Tuesday, July 31, 2012
In Pursuit of the Proper Sinner - Elizabeth George
(out of 17) of the Inspector Lynley series. New Author? : Yes. Overall Rating : 7*/10.
In Derbyshire, at the Nine Sisters Henge (see book cover), the bodies of a pair of hikers are discovered. Curiously, they were killed with different weapons and in somewhat different locations. The young man died of multiple stab wounds, and within the circle of stones. The young woman died from a blow to the head, about 100 yards outside the henge.
Curiously, they didn't appear to know each other. So, one killer or two? Connected or not? What are the motives, and where are the murder weapons?
What's To Like...
In Pursuit of the Proper Sinner is a police procedural, and that's probably my favorite sub-genre of Crime Fiction. The twist here is that there are three detectives, each strong-willed, and each with tunnel vision about his/her pet theory. Egos clash, especially between Lynley and his former police partner, Barbara Havers. I found this a bit overdone, but I suspect that's because I'm not reading the series in order.
I like the setting - the moors of rural England. Elizabeth George provides a handy map of the local area so you can find your way around. The suspects and motives are varied and interesting; so are the cops. It apparently is a lot easier to get a search warrant and rough up a suspect while interrogating him in the UK, compared to here.
There is some clunkiness. A critical piece of clothing is left in a hotel hallway, while a similar article is dumped in a trash bin. The discovery of the former leads to the latter. Why not just dump both in the tip? But for the most part, the investigation unfolds logically. Our heroes search for clues, run down false leads, and question suspects, all the while making slow but steady progress.
Kewlest New Word...
Rebarbative : repulsive, abhorrent, irritating. (Rebarbative is the "R" word in the Abecedarian Insult, if you know what that is)
"We're richly blessed, Katie," he said to his wife as she sat at the table where Bella was inserting a carrot stick into her sister's right nostril. Sarah screamed in protest and startled PJ. He turned from his mother's milk and began to wail.
Kathleen shook her head wearily. "It's all in the definition, I dare say." (pg. 366)
(H)e wasn't entirely unprepared for the sight of a uniformed constable seated outside the door of Vi Nevin's room. He was, however, completely unprepared for the appearance of the orange-haired harpy in a crumpled pantsuit who was sitting next to the cop. She leapt to her feet and came hurtling in Martin's direction the moment she saw him.
She shrieked, "It's 'im, it's 'im, it's 'im!" She flew at Martin like a starving hawk with a rabbit in sight, and she sank her talons into the front of his shirt and screeched, "I'll kill you. Bastard. Bastard!" (pg. 534)
"I always like to end my day with a spot of murder." (pg. 241)
I think this was my first 700-page whodunit. The challenge when writing such a tome of course, is in keeping the reader's attention.
Elizabeth George is an American writer who sets her series in England, and the book is full of Britishisms. She doles out the clues, the twists, the red herrings, and the wit bit-by-bit, and just when you're getting tired of that routine, she spices things up with some kinky sex practices.
I can't quite call IPofPS a page-turner, but it did hold me sufficiently intrigued. The story kept me guessing who did it and why; and the clues are there if you're astute enough to catch them. I wasn't. The resolution of the case did not feel arbitrary, and it was fun to follow the multiple investigations, especially when they became misdirected.
It was a long read, but worthwhile. 7 Stars. Add 1 star if you're reading the series in order.