Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Careless in Red (Reviewed June 2008)

Careless in Red, Elizabeth George (2008)[****1/2] Julie and I wait with bated breath for each new Elizabeth George mystery to come out -- if you are not familiar with her series, you may know the BBC version on TV-- I think it's called the Inspector Lynley Mysteries (the few I've seen are not nearly as good as the books). We envy folks who love British detective fiction and don't know this series yet, because there are around 15 of them so far, and imagine getting to read those one after another, without having to wait a couple of years for the next installment! These books are great for several reasons. The writing is exceptionally good for its genre (where, I will admit, the bar is not particularly high). The characters are complex and nuanced, and George generally gets psychology and motivation right. The mysteries themselves generally leave me feeling very satisfied in way most mysteries don't. But the real reason to read Elizabeth George is the on-going story line of her central characters: Inspector Tommy Lynley, an aristocrat who has defied family expectations to join New Scotland Yard; his partner, the dumpy, disheveled Detective Barbara Havers, who comes from a working class background; and Helen, Deborah and Simon, who play various roles at various times in the series. The on-going, intertwining story of these characters is what keeps me coming back for more (a little like a soap opera, I admit), and it is the reason one MUST read this series from the beginning, with A Great Deliverance. It is also the reason that it makes little sense for me to tell you much about Careless in Red -- almost anything I could say would be a spoiler if you haven't read the previous books. I don't think this her very best book, but it was very satisfying nonetheless, and definitely worth the read if you're an EG fan.

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