Elizabeth George takes the cool Scotland Yard Inspector Thomas Lynley and turns his world upside down. For unknown and possibly public relations reasons, Scotland Yard sends Lynley outside of his jurisdiction to Scotland to take over an investigation after a fetching playwright is found murdered in her bed.
But, the guest in the adjoining room is Lynley's much beloved Lady Helen Clyde. To Lynley's chagrin, it turns out that Lady Helen has been sharing her boudoir. Naturally, she must be interrogated. How will Lynley bear up?
Lynley is clearly distraught by dealing with the situation and is soon making big mistakes. How will that affect the investigation? Well, it's not good . . . but fortunately Detective Sergeant Barbara Havers is on duty with Lynley.
Although this is a mystery, the book succeeds more as an investigation into the English class system and its weaknesses. With Barbara Havers standing in for every person in her role as skeptical seeker after truth, we see the rotten underpinnings of having a hereditary elite in place. How far has the rot spread? Well, you'll just have to read the book to find out.
The mystery itself takes some tangled turns that will provide much entertainment.
I graded the book down a bit. Some scenes didn't resonate with my impressions of this character from the last book. I thought that Ms. George had Lynley's head spinning a bit more than seems likely from what we learned about him in A Great Deliverance.
The book is a very important one in the series though. Frequent references in future books are made to the events in this one. You will enrich your enjoyment of future books if you read Payment in Blood.