Mystery a letdown

BELIEVING THE LIE<br><b>Elizabeth George<br></b><i>Hodder & Stoughton
BELIEVING THE LIE<br><b>Elizabeth George<br></b><i>Hodder & Stoughton
Elizabeth George goes to great lengths to make her Inspector Lynley mysteries entertaining.

In the 17th one in the series, Believing The Lie (Hodder & Stoughton), she almost notched 600 pages and I suppose that some of her ardent fans will revel in that bulk and its complexities. For me this one was a tedious read that had far too many strands.

Lynley is placed in an unofficial and undercover sort of role in the Lake District. His faithful sidekick Barbara Havers is also working for him back in London so it can be termed a detective story, but there is precious little crime in this book. It turned out to be more a psychological study of a fictional dysfunctional family and the tense relationships and problems among a large cast of characters. That study includes the personal lives of the police (Lynley and his girlfriends) as well as their friends and suspects.

It annoyed me that not until page 117 did Lynley get into his job in Cumbria. His target (discreet inquiries into whether a death was murder or a tragic accident) turns out eventually to be only a minor matter in the mass of words.

The sub-plots and the lives of the people entangled in them, which are mysteries of a kind - but psychological ones - are the main focus.

This also allows Lynley further scope to examine himself as well as delve into the dark side of the human soul in general. But I have previously found more interest in adventures that included more action, excitement and the arresting of villains.

 - Geoff Adams is a former Otago Daily Times editor.



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