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Elena Weaver was a surprise to anyone meeting her for the first time. In her clingy dresses and dangling earrings she exuded a sexuality at odds with the innocence projected by the unicorn posters on her walls. While her embittered mother fretted about her welfare from her home in London, in Cambridge—where Elena was a student at St. Stephen's College—her father and his second wife each had their own very different image of the girl. As for Elena, she lived a life of casual and intense physical and emotional relationships, with scores to settle and goals to achieve—until someone, lying in wait along the route she ran every morning, bludgeoned her to death.
Unwilling to turn the killing over to the local police, the university calls in New Scotland Yard. Thus, Detective Inspector Thomas Lynley and his partner, Detective Sergeant Barbara Havers, enter the rarefied world of Cambridge University, where academic gowns often hide murderous intentions.
For both officers, the true identity of Elena Weaver proves elusive. Each relationship the girl left behind casts new light both on Elena and on those people who appeared to know her best—from an unsavory Swedish-born Shakespearean professor to the brooding head of the Deaf Students Union.
What's more, Elena's father, a Cambridge professor under consideration for a prestigious post, is a man with his own dark secrets. While his past sins make him neurotically dedicated to Elena and blind to her blacker side, present demons drive him toward betrayal.
Detective Inspector Thomas Lynley of New Scotland Yard investigates murder at Cambridge University as he continues his suit for the love of Lady Helen in George's ( A Suitable Vengeance ) latest well-crafted mystery. The high-born Lynley and his sergeant, Barbara Havers, whose personal dilemmas revolve around choosing adequate care for her increasingly senile mother, are sent to advise the Cambridge constabulary after student Elena Weaver, a long-distance runner and daughter of highly respected university history professor Anthony Weaver, is found battered to death near a running path. As the investigation reveals that Elena, who was deaf, was not at all the innocent naif her doting father imagined, Lynley comes to understand Lady Helen's deep-rooted questions about their relationship and their individual independence. Another murder occurs and assorted extracurricular passions among prominent academics are bared; George also explores such issues as whether deafness is a cultural stigma or a genuine handicap, the nature of family identity and betrayal, and the imperatives of the creative temperament. While elements of the plot are somewhat stretched, George's story never fails to engage. 50,000 first printing; $50,000 ad/promo .