Monday, September 17, 2012

Careless in Red

Elizabeth George writes the Inspector Lynley mysteries known also as the BBC television series shown in the U.S. on PBS' Masterpiece Mystery.  Scotland Yard's Detective Superintendent Thomas Lynley, the Earl of Asherton, and his partner Detective Sargeant Barbara Havers, a working class woman, are a study in contrasts. The class difference, but close friendship, between the two characters is a major theme of the books. I had never been a fan of the TV show, nor had I been able to get far with any of the books when suddenly, I was pulled in by Believing the Lie (2012) which I downloaded to my Nook last January and took on a trip with me. I guess packing an e-reader loaded with Ms. George's latest in the Lynley series and having no back-up paperbacks, and adding in a flight delay, I stuck with the book. Then I was hooked and couldn't tear myself away. The lesson here is that if you don't like a book, put it down and try another by the same author or try the book at a later time. And, note to self, don't be so impatient, some books take a while to warm up. A reader's mood can make or break the reading experience.
Careless in Red (2008) which I just finished, finds Thomas Lynley depressed into a near catatonic state and hiking in Cornwall after the murder of his wife. After weeks of walking, Lynley finds the body of a young man, apparently the victim of a rock-climbing accident. The local police ask for Lynley's help investigating the case which appears to be murder. The hard-boiled local police chief Bea Hannaford is as tough and plain-spoken as Barbara Havers who later comes down from London to help with the investigation. The team of Havers and Hannaford is a brilliant pairing of hard-working police women who don't quite fit the feminine role expected of them. Both cynical and blunt, their detecting styles work perfectly together.
     THE CLIFFS*             
This mystery at 626 pages is densely plotted with a large cast of complex characters and a lot of local detail about Cornwall, especially the surfing, rock-climbing and hiking the area is known for. Set aside a big block of time for this book or take it on vacation.

*I found this charcoal pencil drawing in one of my old sketchbooks. I wish I could say I drew this while hiking in Cornwall. Maybe someday, but for now, this is what I think it would look like on a dark day with the fog creeping across the cliffs.

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