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Careless in Red (Inspector Lynley Series #15)

Careless in Red (Inspector Lynley Series #15)

3.3 74
by Elizabeth George

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He found the body on the forty-third day of his walk . . .

Devastated by the senseless murder of his wife, Detective Superintendent Thomas Lynley retreated to Cornwall, where he has spent six solitary weeks hiking the bleak and rugged coastline. But no matter how far he walks, the painful memories do not diminish.

Then, at the base of a cliff near a


He found the body on the forty-third day of his walk . . .

Devastated by the senseless murder of his wife, Detective Superintendent Thomas Lynley retreated to Cornwall, where he has spent six solitary weeks hiking the bleak and rugged coastline. But no matter how far he walks, the painful memories do not diminish.

Then, at the base of a cliff near a town better known for its surfing than its intrigue, Lynley discovers the body of a young man who has fallen to his death. First a witness, then a suspect when the hand of a killer is revealed, Lynley remains, above all, a policeman willing to aid the gruff head of an understaffed local constabulary in her investigation. But the secrets in this community run dark and deep—and Lynley must somehow find a way to let go of the past long enough to solve a most devious and dreadful crime.

Editorial Reviews

Some mystery writers want their readers to feel as if they've been pushed out of a plane, suddenly catapulted from the very page into tightly calibrated action that never seems to stop. Elizabeth George approaches her writing differently: "When I'm working on a novel, I plot out ten scenes at a time, which is generally as far as I can go. I know who the killer is, but I don't always know how my detectives are going to figure it out. I also don't know how the subplots are going to work out until I get into the rough draft." Careless in Red unfolds slowly, luring us in with realistic experiential details that heighten the suspense. Set on the rugged Cornish coastline, the mystery finds Thomas Lynley in an unexpected role as a witness.
Patrick Anderson
This is the first of Elizabeth George's novels I've read, and I finished it doubly astonished: at George's exceptional gifts and at my own dimwittedness in neglecting her work for the 20 years she's been publishing…American crime fiction, starting with Dashiell Hammett and continuing through James M. Cain, Ed McBain, John D. MacDonald and current writers such as Robert Crais and Lee Child, has tended to be terse, fast-moving and action-oriented. George has made herself part of an English tradition that is more leisurely and more given to psychological probing. This tradition's other leading practitioners now include P.D. James and Ruth Rendell…readers who value writing that is intelligent, surprising, sexy, funny, compassionate and wise should find Careless in Red a delight.
—The Washington Post
Publishers Weekly
George's novels about Scotland Yard's Thomas Lynley invariably have a long wind up before the action begins, so a narrator with the right tempo is absolutely necessary. Unfortunately, Charles Keating lets the first few disks develop as quietly as the Cornwall countryside in which it is set. Keating reads the novel instead of performing it as he did with the previous Lynley mystery, What Came Before He Shot Her. While he reads carefully and clearly, he sounds a bit bored. It's a shame that the unabridged version narrated by John Lee from Books on Tape is not available through brick and mortar retailers (BOT, a branch of Random House, supplies libraries, schools and download sites with product); it is the superior version. A Harper hardcover (Reviews, Mar. 10).
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Library Journal

This is the book Inspector Lynley fans have been waiting for ever since George dropped the bombshell of Helen Lynley's murder at the end of With No One as Witness. Thomas Lynley, grief-stricken in the wake of the death of his wife and unborn child, sets off walking around the southwest coast of England. On the 43rd day of his walk, Lynley comes upon the body of a young climber who has fallen to his death. When police discover that the equipment of the fallen climber has been tampered with, Lynley gets caught up in a murder investigation. New Scotland Yard sends Lynley's old friend and foil Barbara Havers to help with the case (and to keep an eye on Lynley). The victim-16-year-old lothario Santo Kerne-had many enemies in the small Cornish town of Casveyln, so the investigation of his murder is satisfyingly intricate. In keeping with George's standards, both the inspectors and their many suspects are complex, fascinating folks, and, also as usual, they all have dramatic, if a bit unbelievably dire, back stories. Highly recommended for all mystery collections. [See Prepub Alert, LJ1/08.]
—Jane la Plante

Kirkus Reviews
Thomas Lynley, formerly acting superintendent of New Scotland Yard, returns to his Cornish roots to grieve for his wife Helen and finds a body. Resolutely tramping the seaside cliffs of Cornwall to come to terms with the murder of his pregnant wife (With No One as Witness, 2005), Lynley spies a fallen rock-climber and heads for the nearest cottage to call in his discovery. The cottage belongs to veterinarian Daidre Trahair, who claims not to recognize the victim. She's lying, of course, but Lynley doesn't relay this information to DI Bea Hannaford, now in charge of the case. Instead he calls his former partner, Barbara Havers, and asks her to check out Trahair's background. Havers, under orders from the Yard to help the understaffed Hannaford and nudge Lynley toward returning, heads for Cornwall, where there's no shortage of suspects as to who cut Santo Kerne's climbing gear: discarded lovers, disappointed fathers, surfing experts, long-ago school chums and a demented mum. Every one of them has a secret worth lying to protect, including familial circumstances far more lowly than Lynley's patrician background. As you'd expect from George, a windy exploration of angst, grief and the feelings that pass for love. Much surfing and rock-climbing, but also many wretchedly oblique confrontations and overwrought similes. Even so, it's nice to have Lynley back.

Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
Inspector Lynley Series , #15
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
4.30(w) x 7.60(h) x 1.30(d)

Read an Excerpt

Careless in Red LP
A Novel

Chapter One

He found the body on the forty-third day of his walk. By then, the end of April had arrived, although he had only the vaguest idea of that. Had he been capable of noticing his surroundings, the condition of the flora along the coast might have given him a broad hint as to the time of year. He'd started out when the only sign of life renewed was the promise of yellow buds on the gorse that grew sporadically along the cliff tops, but by April, the gorse was wild with color, and yellow archangel climbed in tight whorls along upright stems in hedgerows on the rare occasions when he wandered into a village. Soon foxglove would be nodding on roadside verges, and lamb's foot would expose fiery heads from the hedgerows and the drystone walls that defined individual fields in this part of the world. But those bits of burgeoning life were in the future, and he'd been walking these days that had blended into weeks in an effort to avoid both the thought of the future and the memory of the past.

He carried virtually nothing with him. An ancient sleeping bag. A rucksack with a bit of food that he replenished when the thought occurred to him. A bottle within that rucksack that he filled with water in the morning if water was to be had near the site where he'd slept. Everything else, he wore. One waxed jacket. One hat. One tattersall shirt. One pair of trousers. Boots. Socks. Underclothes. He'd come out for this walk unprepared and uncaring that he was unprepared. He'd known only that he had to walk or he had to remain at home and sleep, and if he remained at home and slept, he'd come to realise that eventually he wouldwill himself not to awaken again.

So he walked. There had seemed no alternative. Steep ascents to cliff tops, the wind striking his face, the sharp salt air desiccating his skin, scrambling across beaches where reefs erupted from sand and stone when the tide was low, his breath coming short, rain soaking his legs, stones pressing insistently against his soles . . . These things would remind him that he was alive and that he was intended to remain so.

He was thus engaged in a wager with fate. If he survived the walk, so be it. If he did not, his ending was in the hands of the gods. In the plural, he decided. He could not think that there might be a single Supreme Being out there, pressing fingers into the keyboard of a divine computer, inserting this or forever deleting that.

His family had asked him not to go, for they'd seen his state, although like so many families of his class, they'd not made any direct mention of it. Just his mother saying, "Please don't do this, darling," and his brother suggesting, with his face gone pale and always the threat of another relapse hanging over him and over them all, "Let me go with you," and his sister murmuring with her arm round his waist, "You'll get past it. One does," but none of them mentioning her name or the word itself, that terrible, eternal, definitive word.

Nor did he mention it. Nor did he mention anything other than his need to walk. The forty-third day of this walk had taken the same shape as the forty-two days that had preceded it. He'd awakened where he'd fallen on the previous night, with absolutely no knowledge where he was aside from somewhere along the South-West Coast Path. He'd climbed out of his sleeping bag, donned his jacket and his boots, drunk the rest of his water, and begun to move. In mid-afternoon the weather, which had been uneasy most of the day, made up its mind and blew dark clouds across the sky. In the wind, they piled one upon the other, as if an immense shield in the distance were holding them in place and allowing them no further passage, having made the promise of a storm.

He was struggling in the wind to the top of a cliff, climbing from a V-shaped cove where he'd rested for an hour or so and watched the waves slamming into broad fins of slate that formed the reefs in this place. The tide was just beginning to come in, and he'd noted this. He needed to be well above it. He needed to find some sort of shelter as well.

Near the top of the cliff, he sat. He was winded, and he found it odd that no amount of walking these many days had seemed sufficient to build his endurance for the myriad climbs he was making along the coast. So he paused to catch his breath. He felt a twinge that he recognised as hunger, and he used the minutes of his respite to draw from his rucksack the last of a dried sausage he'd purchased when he'd come to a hamlet along his route. He gnawed it down to nothing, realised that he was also thirsty, and stood to see if anything resembling habitation was nearby: hamlet, fishing cottage, holiday home, or farm.

There was nothing. But thirst was good, he thought with resignation. Thirst was like the sharp stones pressing into the soles of his shoes, like the wind, like the rain. It reminded him, when reminders were needed.

He turned back to the sea. He saw that a lone surfer bobbed there, just beyond the breaking waves. At this time of year, the figure was entirely clothed in black neoprene. It was the only way to enjoy the frigid water.

He knew nothing about surfing, but he knew a fellow cenobite when he saw one. There was no religious meditation involved, but they were both alone in places where they should not have been alone. They were also both alone in conditions that were not suited for what they were attempting. For him, the coming rain—for there could be little doubt that rain was moments away from falling—would make his walk along the coast slippery and dangerous. For the surfer, the exposed reefs onshore demanded an answer to the question that asked why he surfed at all.

Careless in Red LP
A Novel
. Copyright © by Elizabeth George. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

Meet the Author

Elizabeth George is the New York Times bestselling author of sixteen novels of psychological suspense, one book of nonfiction, and two short story collections. Her work has been honored with the Anthony and Agatha awards, the Grand Prix de Littérature Policière, and the MIMI, Germany's prestigious prize for suspense fiction. She lives in Washington State.

Brief Biography

Seattle, Washington
Date of Birth:
February 26, 1949
Place of Birth:
Warren, Ohio
A.A. Foothill Community College, 1969; B.A. University of California, Riverside, 1970; M.S. California State University

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Careless in Red 3.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 74 reviews.
REZ More than 1 year ago
Very boring and cumbersome. Lacks movement. Pure drudgery. It would put a hospital patient to sleep.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
When a tv series "jumps the shark," one can conclude it is on the downhill slope toward oblivion. When Elizabeth George killed off Helen, her wonderful Thomas Lynley series became so doomed. The spark disappeared from Tommy's life and from the plots that made this reader eagerly await each new volume. Careless in Red drowns in a sea of details about characters whom I couldn't care about as it slogs through an investigation that never gets off the ground. Barbara Havers' entrance amounts to "too little, too late" and can't save the book either. George was my favorite author. I would like to think she will not overlook the other characters readers have come to know and love and bring them back to help Tommy to recover and us to care about her work once again.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Elizabeth George has redeemed herself - a little - with her latest book, Careless In Red. All that bad press about her previous book, What Came Before He Shot Her, must have pierced her through and through. That novel, a departure from her usual sex, crime and gore series, minus all the wonderful characters in the Lynley books, was a bad exercise in social commentary: Society, Bad Genes and Bad Upbringing leads to senseless shooting. But fans who remember George's early books wouldn't be too happy with the latest Lynley novel either. Oh yes, she brought back the dishy Lord Lynley - this time, unkempt, gaunt, dishevelled but with posh accent intact. He is hoping to get his wife (the 'her' who got shot) out of his system by tramping the coastlines of Cornwall where, lo and behold, the ex-New Scotland Yard homicide detective stumbles on a dead body. It's a gorgeous 18-year-old who fell from a cliff while abseiling. The back-story is George-esque. Tangled families, deceitful histories, lies and more lies. And plenty of sex of the adulterous and illicit kind. What it lacked was a videotape. So Thomas Lynley gets roped into the investigation by a middle-aged divorcee who runs the investigation show over there in Cornwall. And, of course, sh has a backstory too - a dishy ex-husband who happens to e a cop as well. The middle-aged love gone sour and turning sweet is really a lot more interesting than the spark George tries so hard to light between Lynley and an intriguingly named Daidre Trahair. In fact, he goes unprofessionally ga-ga gooey over this prime suspect, and poor dead Lady Helen Clyde (the 'her' who got shot) finds herself retreating further and further from his mind as he gets shaved, dressed and elegant again. So what is it that fans will not like? The crimes tory itself has shades of incest, adultery, illegitimate children, cuckoolded husband and mad mother - all the usual ingredients of a great Lynley book. But it won't be too far into the book before any intelligent reader realises who the murderer is and why the murder was committed. That delicious surprise element of who and why - always the most outrageous of all explanation - is gone. More than that, George tries to make the Trahair character exude a sort of mystery - and fails. Let's hope the failure was intentional and that this character will be kept out of the next Lynley instalment, or killed off in it. It's a good thinking, therefore, that George resurrects Lynley's sidekick, Sergeant Barbara Havers, and her cloud of cigarette smoke. Havers remains true to form: rough and tough outside but tender at the core. She saved this book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Contrary to quite a few of the reviewers, I liked the book quite a lot. Perhaps I'm just fond of the characters - or more to the point, I like being surprised sometimes at outcomes. Too predictable is boring - and could be that our author also chooses not to be rote and consistent in her characters and plots. That's probably not a crime - although from some of the comments, you'd think so. (betrayed!! too little of one's favorite characters!! a favorite person written out!!) a postscript: I just loved the below succinct comment (even though I don't agree with him/her). Rez, you slay me. Posted August 15, 2009, 7:41 AM EST: Very boring and cumbersome. Lacks movement. Pure drudgery. It would put a hospital patient to sleep.
Jughead More than 1 year ago
Too bad, yet another disappointment from Ms. George. Perhaps she needs to get back to 400-page (max.) books that focus on several, and not too many, aspects. Seems Lynley should be 'primed' to show off his expertise!
Black_Cat_Lover More than 1 year ago
I've read a number of George's books (including the 2 before this) and have generally been happy with them. However, she's way off her game here. Nothing happened for the first 300 pages. Way too many characters that never amounted to anything in the story. And as others have said, for Lynley to go from wandering the Cornish coast in misery and displair to an upbeat interest in a murder and a wierd relationship with a gypsy turned vet is way beyond fiction. The ending might have been interesting if she had built it up more. And she threw in a plot twist of "age advancing" some kids' pictures but never tied that loop. Very disappointing.
Dr-Bee More than 1 year ago
I have loved Elizabeth George's writing for years; however, a few of her most recent books have been disappointing. With the most recent, she is no longer on the top of my list of favorite authors. I found this book to be tedious, uninteresting, and too densely worded. I didn't care about the characters, including Lynly and Havers (they were minor players)and, I fear, I have lost the will to keep in touch with them. It just took too much effort to trudge to the end of this book. The resolution was very anticlimactic and the whole female-vet-as-abandoned-gypsy-thing, beyond reality. As I read (and I only kept reading because I kept thinking that if I went on, at some point it would be worth it), it occurred to me that perhaps Miss George wrote this book in an effort to use every descriptive word, plot line, character, metaphor and simile she had ever had in mind in order to dazzle of us with her literary prowess. And yet, somehow, I feel as though I just tried to enjoy a lemon popcicle with the wrapper in tact - very unsatisfying.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I had trouble following the characters in this book. I've read all of Ms. George's books, especially like Inspector Lynley books, but this one disappointed me somewhat. I had to keep looking back to see who was who.
DogmamaTX More than 1 year ago
I liked it, although, as usual in her books, the plot starts out fairly slowly, after discovery of The Body, of course. I thought the end was a tad rushed. I expected a big tearful reveal that the "son" who was killed was actually the grandson of the killer, but maybe he wasn't that grandson, maybe someone else was the father of Dellen's son.
Dini More than 1 year ago
I never hesitate to buy a novel by Elizabeth George. They are always woven together beautifully with much detail as to the surroundings of the action, the characters (many are elegant, especially Inspector Lynley), and the plot. I find that the characters develop a bit further in each book so that you come to know them more intimately--like old friends and their problems evolve as time passes also. Cannot say enough. Enjoy!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I have read and enjoyed all of the Inspector Lynley novels and have loved every one. After ordering this book I read a very unfavorable review and did not expect to enjoy it. Well the review was sooo wrong. It was great!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I could not wait for this book to come out and what a bust. One minute Lynley is mourning the loss of Helen,'not eating, sleeping, walking etc.'the next minute he has sunk himself into a murder mystery and going ga ga over the vet. There were too many characters that I did not care about and really did not even make me think they were suspects.The investigation never really took off and the clues were weak. I figured this one out way before the ending. Did we really need to know that Bea did internet dating? It really wasn't necessary to wrap up the stories on all those people and their dysfunctional lives. All I want as a big fan is the stuff we love, Tommy,Barbara and the rest of the gang.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I was disappointed in this book....I found it too out of character for both Lynley and Barbara. Inspector Lynley wasn't the objective professional he usually is and the lack of interaction with Barbara where they share their ideas and thoughts in order to process the motives of the suspects was gone. The whole idea that he could be forced to participate in the investigation was just too unbelievable.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I actually enjoyed 'What Came Before He Shot Her' quite a bit. Her characters can be a be overwrought, but they usually ring true in the end. 'Careless In Red' has our well known and well loved Lynley acting so unlike himself - it is as if the novel were written as fanfiction by the mysterious vet from Bristol. He ignores every calculated lie and omission - apparantly because he is constantly thinking about brushing her damn hair out of her face. Do we really need 5 scenes of her wayward tresses?
Guest More than 1 year ago
I was really disappointed by this long awaited tale of Thomas Linley's life. I agree with others that the book sort of just ended as if she had grown tired of writing it. I have long been a major fan of George's writing and hope that the next installment of the Linley series will be more in line with the excellent writing for which it is known.
Guest More than 1 year ago
there are so many better ways to spend your time than reading this one, including petting your dog 'or cat, if the cat's willing', washing your car, walking, or even staring mindlessly into the distance. This book is a huge disappointment, and at over 600 pages, it's disappointing for a long time. George desperately needs an editor who will reign her in. Can we dispense with the in-depth reporting of every turn a car makes every time a character gets in one? Do even the most minor of characters have to be described from birth on? The length of the novel would have been acceptable if there were any sort of pay-off in the end. Alas, if you choose to read it, don't get your hopes up. It doesn't so much wrap up as simply end. Yes, George reveals the killer's identity, but it's astonishingly unbelievable. To reinforce my point about the need for more editing, let me say that the novel goes on for some 30 or 40 pages after the killer is revealed. So that George can pull some trick out of her hat that explains the unbelievability of the killer's identity? No, not at all. There's nothing more there.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The good news is that Lynley and Havers are back. The bad news is that they are mired in 623 pages of bloated, portentous prose and almost obliterated by numerous subplots. The subplots, all involving unlovable characters with unfamiliar (presumably Cornish) names, unfold in disconnected fragments, each revelation ending in a teaser about dark-doings-in-the-past. The past situation that I really wanted updated, the relationship between Havers and her south Asian neighbors, wasn't mentioned at all.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I eagerly looked forward to discovering what George would do following the non-Lynley novel. I found Careless in Red tedious--too many characters, too many red herrings. I did enjoy the interaction between Lynley and Havers and hope that George's next novel concentrates on the pair.
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Inspector Lynley almost loses his way as a detective after his wife's death but a hike in Cornwall changes all that.
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Loved this book...couldn't put it down and didn't want it to end. Lots of British vernacular that I had to "look up", but that's good! Not sure how good it will be for a book club discussion, but very enjoyable read. I might even read another of her books.