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Careless in Red Hardcover – May 6, 2008

3.3 out of 5 stars 315 customer reviews
Book 15 of 19 in the Inspector Lynley Series

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. At the start of bestseller George's stellar new suspense novel, the grieving Thomas Lynley, a Scotland Yard detective who left the force after the murder of his pregnant wife, Helen, in With No One as Witness (2005), is filling his days with a long trek in his native Cornwall. During his ramble, Lynley stumbles on the body of teenager Santo Kerne, who apparently fell from a cliff onto some rocks, though it soon becomes evident that someone tampered with Kerne's climbing gear. As the first on the scene, Lynley himself comes under suspicion, despite his lack of history with the victim, by the investigating officer, the capable but crusty Det. Insp. Bea Hannaford. Lynley fittingly plays a secondary role in the homicide inquiry as he continues to struggle to find a reason for living after his devastating loss. The plausible resolution of the crime leaves enough ambiguity to satisfy readers who prefer psychologically sophisticated plots and motivations. 10-city author tour. (May)
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From Booklist

You can’t keep a good detective down. George has put longtime series hero Detective Superintendent Thomas Lynley of New Scotland Yard through quite a bit lately: in her last novel, With No One as Witness (2005), Lynley’s much-loved wife was shot to death on the street, reducing him to a grief-stricken shell and leading to his resignation from the Yard. How to resurrect him? George uses a pretty klunky (but familiar to all mystery fans) deus ex machina device. Lynley has embarked on a walk along the coastal path in Cornwall; his rationale is that if he doesn’t keep moving, despair will overtake him. Sure enough, on day 43 of his walk, he spots, far below, what seems to his trained eye to be the vivid red and crumpled shape of a man who has plunged to his death. The machine creaks into place, with Lynley (whose walk has made him appear like a homeless man) being treated as a suspect, then with grudging respect from the local, bumbling constabulary, and finally as someone his old associate Barbara Havers of New Scotland Yard seeks to restore to his post. Despite the obvious restoration device, George delivers, once again, a mystery imbued with psychological suspense and in-depth characterization. --Connie Fletcher

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 544 pages
  • Publisher: Harper; 1 edition (May 6, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061160873
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061160875
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.4 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (315 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,093,447 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
I've been a fan of Elizabeth George since 1988, when I read her first novel, "A Great Deliverance." Unfortunately, she has now and then produced a book that I've found rather tedious, largely it is heavily populated with secondary characters who have been of little real interest to me. These books, in my opinion, have included "In Pursuit of the Proper Sinner" and "A Place of Hiding."

Sadly, "Careless in Red" falls into that category. The premise is that Thomas Lynley, in dazed mourning after the violent death of his wife, Lady Helen, just weeks earlier, and having resigned (he thinks) from New Scotland Yard, is hiking the Cornish coastline when he stumbles across the murder of a young man. Naturally, he is recruited by the investigating officer to assist, particularly by looking into the background of a female suspect, while around him swirl intrigue and conflict involving the family of the dead man and several other people associated with him. As is usual in a George novel, these many characters have secrets -- some decades-old -- along with sexual/marital problems, parent/child problems, hatreds, resentments, and neuroses, which are examined at great length.

Normally, George's large casts of dysfunctional characters add depth and psychological interest. Here, however, the cast had me rolling my eyes in boredom. Perhaps I've read too many George books, so that her approach and self-consciously very studied prose style have begun to pall; or perhaps the surfing/rock climbing theme just didn't excite me; or perhaps I felt that the setting, a relatively isolated area of Cornwall, felt a little claustrophobic. (I tend to prefer George's London-based novels over those that take us to rural locations.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
After my disappointment with Elizabeth George's previous two novels, I was a bit concerned when the next book in this ongoing series, Careless in Red was announced. But in having gamely read her series, and knowing that sometimes an author will go off on a tangent, I decided to give this one a chance. If it failed, well, I could always go back to the earlier novels of the series, and leave it at that.

Thomas Lynley, aristocrat and Scotland Yard detective, has retreated to the wilds of the Cornish coast to cope with the loss of his beloved wife and unborn child. He has deliberately cut himself off from everyone he knows, heading off to a future that even he can't comprehend. But the real world is about to intrude and shatter his illusions.

A rock climber has fallen to his death in a remote cove, and unfortunately for Lynley, he's the one who discovers the body. Almost at the same time, the owner of the nearby cottage, Daidre Trahair, returns as he is breaking into her home, and together they report the death. The downside to all of this is that it presents both of them as potential subjects.

For Santo Kerne has been murdered, and as with a good thriller, there's plenty of potential criminals here. Santo was an energetic young surfer, mad for women, and still able to exercise a great deal of charm -- enough to where it's just odd that anyone would kill him.

And the local police chief, DI Bea Hannaford, has plenty of problems of her own. From an ex-husband who is also a police officer, to a teenage son that fill of fire and rebellion, and an assistant who makes mere incompetence look good -- she's not a happy woman. Especially when she finds out who Lynley is.

The victim's family are also not much of a treat either.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Detective Superintendent Thomas Lynley has suffered a huge personal loss, and is walking the rugged cliffs of Cornwall to come to terms with it. "Careless in Red" is not only the story of his struggle with grief, it is the story of several families and their similar struggles, with a focus on the understandable (but vain) effort of parents to control the lives of their children.

In the course of his walk, Lynley finds the body of young Santo Kerne at the bottom of the cliff he had been climbing, and as the investigation of the death develops, the superintendent is drawn into it at the behest of local police Detective Inspector Bea Hannaford, who is having family problems of her own. DS Barbara Havers makes an appearance--and a somewhat unusual partner for DI Hannaford.

Cornwall and its surfing world are well handled in this new Lynley novel. (One minor complaint is that some terms of climbing are not explained.) While not all the characters are believable (voluptuous Dellen Kerne and her son Santo are among those who test that limit), most are fully rounded and lifelike; and several are very amusing. (I really savored DI Hannaford and company.) Some of the descriptive passages and dialogues are overwritten--meant, I think, to be poetic, but seeming instead over-literary. The resolution of the murder is not particularly satisfying, not because of the identity of the murderer, but because of the final mechanics of the solution.

I found the novel very enjoyable, and if you are a Lynley and Havers fan, I think you will too. The complications of parenthood are nicely explored, and the bittersweet consequences of love and loss, Lynley's and others, will draw you in.
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