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Well-Schooled in Murder is a fascinating and critical look at social class, the traditions of English public schools and the problems with having a "stiff upper lip." What is more remarkable is that those themes are developed in the context of an unusually complex and rewarding murder mystery. This book barely misses becoming a classic in detective fiction and will greatly reward fans of Elizabeth George's series about Thomas Lynley and Barbara Havers and those who do not know the novels.
This is the third book in the series. You can read this book as a stand-alone, but it will work better for you if you first read A Great Deliverance and Payment in Blood.
As the story opens, Lynley is still reeling from having destroyed his relationship with Lady Helen. She's gone off to Greece and sends him occasional noncommittal post cards. Lynley is burying himself in his work. That's making life hard on Barbara Havers whose parents are not doing well.
John Corntel, an old school chum from Eton, approaches Lynley for unofficial assistance in locating a missing student who was under the chum's care. The situation soon changes when the student is found in an unlikely place dead, nude and having been tortured. Lynley takes on the case to avoid having free time to mourn his lost love. A delayed autopsy means that Lynley has to develop a sense of means, motive and opportunity without knowing the facts. The various "suspects" and "witnesses" do their best to mislead him, adhering to a code of silence that protects their most delicate secrets as well.
As the case evolves, it's not a pretty picture that is revealed behind the "privileged" walls of Bredgar Chambers.
There's little to complain about with this book and much to praise. There's a powerful subplot about the marriage of Simon Allcourt-St. James that nicely develops Simon and his wife as characters. You also get a deep look into several other marriages and relationships. Elizabeth George seems to be saying that as much as we crave intimacy with others; such intimacy will probably bring us more pain than pleasure or happiness. That's a pretty downbeat message, and one that keeps the book from working quite as well as it could. The lesson is that we have to perfect ourselves with another perfected person who shares a mutual attraction before we can achieve happy intimacy. Even then, if we are not candid with one another . . . all bets are off!
Ms. George is equally suspicious of physical attraction. It only seems to lead to no good in this book.
For fans of taut, challenging plotting, this book has few peers. It's as though Ms. George wanted to move away from writing novels that contain mysteries into writing mysteries that reveal the darkest secrets of the human condition. I defy any normal reader to sense the outcome of this book in all of its dimensions until right before the end.
This book will haunt you the most if you read it on a dark and stormy night when unhappiness is poisoning your sleep.
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on 13 May 2017
Excellent.
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on 9 July 2001
Another excellent book from Elizabeth George. As Deborah struggles to recover from her miscarriage (precipitated by aborting Lynley's child many years earlier) she comes across the body of a child in a graveyard and... the story goes from there! As usual the characters and places are more-than-life-like, the plot is entralling and the book is un-put-downable!
There are so many strands of plot to keep you interested! We watch Lynley and Havers struggle to come to terms with the apparently inexplicable nature of the case, and despair as Lynley's preoccupation makes him insensitive to the breakdown of his best friends' marriage - he nearly loses their friendship when he places extra strain upon them by sharing the demands of his case.
If you like crime novels and enjoy excellent writing then you will love this book!
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on 14 June 2000
Set in a second-rate boys public school, the novel captures the feeling of an instituion that's hardly moved on since the days of "Tom Brown's School days" where not to "sneak" on fellow pupils is the main code, even it means covering details for a murder. As the investigation progresses Lynley & Havers uncover many different secrets - but which are red herrings and which are linked with young Matthews death ? Mixed with this the detectives are also dealing with problems in their personal lives. It keeps you guessing and coming up with different solutions - but I never guessed before the end.
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on 10 July 2010
Lynley and Havers investigate the murder of a boarding school pupil whose naked body is found miles away from the school.

The murder mystery is well-thought out, the pupils are characterised well and George takes enough blind turns to keep you guessing. Some food for thought here.

Unfortunately it's when George tackles her regulars that it starts to go wrong. I personally found the marital difficulties of Simon and Deborah tedious along with Lynley's pining for Lady Helen. The problem for me, is that when George starts to describe their feelings and emotional states, I can hear the London Philharmonic start to tune up, and it feels like a 1940's romantic epic. I'm also irritated that she seems to think that working-class people are dirty and don't wash. Lynley, Lady Helen, etc are always well groomed, immaculate. Everyone else wears filthy clothes and smell. Where she scores is her depiction of Havers' bleak family life. There's some restraint here and it works well.

All in all, though I did enjoy this book, oddly perhaps because of its faults, rather than inspite of them. The murder mystery has more resonance than the heartaches of Lynley and his friends.
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Well-Schooled in Murder is a fascinating and critical look at social class, the traditions of English public schools and the problems with having a "stiff upper lip." What is more remarkable is that those themes are developed in the context of an unusually complex and rewarding murder mystery. This book barely misses becoming a classic in detective fiction and will greatly reward fans of Elizabeth George's series about Thomas Lynley and Barbara Havers and those who do not know the novels.
This is the third book in the series. You can read this book as a stand-alone, but it will work better for you if you first read A Great Deliverance and Payment in Blood.
As the story opens, Lynley is still reeling from having destroyed his relationship with Lady Helen. She's gone off to Greece and sends him occasional noncommittal post cards. Lynley is burying himself in his work. That's making life hard on Barbara Havers whose parents are not doing well.
John Corntel, an old school chum from Eton, approaches Lynley for unofficial assistance in locating a missing student who was under the chum's care. The situation soon changes when the student is found in an unlikely place dead, nude and having been tortured. Lynley takes on the case to avoid having free time to mourn his lost love. A delayed autopsy means that Lynley has to develop a sense of means, motive and opportunity without knowing the facts. The various "suspects" and "witnesses" do their best to mislead him, adhering to a code of silence that protects their most delicate secrets as well.
As the case evolves, it's not a pretty picture that is revealed behind the "privileged" walls of Bredgar Chambers.
There's little to complain about with this book and much to praise. There's a powerful subplot about the marriage of Simon Allcourt-St. James that nicely develops Simon and his wife as characters. You also get a deep look into several other marriages and relationships. Elizabeth George seems to be saying that as much as we crave intimacy with others; such intimacy will probably bring us more pain than pleasure or happiness. That's a pretty downbeat message, and one that keeps the book from working quite as well as it could. The lesson is that we have to perfect ourselves with another perfected person who shares a mutual attraction before we can achieve happy intimacy. Even then, if we are not candid with one another . . . all bets are off!
Ms. George is equally suspicious of physical attraction. It only seems to lead to no good in this book.
For fans of taut, challenging plotting, this book has few peers. It's as though Ms. George wanted to move away from writing novels that contain mysteries into writing mysteries that reveal the darkest secrets of the human condition. I defy any normal reader to sense the outcome of this book in all of its dimensions until right before the end.
This book will haunt you the most if you read it on a dark and stormy night when unhappiness is poisoning your sleep.
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on 1 March 2012
Am enjoying this series and racing through them whilst at home ill. Story and characters good but this is the worst edited (or unedited) Kindle book I have read. Full of typos, spelling mistakes, wrong words. It completely ruined the experience of reading and has made me wary of purchasing other KIndle books.What is going on? If this were a book I had bought I would be sending it back and asking for a refund. Come on Amazon you can do better than this. Those of us choosing to read on Kindle need well audited material too.
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on 30 November 2004
Contrary to the televised version, the book is interesting!
It contains a lot more intelligence, afterthought and suspense than ever a ninety minute film could, especially the very poorly casted, minimalized so called "Lynley Mysteries".

George appeals to me, in spite of three of the main characters being nobles, which- as many reviewers have pointed out- is irrelevant to the plot itself, but gives the stories some background. If you're a person easily bored or lost by complex intrigues, rich personae, and everyday life events,then you should stick to more action-based literature. George's writing is more of a slow process, with fewer silly americanized ideas on policing(like blazing guns and hillbilly cops) than most. She belongs, alongside Robinson, Walters, Rankin and a few more to a new genre, Intellectual Crime Fiction.

Bravo Mrs George!
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on 12 May 2014
This novel is well written with enough leads, plots and twists to keep the reader guessing until the end. The main subject is of sexual abuse, torture and bullying of younger boys by the senior ones, with a culture of 'honour' that encourages evil to perpetuate and a paedophile teacher who is a former school friend of Inspector Lynley. While we cannot read our 21st century sensibilities into a novel written 25 years ago, I find it distasteful that Lynley protects his teacher/friend at the expense of the children he teaches and the child whose abuse and torture lay behind the murder becomes forgotten and overlooked in George's conclusions. Even in 1990 there were laws and principles to safeguard children and to find these ignored, flouted and disregarded by all of the adult characters, and therefore by the author, is a sad indictment of an otherwise notable writer. George seems to imply that such behaviour is condoned by the police/, teachers and Governors in this novel because it is generational, 'character building' or otherwise acceptable in our public schools. This might be 'only' a novel, but when dealing with such sensitive issues, more care needs to have been taken to ensure the reader is not left feeling disgusted, angry and disappointed.
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on 3 April 2015
At a lesser public school in Sussex a junior boy, 12 years old, is murdered and his body is found many miles away in the Chilterns; he had been tortured. Inspector Lynley and Sergeant Havers of Scotland Yard become the investigating officers. This pair are from totally different social backgrounds and their work is often clouded by this but here they work together in equal standing in good co-operation - she even drives his silver Bentley! The other area of interest is the interviewing technique of Lynley. He relentlessly puts questions, and then rephrases them until he draws out the information that he is seeking. He does not sound frustrated (though he is) and he does not explain his line of questioning (which may seem unrelated to the crime). There is a good field for enquiries into the world of adolescent behaviour and relationships between staff and students. Not surprisingly the answers are from an unexpected direction. It is a very good story which never loses its interest and progression.
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