Customer Reviews for

This Body of Death (Inspector Lynley Series #16)

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Most Helpful Favorable Review

22 out of 22 people found this review helpful.

great character driven English thriller

On compassionate leave, Detective Inspector Thomas Lynley remains in Cornwell still grieving the murder of his wife. However, Metropolitan Police acting Superintendent Isabelle Ardery wants to be London's top cop without the acting label. To do so, she needs Lynley to...
On compassionate leave, Detective Inspector Thomas Lynley remains in Cornwell still grieving the murder of his wife. However, Metropolitan Police acting Superintendent Isabelle Ardery wants to be London's top cop without the acting label. To do so, she needs Lynley to eliminate a potential impediment.

Someone murdered Jemima Hastings; the Hampshire native was found dead in a London cemetery. Whereas Lynley's team detests Ardery, they investigate the case. Detective Sergeant Barbara Havers and Detective Inspector John Stewart follow clues to New Forest where animals are welcome and people are not. Meanwhile Lynley returns to London to help solve the Hastings homicide.

This is a terrific police procedural that reads more like a psychological suspense than a typical investigation story line. In London and in New Forest, suspects seem everywhere, which makes for a delightfully convoluted inquiry. Lynley is terrific as he grieves for his late spouse yet seems to understand his superior is much more than just an ambitions bi*ch. His team is also fascinating as everyone one of them loath Ardery as an aggressive SOB whose career supersedes case solving and compassion. The Body of Death is a great character driven English thriller.

Harriet Klausner

posted by harstan on March 2, 2010

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Most Helpful Critical Review

7 out of 10 people found this review helpful.

You will skim this book...it is bloated and meandering, and has forgotten the first rule of a good mystery: the plot should be simple, and the main characters complex. Here we get too much backstory and not enough time with the characters we love.

If you go back and look at Payment in Blood or one of the other early novels, you'll see what George has lost: a realization that we come back for the main characters and like to spend time with them. We do NOT care to spend time with the suspects and do not want to rea...
If you go back and look at Payment in Blood or one of the other early novels, you'll see what George has lost: a realization that we come back for the main characters and like to spend time with them. We do NOT care to spend time with the suspects and do not want to read hundreds of pages about their damaged lives. We want to be at the side of the detectives and see the case as they see it; one or more of them should be on virtually every page.

George's recent books are more sociology than mystery, and she needs a good editor to rein her in; she has totally lost her way. The recent books are all overlong and boring. I am desperately trying to finish this one, skimming like crazy, pulling out the good scenes with Lynley, Ardery, Havers, St. James et al.

I used to loan these books to friends, but I don't anymore...the last three have been a huge disappointment. Elizabeth George is not George Eliot, and mystery novels are not meant to be Victorian fiction. The plots should be simple and sharp, the detectives at center stage, the human interactions focused mainly on the characters we love. Think Stieg Larsson, Kate Atkinson, Louise Penny, PD James, Michael Connelly, John Sandford, Peter Robinson.

Elizabeth, I hope you're reading this...you're writing your way to oblivion; Lynley and Havers deserve better.

posted by 426574 on May 28, 2010

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  • Posted March 2, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    great character driven English thriller

    On compassionate leave, Detective Inspector Thomas Lynley remains in Cornwell still grieving the murder of his wife. However, Metropolitan Police acting Superintendent Isabelle Ardery wants to be London's top cop without the acting label. To do so, she needs Lynley to eliminate a potential impediment.

    Someone murdered Jemima Hastings; the Hampshire native was found dead in a London cemetery. Whereas Lynley's team detests Ardery, they investigate the case. Detective Sergeant Barbara Havers and Detective Inspector John Stewart follow clues to New Forest where animals are welcome and people are not. Meanwhile Lynley returns to London to help solve the Hastings homicide.

    This is a terrific police procedural that reads more like a psychological suspense than a typical investigation story line. In London and in New Forest, suspects seem everywhere, which makes for a delightfully convoluted inquiry. Lynley is terrific as he grieves for his late spouse yet seems to understand his superior is much more than just an ambitions bi*ch. His team is also fascinating as everyone one of them loath Ardery as an aggressive SOB whose career supersedes case solving and compassion. The Body of Death is a great character driven English thriller.

    Harriet Klausner

    22 out of 22 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 28, 2010

    You will skim this book...it is bloated and meandering, and has forgotten the first rule of a good mystery: the plot should be simple, and the main characters complex. Here we get too much backstory and not enough time with the characters we love.

    If you go back and look at Payment in Blood or one of the other early novels, you'll see what George has lost: a realization that we come back for the main characters and like to spend time with them. We do NOT care to spend time with the suspects and do not want to read hundreds of pages about their damaged lives. We want to be at the side of the detectives and see the case as they see it; one or more of them should be on virtually every page.

    George's recent books are more sociology than mystery, and she needs a good editor to rein her in; she has totally lost her way. The recent books are all overlong and boring. I am desperately trying to finish this one, skimming like crazy, pulling out the good scenes with Lynley, Ardery, Havers, St. James et al.

    I used to loan these books to friends, but I don't anymore...the last three have been a huge disappointment. Elizabeth George is not George Eliot, and mystery novels are not meant to be Victorian fiction. The plots should be simple and sharp, the detectives at center stage, the human interactions focused mainly on the characters we love. Think Stieg Larsson, Kate Atkinson, Louise Penny, PD James, Michael Connelly, John Sandford, Peter Robinson.

    Elizabeth, I hope you're reading this...you're writing your way to oblivion; Lynley and Havers deserve better.

    7 out of 10 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 1, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    This book is awful!

    Between the British accents and the plot going back and forth between 2 different stories its a difficult read. I didn't enjoy it at all and those who wrote that they were disappointed that George killed off Linley's wife are right. The story was not the same but, the book itself was soooooooo long and drawn out I skipped papes just to get to the end! Sorry no more Elizabeth George books for me.

    6 out of 13 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 30, 2010

    This is a good read

    This book for me is not up to the level of Elizabeth George's series on Detective Inspector Lynley.

    Though the quality of writing is a bit off from the Lynley series it is a book that mystery readers will enjoy. Her quality is so high it is a little disappointing to read this one. She has different plots here and different characters, which are ok but not to the quality of the others, in my opinion.

    All in all a decent and good read.

    J. Robert Ewbank author "John Wesley, Natural Man, and the 'Isms'"

    5 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 28, 2010

    Elizabeth George Continues to Satisfy

    As always, Elizabeth George's Lynley and the other characters continue to change and grow. She has included a parallel story that intertwines and keeps you on the edge of your seat. The series gets more deep and intense with every book as the characters lives go on.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 20, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    A Very Disappointing Book

    I have enjoyed most of Elizabeth George's books, I really liked Careless In Red which many readers did not like at all. Probably the only book of hers that I really disliked was What Came Before He Shot Her. It might be true to say that George is one of my favorite authors so I was looking forward to this new one and disliked it so much that I put it down and will not finish it. First of all I can't handle reading about crimes committed against innocent children. I remember studying the mystery story genre when I was in college and one of the prime requisites of a good mystery is that the murder victim must be disliked by the reader. I ask you who can stomach the idea of murdering a three year old child. Admittedly this was a very minor part of the story but it turned me off right at the very beginning.
    Secondly, this book was way too long with so many minor characters popping up I couldn't keep up with them all. I enjoy reading about the major characters, Lynley and Barbara Havers but this book didn't do justice to them. I would rather go back and reread George's earlier books than try to plow through another tedious read like this.

    4 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 1, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    ENJOYED!

    The body of a young woman is found, gruesomely murdered in an old cemetery in London. Nothing much to go on as far as identification except that she has one blue eye and one brown eye. The case is handed off to Superintendent Isabelle Ardery, a recent transfer to New Scotland Yard, and who has a chip on her shoulder. On compassionate leave, Detective Inspector Thomas Lynley remains in Cornwell still grieving the murder of his wife. Isabelle Ardery wants to be London's top cop. To do so, she needs Lynley to eliminate a potential problem. Even though Lynley's team detests Ardery, they investigate the case anyway. Thomas and Isabelle are emotionally at odds, and although they would seem to make an unlikely couple, the two manage to form a bond.and so on and so forth.ENJOYED!

    Others favorites of mine are: PERFECT, EXPLOSION IN PARIS, RAINWATER, and THE DOUBLE COMFORT SAFARIS CLUB

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 14, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Help Wanted: Competent Editor

    Will someone please get a decent editor for Ms George? Oh, wait, these are the same people who advised her to pen "What Came Before He Shot Her," a woefully depressing and plodding tale that didn't need to be told in the first place. And here we have many of the same characters again: (1) children of impoverished circumstances and even worse parents who end up being bullies (at the least) and criminals at the worst; (2) at least one sadistic SOB who uses sex as a weapon of control; (3) at least one promiscuous young woman who started her sexual exploits early on due to a great trauma; (4) political games in the upper echelons of New Scotland Yarn; (5) a female rising to a management position who is devoid of emotion because she's conscientious of being in "a man's world" -- and no surprise that she's not liked by anyone; (6) several other "colorful" characters whose stories are told ad nauseum before we even need to hear them, and whose background turns out to be mostly irrelevant; (7) sexual exploits of any number of adults which have little or nothing to do with the story, (8) minutiae about a particular occupation -- roof thatching in this book, surfing in "Careless in Red" -- which has little to do with the plot in the end . . . the list is too long to reiterate. Suffice it to say that it takes entirely too long to get to the meat of this story which is merely that Lynley is back at work a mere five months after his wife's death.

    The earlier novels in the Lynley/Havers series were interesting to read because there was a need to develop the central characters against the background of the various mysteries that need to be solved. As readers we are are five years away from the shocking death of Lynley's wife ("With No One as Witness" was released in 2005); we deserve a story that goes beyond this amateurish rehash of characters and social commentary. If Elizabeth George doesn't have anywhere to go with her main characters, then she should leave off writing about them.

    Here's the plot: A girl is found dead in a North London cemetary. The interim superintendant convinces Lynley to return to the team. The interim superintendant, in an effort to look good for the job, makes an early arrest of the wrong person. Lynley, Havers, Nkata, St. James (the usual squad) solve the crime by their usual cooperative work.

    While numerous suspects are proposed and lots of people are interviewed, the rest of the story is just a bunch of characters we've read about previously and they don't add much to the overall story. It's a yawn.

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 18, 2010

    Another Lynley mystery that is worth your time

    I looked forward to this new Lynley book with great anticipation. I was not disappointed.

    The story evolved from the murder of a young woman from Hampshire in a London cemetery. Of course, along with the detectives we learned about her life, her friends, family and acquaintances in order for the crime to be solved. Once again, the supporting characters and details make interesting reading. I also enjoyed learning about life in the New Forest. This author always brings rich detail to her stories.

    Throughout the book, the author used a different typeface to insert the story of a horrific crime committed by three young boys against a toddler. The details appear to be taken right from the newspaper as they are similar to the James Bulger case, including the special dock created to allow the young defendants to see the proceedings. As usual the details of how the system worked in their apprehension, questionning and trial all appear to be accurate based on news accounts. I admit that during the read I sometimes felt these accounts were an intrusion but in the end it worked well in parallel to the story to provide necessary context to explain events in a creative way. While the subject of life after the commission of a crime isn't new to this author or in general, the fact that she weaves it into the story of familiar characters makes it perhaps more successful than either Ruth Rendell or P.D. James.

    The book reintroduces Isabella Ardery into the mix. She was trying out for Webberley's old position. Her tryout was remarkably unsuccessful though she is given a second chance with Lynley's intervention and his promise to return full time. If not for the efforts of Havers, Lynley and the other detectives, it is unlikely the case would have been solved as Ardery's performance as the "guv" was so poor. She was depicted in a poor light as a unit leader. She was dismissive of her detectives' suggestions, disdainful and argumentative. It is not credible that she would be given another opportunity to lead the unit even if though it keeps her in the picture as a romantic interest for Lynley. It was clear that Lynley was much more suited to the role and one wonders if Ardery could perform successfully without his help. It was interesting to see Lynley in action with an attractive female co-worker because, of course, his approach to late night discussion and dinner to discuss the case reminded me of Havers disdain for his reputation for that exact behavior with attractive co-workers when they were first partnered together. I did miss their partnership on this case and if there are future installments, I hope that they will work together again. It seems likely since if Ardery is to be the boss I would assume she would act less the case detective in the future.

    I enjoyed the interaction between Lynley, St. James and Deb. It struck the right note of long time friends. Ardery's perception that they communicated in short hand was a good view of a newcomer's perspective of an established relationship. I also am interested to see where we go next in Havers life with the return of Hadiyyah's mother. I can't help but assume that Havers closest friends will have less time for her now. It seemed that her home with its proximity to her friends home had become a welcome place for her. I admit to feeling sad that she will once again be alone and her relationship with Azhar is not likely to develop.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 3, 2010

    Good Book..but

    It is another good book from George, but a little too wordy. Could have easily knocked out at least 150 pages and lost nothing in either suspense or plot. I had a little trouble believing in some of the characters in this book...not a problem I've had before with her other Linley stories. I mistakenly ordered the large print edition...easy to read but impossible to take anywhere!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 6, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Great Read

    I've read all 15 of the Inspector Lynley Series and I thought this was a great read. I ignored all sorts of things I should be doing to read this in a few days. I agree with a couple of previous reviews that Helen should not have been killed in a previous book, but she was so if you like that other characters you'll still want to read the next in the series. The one thing I didn't like was the relationship with Lynley and Ardrey - just didn't seem like him. As some of the other reviewers noted I would also like more of Deborah and Simon St.James. All in all though I couldn't put it down.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 18, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    Reliably Elizabeth George

    This book is consistent with the series, but not one of my favorites. Linley comes across appropriately as a widower emerging from a state of mourning, and believably as the politically savvy and mildly reluctant inspector. Although Simon and Deborah St James make several appearances, their roles are minimal; I would love to see them add more complexity to the storylines, both professionally and socially. Havers remains a sad scapegoat for negative images--rather surprising from a woman author--but there are subtle indications that her deeper character may be emerging slowly. Visions of the countyside are pleasantly evoked, providing a nice contract to London. Overall, however, the elements are not terribly fulfilling: character development is very slow, both new and old characters are fussy and unlovable, and the storylines are mild and unfulfilling. Nice, long read, beautifully written grammatically, but uninspring.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 19, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Loamy Lynley

    I am a huge fan of Elizabeth George and all her Lynley novels. I applaud her for keeping her recurring characters, Lynley, Havers, St. James, et al, fresh and relevant, book after book. She simultaneously satisfies the fans who want the familiarity of their favorite characters, and the other fans who want to see them change over time and through trials and tribulations. And certainly she's put Lynley and his Scooby Gang through the ringer. Death, disgrace, despair, dementia and that's just the d's. This Body of Death is no different from her others. She combines the familiar crowd with a guest cast of real people (as opposed to "characters") and then puts them all in a blender with a scoopful of crazy, a pinch of danger, a dollop of horror and hits the PUREE button! George is a fan favorite and unfortunately this has lead her to honor their pleas for longer novels. She has acquiesced and made This Body far longer than it needs to be with needless, meandering descriptions of food, pet antics, pastoral scenes, and more. Too many more. I, an avid fan, loved the extra helpings of minutae, but not everyone will. If you have not read the other Lynley novels, you will feel lost as the rich history of all the recurring characters is frequently referenced with no explanation for the uninitiated. But if you're a Lynley-phile like me, you will love this book!

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 18, 2010

    Where has Lynley gone?

    Yes this book was enjoyable and a quick read but what has happened to Thomas Lynley? This post Helen character seems a bit confused and to have blurred the lines between professional and private man. It is the first time that his judgement is impaired. I was truly disappointed in him.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 14, 2010

    Better than the last one

    After reading the dissapointing Careless in Red, I was ready for Lynley/Havers and team to return. This book is good and has a great plot but the author spends way too much time with the supporting cast. Where was Tommy in all this? Not in the book as much as I wanted. We meet a new very unlikable boss who seems to have no respect for the talent of the team. Tommy shows up here and there and ends up spending way too much with her in and out of the office. That does not seem to be his style. Its only been 5 months since he lost Helen,and being the classy guy that he is the first person he gets involved with is her!!!! Fortunately Barbara Havers is represented well in the book with her talent and dress code. The author needs to remember that the fans love the two main characters. Don't mess up too much with them. Stop telling us about thatching a roof. Too much wasted time in the book with unimportant tales.
    I did like it but way too long of a read that probably could have been about 200 pages less.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 4, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    Losing her edge?

    This book was somewhat disappointing in that it wasn't up to Elizabeth George's usual standards; however, that bar is set so high, even though this one doesn't measure up, it's still superior to most crime fiction out there.

    Some characters are disappointing...they behave uncharacteristically (Lyndley) or are poorly written (Isabelle, who flip-flops between trite writing and three-dimensional development. Not a consistently imagined character). Barbara Havers is the exception - she continues to grow (and delight) in nuanced fashion.

    The language in the book is also flawed - a few absolutely cliched metaphors that cause the reader to wince. The plot is dense and unfolds slowly enough that the reader will find that he/she can anticipate the next development and be pulled along the path of the mystery knowingly, but without resentment that it was too easy or hard to grasp. Slightly "tighter" writing could have helped the story keep a more sustained pace.

    BTW, I'm a fan who appreciates that in the past Ms. George has taken great risks with her characters. I don't blame her at all for events in past books that disappointed other readers. If anything, that sense of edgy I-didn't-see-that-coming suspense is totally lacking from this book, to its detriment.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 26, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Can't get over the death of the Inspector's wife SORRY!

    The Inspector's wife was such a beloved character that when Ms George kill3ed her off many, many people, including myself took it personally.
    Crazy HUH! Her novels will never be the same nor shall I ever read them.
    SORRY!

    1 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 5, 2014

    There is not much that I enjoy more than hanging out with Tommy

    There is not much that I enjoy more than hanging out with Tommy Lynley and Barbara Havers!!!

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  • Posted March 25, 2013

    Elizabeth sure knows Tommy!!

    What a treat! I feel that I know the St. James family, Inspector Lynley and the Indian family as well as I know my own. Ms. George is simply an excellent study of real human beings. Of course, the mystery is great, too. But it is her writing and character development that especially thrills me.

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  • Posted February 24, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    I received this novel as a gift. This is my first time reading

    I received this novel as a gift. This is my first time reading sharing her work.
    Synopsis:
    The first case we hear about is the case of the murder of John Dresser. Three boys are accused of the crime. Pieces from this case are woven throughout the novel. The other case is the murder of Jemima Hastings. Acting Inspector Superintendent Isabelle Ardery has asked Thomas Lynley to help out in the investigation and help her work with his team. He consents to assist in the investigation that seems a little over Isabel’s head. Meredith Powell who is a friend of Jemima’s also conducts her own investigation focusing on Gordon Jossie and Gina Dickens. Gordon is one of Jemima’s exboyfriends who seems very suspicious. Who killed Jemima? Will inspector Lynley be able to help Isabelle?
    My Thoughts:
    When I first saw this novel I couldn’t believe how long it was. I feel that I should give you some background on the Inspector Lynley novels, and this is the sixteenth novel in the series. This series is set in London England in the Scotland Yard police force. Lynley is an Inspector but doesn’t really need to work because of his family’s wealth. The other location is Hampshire where Jemima Hastings used to live.
    This novel was a little on the long side for me. I had a hard time with staying interested. I felt like I needed a notebook to keep track of all of the characters. My favorite character was Barbara Havers. She is the partner of Inspector Linley with her own style. This character acted as comic relief throughout this novel. I think it would be highly doubtful that I would find it worth it to read another.

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