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This Body of Death: An Inspector Lynley Novel Hardcover – April 20, 2010

3.7 out of 5 stars 355 customer reviews
Book 16 of 19 in the Inspector Lynley Series

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Bestseller George's richly rewarding 16th novel to feature Det. Insp. Thomas Lynley (after Careless in Red) offers an intricate plot that will satisfy even jaded fans of psychological suspense. Aggressively career-minded Isabelle Ardery, the new acting superintendent of London's Metropolitan Police, boldly manages to lure Lynley, who's been grieving over his wife's murder, back from Cornwall to look into a murder case. The body of Jemima Hastings, a young woman recently relocated from Hampshire, has turned up in a London cemetery. With suspects in both locales and numerous leads to follow and interviews to conduct, Ardery succeeds in raising the hackles of Det. Sgt. Barbara Havers, Det. Insp. John Stewart, and other members of the investigating team. George tantalizes with glimpses of a horrific earlier murder case; showcases Lynley at his shrewdest, most diplomatic best; and confounds readers with a complex array of evidence, motives, and possible solutions. 6-city author tour. (May)
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From Booklist

Rarely can a conventional mystery sustain itself over nearly 650 pages. Some P. D. James novels have been almost that long and have succeeded in maintaining suspense and holding the reader, but this latest from George—acclaimed crime writer and winner of the Anthony Award, Agatha Award, and France’s Le Grand Prix de Littérature Policière—fails on both counts. There is a too-leisurely feel throughout, a sense that the author is luxuriating in extra space, and that’s not a good fit for suspense. Detective Inspector Lynley returns, still grieving the deaths of his wife and unborn child in Cornwall, but moving forward, assisting New Scotland Yard in an investigation involving a young woman whose body was found in a London cemetery. George intersects this plotline with a real-life case, the Bulger kidnapping, involving the harrowing kidnapping and murder of a toddler by three boys. Reimagining this case, with all the details a novelist can bring to bear, seems in bad taste at best. Except for Inspector Lynley, whose character is always intriguing, the two plots limp along, making little headway. In addition, the new love interest that George provides for Lynley seems contrived. This very bloated effort will interest only George’s longtime fans. --Connie Fletcher
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Product Details

  • Series: Inspector Lynley
  • Hardcover: 692 pages
  • Publisher: Harper; 1st edition (April 20, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061160881
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061160882
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.6 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.9 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (355 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #574,283 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Clarissa's Blog VINE VOICE on April 22, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
After the hugely disappointing "What Came Before He Shot Her" and a less disappointing but still quite boring "Careless in Red," this new book of the Lynley-Havers series is a welcome return to the components that have made George so popular with so many readers.

I will not retell the plot of the book but I would like to mention some of the things that make me like this novel, even though I definitely do not consider it one of George's best works. For one, this novel is set for the most part in London. In my opinion, London-based novels by George are a lot better than the ones set elsewhere. Barbara Havers, Winston Nkata, and Thomas Lynley are all present here. Lynley is a bit boring in this book but Havers never disappoints. Her relationship with her neighbors keeps developing in interesting ways.

There are some very interesting characters in this novel. The mystery the novel revolves around interested me a lot. You really get into the characters and begin to care about what happened. There are unexpected twists of the plot, and the character psychology is spot on.

On the negative side, George still doesn't give up on the type of social criticism that she attempted (and failed) to deliver in "What Came Before He Shot Her." This makes the entrance into the book a little plodding. So brace yourself for the first 40 pages or so, they are somewhat dry and boring. Don't give up, though, it does get a lot better after the introductory part.

Overall, George seems well on the way to the kind of writing that made her such a fantastic mystery writer and that she sadly abandoned in the past couple of years. This book isn't perfect yet, but it has most of the ingredients that we have come to love in George's novels.
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Format: Hardcover
In spite of my dislike of her last novel, I purchased and read "This Body of Death" immediately. I am pleased to say that this a a great improvement and reminds me why I have liked so much of what she has written over the years. It is not, however, a great mystery novel. Why? I think the biggest "problem" with the book is tone. The story seems to be told by Elizabeth George coolly looking down from a mountain top. Somehow all passion is missing from this tale, engaging as it is. It is as if everything and everyone in the novel is given equal weight.

The many characters are interesting, yet they are all somehow flat. One never gets inside of any of their heads. One sees them from the outside. There is no main character. Lynley is merely one of many. Havers is merely one of many. Deborah, thank goodness, makes only a brief albeit important appearance. The puppet master moves her pawns around the board. Somehow they don't "live" on the page.

The device of interspersing the sociologist's report on a long-ago child murder was puzzling even though the reader is aware that it will eventually be linked with the main story. Without giving away any plot details, it does link and adds insight into why the story unfolded as it did and why some characters acted as they did. Yet, there is an awful lot of it and it casts a long miserable shadow. I kept wondering if it was all going to tie into the sad and, for many of us, unforgivable murder of Helen. I do wish that George would give heavy-handed sociology a rest. Sometimes she makes me long for the simplicity and black-and-white worldview of Agatha Christie. That sin, misery and stupidity roll down through the years and beget more of the same is not a surprise to anyone who thinks about these things--and mystery readers very often do.
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Format: Hardcover
This book has received the full spectrum of reviewers' impressions, and I will not add to the confusion by attempting to reduce it. I will make a sole observation and criticism.

The igniting event of "This Body of Death" is a toddler's abduction, torture-for-amusement, and murder by three pre-teen sociopathic slackers, described in horrifying, heartbreaking, and unnecessarily leisurely and graphic detail through the device of a sociopathologic analysis of the criminals by a PhD social worker. This dissertation is presented in installments as a prelude and a dozen or so interludes throughout the main story, which revolves around an entirely different murder. The chronology of this crime in relation to the main action is not made clear until the end, nor is its relevance to the plot made explicit until then. Savvy readers will twig to the connection when the ultimate disposition of the child's murderers is revealed, and sophisticated readers who ponder the connection may guess it before then if they think outside the box of linear chronology. Unsophisticated readers like me will smack their foreheads when they realize how much earlier they should have recognized the obvious. It's an entertaining and effective device, perfectly capturing the tone of plodding and precious social-workspeak.

The criticism is that this episode is quite obviously based on the actual abduction, torture, and murder of a toddler named James Bulger in England in 1993. This crime, part of it caught on CCTV videotape, and the ensuing investigation, trial, and sentencing, caused a worldwide sensation for months, as well an intense controversy over the appropriate means of handling preteen murderers.
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