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Playing for the Ashes Paperback – April 15, 2008


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 688 pages
  • Publisher: Bantam (April 15, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0553385496
  • ISBN-13: 978-0553385496
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.3 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (109 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #60,206 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

British crime writer George's seventh book featuring detectives Thomas Lynley and Barbara Havers spent seven weeks on PW's bestseller list.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

George is a gifted writer who spins rich, colorful, mesmerizing, multifaceted stories that combine an absorbing mystery with provocative insights into her characters' innermost thoughts and emotions. Her latest story once again features Detective Inspector Thomas Lynley and his sidekick, Detective Sergeant Barbara Havers. Chalk and cheese when it comes to background, philosophy, style, and personality, Lynley and Havers easily forget their differences when a tough homicide needs solving--take, for example, the asphyxiation death of renowned, all-England cricket player Kenneth Fleming. The duo's inquiries turn up some disturbing facts about the cricket star. Not only was his personal life a shambles, but he had a very odd relationship with a former teacher. The case is more byzantine than any Lynley and Havers have encountered in their years as a crack homicide team, and even when they've identified Fleming's killer, the file isn't really closed. As usual, there's more to think about in George's story than simply whodunit. Readers will be astounded by the ease with which she weaves complex relationships and provocative moral, emotional, and ethical questions into the compelling plot. Another tour de force from one of today's best storytellers. Emily Melton --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

More About the Author

Elizabeth George is the New York Times bestselling author of fourteen novels of psychological suspense, one book of nonfiction, and two short-story collections. Her work has been honored with the Anthony and Agatha awards, the Grand Prix de LittÉrature PoliciÈre, and the MIMI, Germany's prestigious prize for suspense fiction. She lives in Washington State.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Barbara A. Lee on May 2, 2009
Format: Paperback
Seventh in the Inspector Lynley Mystery Series. A famous cricket player dies in a suspicious fire, and New Scotland Yard's investigation is complicated by the professional jealousy of the local constabulary. The suspects include the dead man's not-quite-ex-wife, his angry teen-age son, his lover (who has conveniently gone missing), her former lover, and at least three other people whose motives and relationships are too complex to be so neatly summarized. What these diverse characters have in common is their distastefulness-they are by far the most unpleasant group of people assembled in any of Elizabeth George's novels, and most of them have the foulest mouths, as well. In a departure from the style of the previous Inspector Lynley mysteries, George uses first-person narrative for some of the chapters, in the form of a journal kept by one of the characters. Although this device turns out to have a purpose, the narrator is an extremely unsympathetic figure who tries the reader's patience before the strands of the plot are connected. Meanwhile, Inspector Lynley clashes with his superiors and has new misunderstandings with Lady Helen Clyde, while Sergeant Barbara Havers moves into a new apartment. There are a great many details that suggest this installment could have used a little more careful editing. For example, the issues that Lynley and Helen quarrel about seem forced and artificial, and it is very hard to believe that a detective sergeant's salary doesn't allow for a new refrigerator. In sum, a disappointing downturn from the quality of the rest of the series.
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22 of 25 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on February 25, 2004
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Numerous reviews have detailed the virtues of this work. I especially agree with the praise for George's integration of multiple plot lines and her employment of a "diary" element in the voice of Olivia.
I do have some reservations about Olivia, however. Though we may be persuaded to grant her a fair amount of native intelligence, it is hard to think she would have been a devoted student. So her level of articulateness frequently seems implausible.
The "romance" of Lynley and Lady Helen ranges from cloying to tedious. Helen describes herself as "utterly useless," and proceeds to do nothing to dispel this impression. (Elsewhere in the series she is depicted more favorably.) The best Lynley can muster is the assurance that she "distracts" him from the demands of his occupation. Some compliment from an ardent lover! On the other hand, Havers is surely George's most inspired character creation and does much to leaven the proceedings.
Despite its flaws, Playing For the Ashes is absorbing and mostly quite well written.
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28 of 34 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 4, 2000
Format: Mass Market Paperback
No one plots as well as Elizabeth George and her books are worth every penny for that alone. With the execption of Barbara Havers, though, I just don't like her characters and find them more than a little unbelievable. (I can usually overlook this, however, because the basic story is so darn good.) With this book, however, Ms. George veers into the wierd and the absurd. Olivia was so very disgusting that I could barely finish the book despite the engaging plot. George did do a fabulous job of intertwining the two stories but Olivia was just too much of a freak to feel any empathy for her or for her plight. Frankly, I wished she'd just drop dead. Olivia, that is. I'm probably one of the least prudish persons in the world, but there are things I prefer not to read about in an otherwise first-rate mystery. The softening of Olivia would have done a lot to improve this book and render it a true classic. I wish Ms. George would leave the sexually explicit themes to others, but I'll keep reading--her plots are simply the best.
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15 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on May 11, 2001
Format: Mass Market Paperback
George has made the error of focusing our attentions upon a non-recurring character, who is neither sympathetic nor interesting. One half of the story is consumed with a subplot that is only obliquely related to the mystery. If George wants to develop central non-recurring characters, she would do better to take as an example her character Elena in "For the Sake of Elena". I hope that her subsequent books do not repeat this error.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on February 23, 1999
Format: Mass Market Paperback
The opening scene of Playing for the Ashes is a masterwork. The first of Elizabeth George's detective series I ever read, this book's opening riveted me to the pages from start to finish. George masterfully interlocks the plot twists and involves you immediately in the characters. You care for them. Empathise and sympathise with them. And quickly begin your own journey of trying to solve the puzzle. George is a master, however, and the answer is not so easily determined. Which makes the book all that more challenging and enjoyable. But, beware! This book was so good, I soon bought and devoured every prior and subsequent Elizabeth George mystery.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Diana E. Smith on November 4, 1999
Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
This is simply the best mystery novel I have ever read, and I have read thousands of them over the years, including all books by this author. The character development is beautifully done, and the story is so well told that I almost couldn't bear to finish it. Well done!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 29, 1998
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Before reading this book, I had read all the previous books in the series, and loved them. As I began reading this novel, I was at first a little put-off by the sudden change in the author's style. With this novel, Ms. George had a adopted a new method of narration...the simultaneous telling of two stories. Both stories are completely compelling. However, the character Olivia quickly became one of the most vivid and well defined characters I've ever encountered in a novel of this type. The telling of her story left me stunned. On occasion I've had to remind myself that Olivia is a character in a novel and not a real person. Her impact on me was that great. In my opinion, the challenge now facing Ms. George is attempting to surpass with future novels, the heights she's attained with this one. I'm actually reluctant to read the subsequent novels. Playing for the Ashes has left some very big shoes to fill.
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