Guest Reviewer: Booktopia’s Sarah McDuling
Inspector Lynley is back in this long awaited, seventeenth instalment of Elizabeth George’s popular series. Called to the scene of what appears to be an accidental death, Lynley takes part in an unofficial investigation to determine whether or not a murder has taken place. Our victim is the nephew of powerful business magnate, Bernard Fairclough. In the time-honoured tradition of wealthy family dynasties in crime fiction, the Faircloughs are hiding more than their fair share of skeletons in the closet. It is Inspector Lynley’s job to sift through murky layers of deceit and scandal to uncover the truth.
And now, for the purposes of this review of Believing the Lie, I will divide the entire population of the world into three categories.
Category A – Die-Hard Inspector Lynley Fans.
If you are a member of Category A, you are most likely the proud owner of all the previous Inspector Lynley books. You have read each Inspector Lynley mystery (probably more than once) and seen every episode of the TV show (which you passionately declare to anyone who will listen is nowhere near as good as the books).
To members of Category A, this past year has been something of a struggle for you. Indeed, 2011 has been a cold and barren wasteland, without nary a Lynley book in sight. Fortunately, the dark Lynley-less days are drawing to a close. The release date of Believing the Lie is rapidly approaching and this is far more exciting to you than the prospect of Christmas or New Years Eve.
If you are a Die-Hard Fan, you have probably already pre-ordered your copy of Believing the Lie. If not, then what are you waiting for? Get to it!
NB: In the interest of full disclosure, I am a die-hard fan.
Category B – Inspector Lynley Fans Who Were Slightly Disappointed By the Last Few Books in the Series (or for brevity’s sake “Concerned Fans”)
Members of Cateogory B, you know who you are. You are the traditionalist fans, those who devoured the early Inspector Lynley books but were shocked by the author’s controversial decision to kill off a beloved central character. Since then, you have felt rather traumatized and bewildered. Perhaps you even made the decision to skip the last few books in the series.
Members of Category B, I feel your pain. Though I count myself a proud member of Category A, I am willing to concede that the last few books in the series (while definitely superior to the average book) have not been 100% as utterly perfect as earlier instalments. I am delighted to report, however, that in Believing the Lie, Inspector Lynley is back in prime form. If ever there was a time to renew your membership card to the “Die-Hard Lynley Fanclub” – this is it. So go ahead and jump back on the bandwagon, Concerned Fans. You won’t be disappointed.
Category C – People Who Think They Don’t Like Crime Fiction.
To members of this category I will say only this – you are mistaken.
I will reluctantly admit, I can understand how a person might fall into the trap of believing they don’t like crime fiction. There have been times in my life when I have felt embarrassed to be seen in public reading a book with a morbid, blood spattered cover and a title including the word “death”, “kill” or “murder” (or sometimes a combination of all three). And yet, I have never been able to resist losing myself in a cracking good murder mystery. And when you’re dealing with a mystery written by Elizabeth George, there’s always a complex puzzle to solve and you can bet there will be several whiplash-inducing plot twists to enjoy along the way.
So if you are one of those people who eschew the genre that gave birth to Sherlock Holmes, Hercule Poirot and Lisbeth Salander (three of my favourite fictional people), then I can only conclude that you simply have not had the pleasure of meeting Inspector Lynley. If this is the case, get your hands on the nearest Lynley Mystery and start reading. I dare you not to enjoy it.
You will notice I did not include a category for People Who like Crime Fiction But Do Not Enjoy Inspector Lynley Books. This is because I do not believe such people exist.
If you like reading crime, then you’re bound to enjoy reading Elizabeth George. Her plots are tightly woven, perfectly paced and come complete with a cast of dysfunctional yet psychologically compelling characters so well drawn that they seem to leap of the page.
Detective Inspector Thomas Lynley (8th Earl of Asherton) is a member of the British aristocracy. Struggling to move on after the tragic death of a loved one in With No One As Witness, Lynley is crippled by grief and prone to bouts of self-recrimination. This of course makes him the perfect “brooding hero.”
The beauty of this series, however, is that the books do not need to be read in order. Newcomers will not be left floundering in a haze of back-story. Indeed, if you have never read any of the previous books in the series, Believing the Lie is a good place to start.
When all is said in done, it really doesn’t matter which category you place yourself in. Whether you’re a Die-Hard Lynley Fan or someone who (mistakenly) believes they don’t like crime fiction, the latest Inspector Lynley mystery is just the kind of compulsive page-turner likely to keep you up way past your bedtime. And even if you’re clever enough to predict the ending, I’m willing to bet you’ll still be surprised by some of the twists and turns that occur along the way. The only real drawback to reading Believing the Lie is that once you’re finished, you’ll be facing a long wait for the next instalment.