Inspector Thomas Lynley, 8th Earl of Asherton, feels some trepidation as he introduces his bride-to-be to his mother at the ancestral home of Howenstow in Cornwall. But Lynley's private concerns are soon forgotten as the brutal murder of a local journalist requires him to focus on the professional, rather than the personal. The investigation tears apart powerful ties of love and friendship, shattering the tranquillity of the picturesque Cornish community and exposing a long-buried family secret. Its consequences irrevocably alter the course of Thomas Lynley's life.
At the heart of George's ( Payment in Blood ) darkly vibrant modern English mystery lie love, requited and not; and injuries of the kind that only intimates--parents, siblings, lovers, close friends--or perhaps one's own treacherous ego can inflict. Thomas Lynley, eighth earl of Asherton and a detective inspector of New Scotland Yard, brings his fiancee Deborah Cotton to Cornwall to meet his widowed mother. Accompanying them are Lynley's best friend, forensic scientist Simon St. James; St. James's sister Sidney; her boyfriend Justin Brooke; Lady Helen Clyde, St. James's partner and former lover; and Deborah's father, St. James's valet. Unexpected events of the weekend include a violent fight between Sidney and Justin, the appearance of Lynley's cocaine-addicted brother, the brutal murder of the village newspaper editor, and Justin's death on the cliffs. Lynley and St. James attempt to trace motives and alibis among guests and villagers while each is deeply enmeshed in personal pain: Lynley's over his estrangement from his mother since his father's death many years before, and St. James's over his unspoken--and, he believes, unspeakable--love for Deborah. The resolution of the accumulating murders involves different kinds of illegal drugs and centers around the activities of a young London woman whose true identity surprises everyone. Even more intricate than George's deftly handled plot, however, are the paths etched by her anguished, memorable characters, as they struggle with the secrets of their hearts.