A review of Believing the Lie, by Elizabeth George
@@@@ (4 out of 5)
I’ve enjoyed most of Elizabeth George’s 16 previous novels about the life and career of Thomas Lynley, an hereditary earl from Cornwall who has risen to the post of Detective Inspector in Scotland Yard. Like all of George’s characters, Lynley is a finely drawn and three-dimensional — likeable, without being the sort of person you’d expect to pal around with. Her settings, usually picturesque corners of rural England, are engaging in their own right. George clearly does her homework — she’s American, after all — so that her books are popular in the UK, not just the U.S.
Maybe what I most enjoy about Elizabeth George’s writing is the utter unpredictability of her stories. She consciously avoids working in the old Agatha Christie mode of murder tales. For example, consider this passage from Believing the Lie:
“For an utterly mad moment Lynley thought the woman was actually confessing to murdering her husband’s nephew. The setting, after all, was perfect for it, in the best tradition of more than one hundred years of tea-in-the-vicarage and murder-in-the-library paperback novels sold in railway stations. He couldn’t imagine why she might be confessing, but he’d also never been able to understand why the characters in those novels sat quietyly in the drawing room or the sitting room or the library while a detective laid out all the clues leading to the guilt of one of them. No one ever demanded a solicitor in the midst of the detective’s maundering. He’d never been able to sort that one out.”
So, if you pick up a copy of Believing the Lie, prepare yourself for a rollercoaster of a story, resplendent with more than its share of surprises. When Inspector Lynley is despatched to Cumbria to look into the murder of the nephew of a rich and powerful man, you might expect a straightforward tale of crime and punishment. What you’ll get instead is a complex tale of intrigue, adultery, family secrets, betrayal, and a host of other themes involving a wealthy manufacturing family, a tabloid reporter, a stunning Argentine woman, Lynley’s friends Deborah and Simon, and, of course, Lynley’s interior dialogue about his murdered wife. You’ll also witness the untimely deaths of two people. But don’t expect anything to go the way you think it will.