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4.2 out of 5 stars
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4.2 out of 5 stars
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After the last couple of books in this series, George returns to the Havers/Lynley partnership, now turned into a threesome with Winston Nkata.

When two bodies are found in the middle of a stone circle on a deserted moor, Lynley is called in. But the dead girl's father is an ex-undercover policeman and a previous mentor of Lynley himself and so, as in other books, his objectivity is challenged.

Lots of this book is excellent: the intricate plot-line, the immersion in the lives of the characters, the Lynley/Havers/Nkata dynamic. But George slips up a bit too: in particular, the relationships between fathers and children (one of the themes of the book) are frequently unbelievable. I don't want to go into details which would spoil the book for new readers but the conversations between Nicola and her father in London are completely unbelievable (not to mention her demonstration!); and the same with the King-Ryder relationship.

Helen, now married to Lynley, is as irritating as ever (any woman who can seriously spend days agonising over the wallpaper really needs to find something more useful to do) and her own pondering of her relationship with her father just too pat and fake.

But despite some quibbles, this is an engrossing read with a convoluted plot and excellent characters. If you like your thrillers with lots of action then this might well prove irritatingly bloated; otherwise this is another great escapist novel from George, though not her best.
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on 29 March 2017
I must say that I object to those readers (see above) who write reviews complaining about Lady Helen Clyde and DC Barbara Havers. I think those two are typical women, and totally lovable and adorable just as they are. They both make me laugh, and even cry sometimes. And I'm half in love with Tommy Lindley. No more complaints please, unless you have a real grievance. Patricia Bjørnstad, author of "A Quiet Life in Bedlam," and "Blue-Eyed Arabs of the North". Stavanger, Norway
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After the last couple of books in this series, George returns to the Havers/Lynley partnership, now turned into a threesome with Winston Nkata.

When two bodies are found in the middle of a stone circle on a deserted moor, Lynley is called in. But the dead girl's father is an ex-undercover policeman and a previous mentor of Lynley himself and so, as in other books, his objectivity is challenged.

Lots of this book is excellent: the intricate plot-line, the immersion in the lives of the characters, the Lynley/Havers/Nkata dynamic. But George slips up a bit too: in particular, the relationships between fathers and children (one of the themes of the book) are frequently unbelievable. I don't want to go into details which would spoil the book for new readers but the conversations between Nicola and her father in London are completely unbelievable (not to mention her demonstration!); and the same with the King-Ryder relationship.

Helen, now married to Lynley, is as irritating as ever (any woman who can seriously spend days agonising over the wallpaper really needs to find something more useful to do) and her own pondering of her relationship with her father just too pat and fake.

But despite some quibbles, this is an engrossing read with a convoluted plot and excellent characters. If you like your thrillers with lots of action then this might well prove irritatingly bloated; otherwise this is another great escapist novel from George, though not her best.
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VINE VOICEon 24 June 2000
Apart from a rather dubious acceptance by Lynley at one stage that really doesn't ring true to his character, this is an excellent book and one of Elizabeth George's best. However, frustrating though it may be, I really would recommend starting at the beginning with "A Great Deliverance" and working through the series chronologically. Although each novel can be satisfying, the real insights come from observing the major characters' lives develop. So - be patient and sensible, start at the beginning, and by the time you reach this episode you'll really be hooked.
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on 11 November 1999
In Pusuit of The proper sinner represents return to form for George, although she runs the risk at this point of being over fond of her hero, just as Sayers was of Peter Wimsey. Lynley spends rather too much of his time contemplating his navel rather than contemplating the crime, but the novel is good nonetheless; her last book missed his quirky Englishness (as we all have butlers who love musicals and a panchent for partners who love us not in the begnning but fall headlong in the end) and great suits. Lynley is a little overindulged but the book has some real strengths.
Firstly it has a cracking plot and is perhaps the toughest puzzle she has written. Secondly it has more three dimensional women of the kind George excels at. Laslty it is familiar without being irritating as deception on his mind was. I hope that George takes Lynley further, as leaving him out of her last novel and relying on the charicatured and doomed Havers was a mistake. A new partner who isnt a working class woman or a black sterotypical gangster would be of benefit now.
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on 28 July 1999
Elizabeth George had out done herself in her latest edition of Detective Inspector Thomas Lynley and Barbara Havers. You can't skip a word or a page, while reading this excellent example of mystery prose. You'll want to read out loud some of the wonderful descriptive twists, Ms.George gives to her great wealth of characters. The usual group are present, St.John, Deborah(without her whimpering), newly married Helen and the everpresent Lynley. The plot starts churning at the opening of a new musical, and to the pace only increases with each turn of the page. I couldn't wait for release in USA, ordered through amazon.uk and worth every penny and then some. You'll reread this one many times learning more about Lynley(not so brooding) and Havers (learning dispite herself). Follow the plot closely, the author will trip you up...it's a great experience!!
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on 25 August 1999
I am not so enthusiastic as the previous three reviewers. The concept of Lord Lynley and Barbara Havers as adversaries in a working-life filled with problems is beginning to be tiresome. It has lost its freshness and in this book tends to be overshadowing the plot. Ms George goes well into the English upper class - it reminds strongly of Lord Peter Wimsey's 30-ies. (Very interesting that was.) But isn't that a bit obsolete in our time? The plot is intricately construed except that it builds on a coincidence, somebody happening to be listening to something at the start of the story. And there are too many ways, paths and streets to follow in this maze. Maybe Ms George should take a pause in writing for a while or change her concept entirely - or maybe I should take a pause from reading her novels. Either.
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on 28 December 1999
This is a well-written but long novel, with good plot development. It is not until reasonably late that the murderer is known with any certainty - up until that time, any number of the book's subjects remain contenders.
There are a few convenient circumstances/coincidences which had me wondering - e.g. the lead detective "finds" a crucial piece of evidence in the hallway of the hotel he is staying at and it hasn't been planted there! George also tends, on occasion, to go for the big word when its simpler equivalents would have done just as well. Many, however, may regard this as a reasonable display of wordsmith skills.
George is not a Goddard, either in writing-style or plot development, but she has done enough here for me to search out her earlier efforts.
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on 4 August 2000
I have ploughed through all the Lynley titles, as the plots are quite ingenious, but the characterisations of the main protagonists are utterly unbelievable! I also hoped that Ms George's tin ear for the English vernacular would improve, alas, it has not. The books read as though they have been translated from a foreign language by someone who, equally, does not have English as their first language. Who refers to people being "chopped"? Getting the chop, yes, but that means sacked, terminated etc. Even little things such as character's names are incongruously inappropriate. A good editor should surely pick up these inconsistencies. Sadly, I have found it impossible to concentrate on the (admittedly) convoluted plotting as a result.
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on 31 January 2002
into Elizabeth George. I had been encouraged to read her books previously, but after TVs demolition of Inspector Linley and Co (How come in the books he has blonde hair?)I was apprehensive. What a mistake! I could not put this down, yes it is long, but every sentence keeps you gripped. I had no idea who the killer was until the moment you are supposed to find out and, other than Robert Goddard, so many authers fail to keep the killers id anonymous. I wanted to scream at Barbara Havers to toe the line, but I'm glad she had the courage of her convictions! I can't wait for the next one. Highly recommended.
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