16 January 2012

The Inspector Lynley Mysteries, Book 12

After my marathon readthrough of three Inspector Lynley books this summer, which were my first entries in the series for five years, I decided that I was going to finish the series off.  So every four months I'll be picking up another one and giving it a go...

A Place of Hiding
by Elizabeth George

I'm rapidly coming to the conclusion that Elizabeth George does not understand what I like about the Inspector Lynley mysteries.  The thing that makes the series shine is Lynley and Havers.  In the past three books we've had Havers on her own, Lynley and Havers on different cases, and Lynley and Havers working together but barely in the book.  Why did she come up with two characters who go great together and then either not put them together, or minimize their appearances?  A Place of Hiding contributes to this problem by having no Havers and barely any Lynley; the detective for this story is Simon St. James, Lynley's good friend.  George overestimates the extent to which I am interested in St. James.  In theory, he's a different character (and certainly people in the story keep on saying he is), but I would be hard-pressed to name a difference between how St. James and Lynley conduct their investigations.

All that grumbling aside, this is a pretty good mystery on its own merits.  It's really slow to get started (also par for the course for the last few books), but around halfway through, it began to accelerate, and at the three-quarter mark, it was rocketing.  The last quarter was excellent: great stuff.  George knows how to assemble a puzzle, and how to make not one, but many revelations that shock you as things come to a climax.  Once again, though, I completely failed to guess the culprit.  I think I will have to admit that I am just rubbish at mysteries, even though I enjoy them.

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