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This Body of Death: An Inspector Lynley Novel    by Elizabeth George Amazon.com order for
This Body of Death
by Elizabeth George
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Harper, 2010 (2010)
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* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

I've been anxious to find out what comes next for New Scotland Yard Thomas Lynley ever since reading the previous book in the series, Careless in Red. Devastated by grief over his pregnant wife's death in With No One As Witness, Lynley tramped for weeks around the coast of Cornwall and, of course, stumbled upon murder.

As This Body of Death opens, Lynley is still on leave. Assistant Commissioner Sir David Hillier appoints a new character to the series as acting Superintendent, divorced mother of two Isabelle Ardery. Though serene on the surface, Isabelle has a serious drinking problem and all is not well on the home front either. To make matters worse, she's thrown in the deep end with an immediate murder investigation. The victim is a young woman, Jemima Hastings, whose body is found in Abney Park Cemtery. But Isabelle does one very smart thing. She asks Lynley to work on the case with her, hoping that his perceived support will help her secure her new position on a permanent basis.

The murder investigation is framed by a series of objective reports (that seem to have been written by a psychologist or social worker) on what led up to and followed the murder of a toddler, John Dresser, by three young boys. But the raison d'Ítre for these reports only becomes clear late in the story. Balancing this horror with humor is Isabelle's determination to change DS Havers' appearance. She orders Barbara to dress professionally, wear makeup, and get her teeth fixed. At a loss, Barbara consults her young neighbor Hadiyyah, who is thrilled to accompany her on a shopping expedition. It has mixed results.

The story takes readers between London (where Jemima's murder took place) and Hampshire (where the victim previously lived with a thatcher, Gordon Jossie, on a New Forest holding). Jemima's brother and best friend question why she suddenly fled the relationship and the home she had made with Jossie, who is now living there with another young woman, Gina Dickens. What sent Jemima to London and who is the man (whose confused thoughts the author shares with readers) who believed himself to be her guardian? As the case progresses, Barbara goes her own way, Isabelle makes mistakes, and soon her job is at risk.

Elizabeth George always increases reader interest by building tension in relationships, and she does plenty of it this time - between Isabelle and her new team members, between Isabelle and Lynley, and between Jossie and his ex's friend and brother. The well crafted solution to the mystery took me by surprise, and I enjoyed Isabelle's introduction and hope to see more of her. This Body of Death is not to be missed by fans of intelligent mysteries.

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