To this day, the low, thin wail of an infant can be heard in Keldale's lush green valleys. Three hundred years ago, as legend goes, the frightened Yorkshire villagers smothered a crying babe in Keldale Abbey, where they'd hidden to escape the ravages of Cromwell's raiders.
Now into Keldale's pastoral web of old houses and older secrets comes Scotland Yard Inspector Thomas Lynley, the eighth earl of Asherton. Along with the redoubtable Detective Sergeant Barbara Havers, Lynley has been sent to solve a savage murder that has stunned the peaceful countryside. For fat, unlovely Roberta Teys has been found in her best dress, an axe in her lap, seated in the old stone barn beside her father's headless corpse. Her first and last words were "I did it. And I'm not sorry."
Yet as Lynley and Havers wind their way through Keldale's dark labyrinth of secret scandals and appalling crimes, they uncover a shattering series of revelations that will reverberate through this tranquil English valley—and in their own lives as well.
In her debut novel, George too often plays to the gallery with characterizations broad enough to border on caricature. The legendharking back to violent events in Cromwell's timethat surrounds local Keldale Abbey pales in comparison to a modern-day crime committed in this quiet corner of Yorkshire, England: Roberta Teys, a silent, obese adolescent, is accused of killing her church-going father with an axe. The detectives sent by Scotland Yard to investigate are a mismatched pair. Inspector Thomas Lynley is smooth, attractive and utterly upper-class; "stubby, sturdy'' detective-sergeant Barbara Havers, conscious of her plain appearance and lower-class origins, considers Lynley a ``sodding little fop.'' Thrown together, they weigh the general conviction in the villagethat Roberta could not possibly have wielded the bloody axeagainst mounting evidence that damns the now catatonic girl. In sifting slowly through the ashes of the past, the detectives find enough horrific skeletons in every closet to lead them to a climax unexpectedly loaded with fire and fury. While Lynley seems rather bland despite emotion roiling beneath the surface, it is Havers' painful secrets and driving rage that encourage one to overlook decidedly uneven passages in this essentially intriguing psychological thriller. 35,000 first printing; $50,000 ad/promo.
Hauntingly brought cruel realities of what people are capable of doing and the twisted lies people conjure up to justify their aberrant behaviors.
By contrast, the Inspector champions compassion and although not perfect himself, grows in his own personal life, during the experience of solving the case. I’ve found my next Alex Cross (I know, I know, not equal, but a hero nonetheless).
I originally read this book 30 years ago. I’ve always wanted to come back and read the early books in the series and I was not disappointed! The plotting, the characterization, the setting and the pace are so remarkable for a first book. I guarantee you’ll like this one!
This book took me just two days to finish. The writing is superb and the characters are amazing. There is no one perfect character here, even the 'good' guys have flaws. That is a book I can fall in love with. I am drawn into stories by characters. If I believe in them, if I 'buy' into them, you can put them through anything and I will ride along.
Thomas Lynley, Barbara Havers, Lady Helen Clyde were all so well developed that I couldn't stay away. Barbara is frustrating, but I felt such compassion for her. I was very happy that Lynley was able to see into her true nature and their relationship as it develops was so compelling and can you imagine that? A man and a woman having a compelling relationship without sex? How refreshing! I loved it. Deborah was a bit of an annoyance for me, but I think George meant to lean that way (who knows right?)
The mystery wasn't such a mystery, it's not that difficult to figure out (don't worry I won't spoil it) but that didn't detract from the story, you are still compelled to see it through. What a great start, can't wait to read more about these people.