars: Sergeant Barbara Havers keeps this series fascinating, and here she is front and center, Detective Inspector Thomas Lynley is mostly out of sight. Emily Barlow, or "Barlow the Beast" heads an investigation: she's a beauty, Havers is not. The two shall collide, but only after Barlow gives Havers some make-up tips. Rather, Barlow attempts to put Havers in her place. For contrast, the beautiful Sahlah Malik (single, from wealthy family) combats with her unattractive sister-in-law, the extremely fertile Yumn (married to Sahlah's handsome big-shot brother, Muhannad, who has a BIG SECRET!). Agatha Shaw pictures herself as the ruler of small-town Balford-le-Nez and attempts to snare her ultra-liberal son, Theo (who has a BIG SECRET!), from the clutches of his liberal attitude towards the Muslim population. Haytham Querashi (Pakastani and has a REALLY BIG SECRET) arrives to marry Sahlah via an arranged marriage. Rachel is Sahlah's best friend but Rachel is from the poor side of town. Natch, Rachel and Sahlah have a BIG SECRET! And what about Cliff Hegarty (the maker of adult jigsaw puzzles) and his live-in lover Gerry Devitt (construction worker)? Well, that's really not a secret at all, they just happen to be a couple who fight a lot, like most couples. The various classes, religions, sexual preferences, etc., are thrown up in the air by George and held aloft for 600+ pages.
ATMOSPHERE -5: A surprisingly ugly sex scene between Muhannad and his wife Yumn kicks the sexual tension into high gear and it is this thick tension that drives the story. Who, exactly, is doing who? (Oh, about everyone...) There are religious conflicts. Capitalism conflicts. Old vs. New conflicts. Class conflicts. All set in this once-lovely village by the sea. There is even a decaying amusement park, beach huts, cliffs called 'The Nez' with a rotting staircase and more. Okay, so who is the "flaming dung-puncher"? (I've never heard that one.) Or the "bumboy". Or the "fag"? Who is doing who in the restroom at the town square? (This is one busy restroom, I can tell you!)
CRIME - 4: The central murder doesn't seem like much at first, then we learn the body had to have been moved. Maybe during high-tide as their are no footprints. But the beach is not accessible at high tide. There are boats though...and that mysterious set of stairs to the beach, and those remnants of war...and that restroom with lots of just regular "blokes".
INVESTIGATION - 4: Barlow is a tease, Havers will have none of that. But Havers, whose sex life is practically zero, can see so much more than Barlow. How they see events, the questions they ask of suspects, is fascinating.
RESOLUTION - 4: You'll probably see it coming about half-way through. That's fine, because what you won't see at first are all the various sexual goings-on. Homosexuality and perhaps an abortion in the Muslim community? Arranged marriages that are at heart rotten? Will there at last be a confrontation between a sister and her sister-in-law? Will Havers get to a gym?
SUMMARY - 4.4: First of all, this is a very good murder mystery. Red herrings everywhere among many "secrets". A line I loved, from page 581 of 613, is "Go. GO. He's heading into the fog." 'He' is indeed, and there is more to that fog than just fog. I found this to be the best in the series, so far. My favorite murder mystery, "The Name of the Rose", is thick with religious overtones, and so is "Deception on His Mind". Many questions are raised, a number go unanswered. And here, George avoids a trait I don't much like: children in danger. On to the 10th in this series.
Profile Image for Kathy Davie.
4,657 reviews702 followers
August 4, 2014
Ninth in the Inspector Lynley mystery series set in contemporary London.

The Story
Tommy and Helen have gotten married and are off on their honeymoon while Barbara has been ordered to take time off to heal after her injuries in In the Presence of the Enemy. Lord, taking time off. All that time with nothing to do but think so it's no surprise that Barbara jumps at the opportunity to follow Azhar and Hadiyyah when they must leave London to help with a family emergency.

The Characters
I think Emily does Barbara a world of good in that Barbara finds that she is a good copper—even if she doesn't yet realize it herself and that Emily is "not all that". I'm curious as to where Barbara's friendship with Azhar and Hadiyyah will go after this.

Emily is one of those insufferable women who can't tolerate anyone impinging on her turf although I can't blame her for her attitude toward her super…what an ass! I think part of what makes her so unappealing to me is how she allows her prejudices to dictate the case. Nor do I do like her personal principles although I do admire her pursuit of life.

Akram Malik is the father of Muhannad and Sahlah as well as the owner of a condiments factory and a member of the town council. I may not like his plans for Sahlah, but he is a very decent man and proud of his efforts in integrating into the English community.

He's between a rock and a hard place in that he does want to be as English as possible while maintaining his Muslim faith at the factory and in his family, particularly in his family. This is not fair on his daughter, Sahlah, as she is exposed to so much more freedom in England and yet she is expected to accept the traditional role of a daughter with her arranged marriage and restricted movements.

Muhannad is a disgusting twerp whom I'd love to strangle while his wife, Yumn, is even more disgusting. How the family tolerates her I do not know. He's one of those agitators who use and abuse a situation manipulating it beyond what it really is. He is such a hypocrite towards his family. Actually, he rather deserves his wife! Yumn. What a piece of work! I'm not surprised her father was so eager to pay someone to take her off his hands!

Haytham Querashi is both to be admired and despised for his treatment of Sahlah although his religion does force it on both of them. If anything, their situation is an excellent example of why tolerance is so very important in the world.

I'm impressed with Theodore's ability to withstand Agatha's single-minded insatiable ego although it is definitely tempered by his cowardice towards Sahlah. For myself, I would cheerfully strangle Agatha, the old cow.

Then there's Rachel and Connie Winfield. Poor Rachel. Burdened by her facial features and a mother who never left her teens, Rachel's confidence and emotional development have not evolved. I do like how Barbara approaches this in the story, a very growing moment for both.

I'm impressed with Theodore's ability to withstand Agatha's single-minded insatiable ego although it is definitely tempered by his cowardice towards Sahlah.

Lastly, there's Gerry and Cliff. Cliff's actions are a catalyst against Haytham. And I can only hope that Gerry figures out what Cliff is up to as he deserves so much better than this shallow limpet!

My Take
It's a complex story with many others' stories interweaving within Barbara's. Prejudice and racism rear their ugly, ugly heads and murdering greed steps in to boost an overweening ego.

I hate that it leaves us hanging wondering what happens with Sahlah and Theodore. I do love the peek we get inside Muslim culture…it's not a look at the religion per se but how the religion shapes their lives and outlooks.

The Cover
I love the cover if only because it showcases Sahlah's jewelry work. It makes me long for my own studio again.
Profile Image for Bob.
54 reviews
July 10, 2017
Way too long for what it was. Where was the editor?
Profile Image for Aleshanee.
1,392 reviews93 followers
June 2, 2018
Wieder unglaublich spannend und interessant, wie schon "damals" die Problematik der Vorurteile gegenüber Ausländern mit eingebaut wurde!
Profile Image for Azita Rassi.
566 reviews24 followers
May 1, 2020
Definitely the best in the series up until now. Can we please stick with Barbara and do away with Deborah, Helen, and St. James? Their absence in this volume made the book soooo much better :D I like Lynley as a detective, but as a love-struck helpless guy or as a character grappling with issues in his childhood, he is insufferable. Barbara is the best of them by far.
Profile Image for Tittirossa.
975 reviews214 followers
April 18, 2018
Uno dei più belli della George, con Havers protagonista (mentre Linley è in viaggio di nozze) di un bel plot anglo-pakistano.
L'abilità della George è nell'intrecciare storie "parallele" al plot di base, con una passione, una cura dei dettagli, anche psicologici, fuori dal comune.
Profile Image for Shannon.
962 reviews29 followers
January 30, 2023
Another good addition to the series, though pretty much completely without Lynley. My only complaints about the book were that it was a bit too long/slow at times, and I think this was the easiest to figure out so far. It was pretty darn clear from fairly early on who had committed the murder and it made the detectives look like idiots that they couldn't see what was so obvious. Otherwise, a great read.
Profile Image for Rajish Maharaj.
131 reviews7 followers
July 9, 2022
This was a real page turner forbme, especially the latter half of the book. I'm ecstatic to see babara get to be a fous of the novel. Ot had all the unforseen twists and turns that i like.

That said im not satisfied with the ending. Malick got away amd salah got no justice for what he did to her. Gladly yum got her just deserts. I wanted some closure with salah and with cleo as well. Would have made me,happier but alas we cant have it all.

Rating of 4 stars
5,200 reviews53 followers
February 7, 2016
#9 in the Detective Inspector Thomas Lynley & Detective Sergeant Barbara Havers series.

Detective Inspector Thomas Lynley & Detective Sergeant Barbara Havers series - Barbara Havers, who's on leave from New Scotland Yard to recuperate from injuries suffered in In the Presence of the Enemy (1996) while Detective Inspector Thomas Lynley and Helen Clyde honeymoon. When her neighbors, microbiologist Taymullah Azhar and his endearing young daughter, Hadiyyah, leave London to visit his family in Balford-le-Nez on the Essex coast, Havers follows them - out of boredom, curiosity and a little suspicion. She's also concerned for Hadiyyah, aware of riots that followed the recent murder of a Pakistani immigrant in Balford. In Balford, Chief Detective Inspector Emily Barlow asks Havers to help investigate the crime that sparked those riots. The murdered man, Haytham Querashi, was engaged to the daughter of Azhar's wealthy uncle, the sister of a hot-headed Muslim activist named Muhannad. Although the killing has racial overtones, other motives arise - love, jealousy, sexuality, religion, greed.

Profile Image for Deb .
1,520 reviews17 followers
October 19, 2012
Barbara Havers shines in this installment. Lynley makes his presence known only in Barbara's actions as she channels his comments in her head. Mr. Azar, Barbara's London neighbor, is called away to a small seaside town for a family emergency. Barbara follows when she discovers that the family emergency involves a potentially explosive situation revolving around racial prejudice. She fears that Azar is in over her head. She discovers that the DCI is her former classmate and friend who seconds her into investigative service. Barbara hides her acquaintanceship with Azar which ultimately gets her in some trouble, but nothing like the trouble her doggedness in doing a job right gets her into. This novel explores the rising tension between native Britons and a growing immigrant population. It also explores Barbara's growing attraction to her Pakistani neighbor. This one was very hard to put down.
Profile Image for Laura Wallace.
186 reviews91 followers
February 20, 2009
I like Elizabeth George, but I LOVE Detective Barbara Havers. I think I've found the mystery series for me. George offers me all the thrills and sensation I crave*, plus three-dimensional characters and smart plots for the gray matter. And aside from the genre stuff, it's got this whole fascinating narrative about recognizing prejudice in your friends and neighbors that mirrors the exposition of the mystery itself. And George even acknowledges intersectionality!

A note on the audio version: the plethora of voices and accents really gave Donada Peters a chance to exercise her voice acting chops, and I think she does an excellent job of making the characters distinguishable but not too cartoony.

*catfights, catfights with guns, secret homosexuals, secret pregnancies, culture clashes, boat chases, forbidden love, crazy old people...
Profile Image for Nancy.
1,202 reviews44 followers
August 10, 2017
Donada Peters really made this Audio CD. The book has characters from various English social classes plus several from Pakistan and Germany so there were plenty of challenges on accent and delivery. Ms. Peters' reading made it easy to know which character was speaking. There were also long interior monologues which where were essential to understanding the actions of each character. Peters did a great job with there too.

Of course Ms. Peters had some good material to work with. I've always enjoyed the Elizabeth George books that featured Barbara Havers. (I have been quite disappointed in some Lynley ones.) In this book Barbara is central. The plot line has red herrings galore and Sargent Havers has a personal connection that leads to keeping a few secrets herself. This both furthers and complicates the investigation of a murder.
Profile Image for Sallie.
529 reviews
January 8, 2011
My mind is in conflict about this book. On one hand, I stayed up until 0336 to finish it, but all the characters and twists and turns in it were annoying, as was George's need to constantly tells us the characters who were German said "haff" "vish" "vant" etc in an aside after their dialogue until I was ready to throw the book across the room. Either put the accent in their actual dialogue or forget it all together. Or once maybe, but all the time???? I haven't read many of George's mysteries, and if they're all 700+ pages, I won't be reading many more. I've given it 3 stars only because it did keep my interest to find out "whodunnit".
Profile Image for Moonkiszt.
1,991 reviews208 followers
February 16, 2021
A gifted book was my first foray into Inspector Lynley/Havers stories on paper - had seen them on TV, but had never read them. It landed me in the middle of the series, but beggars can't be chosers, right?

I didn't realize how long, convoluted and littered with red herrings it would be, but that is what makes a good mystery mostly, so I was game for all the "and now for something completely SEEMINGLY unrelated. . ." aspects. And some of them were. Completely unrelated. And some were key, and that is the rub. . .

For an introduction, this was good, and I will now try and start at the beginning and launch a new series. Oh how I love a new series!

Profile Image for Rebecca.
431 reviews12 followers
November 20, 2019
This book fills in many details about what happened to DS Barbara Havers and why in later books she is seen as under the scrutiny of her superiors and possibly about to lose her job. This book shows her supposed to be on holiday and getting involved in a case instead. She is helping out an old schoolmate on a case and finds that she has a different style in investigating a case and questions whether her schoolmate is operating through a desire to find the truth or simply to find a suspect to pin a murder on. It all comes to a head as they both are chasing a suspect.
Profile Image for Amy.
1,504 reviews6 followers
June 6, 2011
In a previous book I complained because there was very little Havers. This book is all Havers and no Lynley, and I have no complaint! I guess I know who my favorite character is in the series. Very interesting plot that involves Barbara's neighbors, who appeared in the last book (and maybe the one before too?). Such a great series.
Profile Image for Rick.
304 reviews
June 21, 2017
A good story. I wanted a few more pages to resolve the charges Emily brought against Barbara. I also wanted some closure on several characters: Rachel, Sahlah, Theo, and Cliff. Their stories were left incomplete.
Profile Image for Em.
284 reviews5 followers
September 16, 2017
As I closed this book I thought 'this may be the best mystery I've ever read'. And then as I typed it in my excel spreadsheet where I've logged all the books I've read since 1992, long before I've done so here, all of a sudden the name of the book finished on it's own, thanks to Microsoft. Sure enough, I had read this book once before eight years ago, but I didn't remember it at all, not even a tiny bit as I read it this week. And this strikes me oddly since I'm not one to forget the plots of the books I've read. And then I realized I read this the first time within six months of my father's death. I realized that I probably skim read this the first time because I was reading then not for enjoyment, but only for diversion and that sometimes I'd read a long passage, get to the end of it and realize I hadn't comprehended a bit of it because in my grief my mind had tracked off somewhere else as I was supposedly reading, but in reality was just flipping pages.

This book is very substantial and complex so I'm sure I didn't take in more than the top plot points, which I jotted in my book journal at the time to demonstrate that I'd read it. It's either that or the first flashing neon signpost of Alzheimer's.

The fact this is an 'Inspector Lynley novel in which Lynley never appears is one of the reasons it may not be typical, but since I like Barbara Havers, I found this one to be an interesting twist on a police mystery tale. Havers' neighbor, a professor originally from Pakistan and his 8 yr-old daughter head out for a trip to the sea, and Barbara learns that a Pakistani had been killed in the town where the neighbor Taymullah Azhar has gone to help a family member in an emergency. Havers, still on leave from her injuries of the previous case, and because her Guv, Lynley, is on his honeymoon, decides she will go rest up at the same seaside locale and keep the little girl Hadiyyah company and keep her father out of trouble. Then she learns a woman, Emily Barlow with whom she trained, is now the DCI in charge of the case. Havers thinks she can shadow Emily and learn from her, and protect Azhar and his daughter at the same time. Barlow think's Barb is a godsend, an extra detective for the investigation and someone to liaison with the Pakistani community to keep a racial powder-keg from going 'BOOM'. For the longest time it seems the title of George's book has the pronoun all wrong because it seems that Haver's is the one steeped in deception. When Havers is first called to liaison with Azhar and his cousin Muhannad Malik on the death of Haytham Querashi who was set to become Malik's brother-in-law it all seems like it will explode in Haver's face but Azhar keeps mum. Haver's never tells Barlow she know's Azhar, and she tells Azhar that Barlow is an old friend who asked for her help with this case, not mentioning that was after she just showed up there.

But then when they start to try to investigate the crime there a so many men practicing some level of deception. The victim's own deception of passing as straight in an arranged marriage with Sallah Malik, when he was actively homosexual, and the deception of his lover, waiting for him when he died, who was hiding his dalliance with Querashi from his own long-term lover. Or that Querashi knew things about other's deceptions, that of his fiancee who had been secretly seeing the grandson Theo of the grand dame of the seaside resort town Agatha Shaw, who means to remake the crumbling town with her own grand plans for her immortality and put the Paki's in their place, chief among them Sallah's father Akram, who won her city counsel seat when she had a stroke.

They chase down one angle after another to try to solve Querashi's death, Barlow is convinced it is Muhannad because of how much he's breathing down her neck to solve the case, what better way to divert suspicion? Havers' isn't so sure because there are just as many anglos with strong motives and shaky alibis, Theo Shaw, the gay lovers, a punk fired by Querashi. They start to find other potential motives tied to potential smugglers tied to Hamburg, Germany, just when it all seems like a complete snarling bundle of knots, something breaks and the ending is a wild ride. One that teaches Haver's some deep lessons about herself and her idols as she is the one who actually figures who committed the murder of Haytham Querashi. Brilliant.

Written from first read in 2009:

I finished my first E. George novel a year ago last night. I enjoy her Inspector Lynley series but this one didn't feature Lynley at all, he was honeymooning and Havers is still on leave from being injured in a previous case. Her neighbor, a Pakistani immigrant professor has gone to a seaside resort she had frequented in her childhood to assist family caught up in a murder investigation with potential hate-crime overtones. Barb follow's him and his daughter there and when she learns an old friend, Emily Barlow is heading the investigation offers herself up, gratis, without revealing she knows Azhar, who's acting as defacto legal advisor to the Malik family, his cousins. The murdered man was to marry the Malik daughter, and her brother Muhannad is agitating for swift justice because he believes it's racially motivated. Barlow is convinced that he's pushing an English killer to cover for his own involvement in the crime, but she's got some serious racial hatred happening. Havers meanwhile pursues all leads; the gay angle, the ruffian angle, the rich, other man angle and the real possibility that the killer could have been a woman since it was staged as an accidental fall. In my mind that was the stronger motivation because eliminating the bridegroom before the wedding prevented it taking place, and there was a crazy, selfish friend to the bride who seemed intent on keeping Sallah from marrying. EG is still very wordy, but I was so caught up in Havers' perspective that it rushed by. And there were some loose threads left hang in the end pertaining to Havers fate when she returns to London, but then life is like that, right?
Profile Image for AngryGreyCat.
1,503 reviews36 followers
November 18, 2021
Deception on His Mind is book 9 in the Inspector Lynley series. Although the series is Inspector Lynley, he does not figure in this installment of the series. This is entirely about DI Barbara Havers, his partner. Barbara is on leave to recover from injuries but decides to follow her neighbor to Balford-el-Nez rather than rest and relax. She gets involved in a case that has all the hallmarks of a hate crime and tensions are running high in the local community. The case has a well written cast of characters with red herrings and clues to follow. A very good installment that allows Havers to carry the book on her own.
Profile Image for Eric_W.
1,918 reviews350 followers
November 30, 2008
Elizabeth George has to be one of the best mystery writers practicing today, and ironically, as an American writing about British settings and characters. Sgt. Barbara Havers plays a dominant role in this book that rivals Ruth Rendell’s Simissola in its treatment of racial issues. Barbara is convalescing from a particularly severe beating when she learns that her neighbor Taymullah Azar, a Pakistani university professor, and his daughter have left for Balfordle- Nez to assist with a family matter related to the murder of a fellow Pakistani who was to be married to Sahlah, daughter of his cousin Muhammad Malik. The Maliks are wealthy owners of a famous mustard factory. Afraid that Taymullah will be in over his head with the local constabulary and racial tensions in the town, Barbara decides to follow along and volunteer her services in the investigation. The local DCI (Detective Chief Inspector) is Emily Barlow, a friend of Barbara’s, and soon Barbara and Azar are swept into competing roles as they are drafted to act as spokesmen for their respective groups. Muhammad is convinced the police will cover up any Anglo killer and try to pin the murder on a local Pakistani. The dreaded “Pakis” are hated by most of the local community, and by the local DCI, as Barbara soon realizes to her dismay. George does a great job of building suspense, dealing up a host of possible suspects, and the book simmers with racial unrest. George shows racial perspectives from all sides and the cultural differences leading to assorted suspicions are nicely portrayed. I listened to this book on tape on assorted weekends. It’s very ably read by Donada Peters, who is rapidly becoming one of my favorite readers, and I must admit to mowing a little more than necessary in order to complete a chapter. The ending regretfully leaves us hanging for George’s next book, In Pursuit of a Proper Sinner to discover what will happen to Barbara following her extraordinary actions in the boat chase at the end of the novel. But I’m already revealing too much. You will not be disappointed.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
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