In Pursuit of the Proper Sinner (Inspector Lynley Series #10)

In Pursuit of the Proper Sinner (Inspector Lynley Series #10)

4.4 20
by Elizabeth George

View All Available Formats & Editions

Calder Moor is a wild and deadly place: many have been trapped in the myriad limestone caves, lost in collapsed copper mines, injured on perilous gritstone ridges. But this time, when two bodies are discovered in the shadow of the ancient circle of stones known as Nine Sisters Henge, it is clearly not a case for Mountain Rescue. The corpses are those of a young…  See more details below


Calder Moor is a wild and deadly place: many have been trapped in the myriad limestone caves, lost in collapsed copper mines, injured on perilous gritstone ridges. But this time, when two bodies are discovered in the shadow of the ancient circle of stones known as Nine Sisters Henge, it is clearly not a case for Mountain Rescue. The corpses are those of a young man and woman. Each met death in a different fashion. Each died violently.

To Detective Inspector Thomas Lynley, brought in to investigate by special request, this grisly crime promises to be one of the toughest assignments of his career. For the unfortunate Nicola Maiden was the daughter of a former officer in an elite undercover unit, a man Lynley once regarded as a mentor. Now, as Lynley struggles to find out if Nicola's killer was an enemy of her father's or one she earned herself, a disgraced Barbara Havers, determined to redeem herself in the eyes of her longtime partner, crisscrosses London seeking information on the second murder victim.

Yet the more dark secrets Lynley and Havers uncover, the more they learn that neither the victims nor the suspects are who they appear to be. And once again they come up against the icy realization that human relationships are often murderous...and that the blood that binds can also kill.

Read More

Editorial Reviews

The Barnes & Noble Review
In Deadly Pursuit

You don't think of the Agatha Christie style of novel as being overhauled, but in fact, a number of very good writers have been pushing the cozy into some brave new areas. Nancy Pickard, Joan Hess, and Carolyn Hart, to name just a few, have demonstrated that the cozy can be serious as well as seriously (or pointedly, if you prefer) funny.

Over the past decade, Elizabeth George has also been pushing the Christie-style mystery into richer and more rewarding areas. Her new novel, In Pursuit of the Proper Sinner, is so rich in character, incident, and theme that one finally has to take it seriously, not just as a mystery but as a novel as well. I'm not going to say that it "transcends the mystery genre," because that's offensive to mystery writers. And rightly so. But I will say that, in much the same way that Sharyn McCrumb has expanded the range of the serious crime novel, George has also pushed her particular form to the limits.

The central plot deals with two bodies found in a circle of prehistoric stones. Who were they? How did they get there? Did the victims even know each other? Detectives Thomas Lynley and Barbara Havers find themselves caught up in a mystery that grows more perplexing the longer they contemplate it. As usual with George, the mystery itself is well devised and a lot of fun to speculate on as you read.

George is now a far better stylist than she was in her first few books, and she has also backed off some of her more labored descriptions of place.Hercharacters have deepened, too; they're more morally ambiguous than they once were — the good not quite so good, the bad not quite so nasty. She seems more comfortable with police routine, too. Those sections are more animated now, less like riffs on textbook pages and background notes.

There's a lot of tricky stage management here, and George pulls it off with great stylish ease. She lingers when it's appropriate to linger and speeds up when the story starts to lag. There are a lot of people and a lot of subplots, and pacing is critical to a novel of this size and scope. Elizabeth George has written a fine, intense, thoughtful, and sometimes stunning novel of passion and betrayal. I haven't read all her novels, but I can't imagine that she's written a better one than this.

Ed Gorman

Ed Gorman's latest novels include Daughter of Darkness, Harlot's Moon, and Black River Falls, the latter of which "proves Gorman's mastery of the pure suspense novel," says Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine. ABC-TV has optioned the novel as a movie. Gorman is also the editor of Mystery Scene magazine, which Stephen King calls "indispensable" for mystery readers.

Read More

Product Details

Random House Publishing Group
Publication date:
Inspector Lynley Series, #10
Product dimensions:
6.86(w) x 10.92(h) x 1.18(d)

Read an Excerpt

Julian Britton was a man who knew that his life thus far had amounted to nothing. He bred his dogs, he managed the crumbling ruin that was his family's estate, and daily he tried to lecture his father away from the bottle. That was the extent of it. He hadn't been a success at anything save pouring gin down the drain, and now, at twenty-seven years of age, he felt branded by failure. But he couldn't allow that to affect him tonight. Tonight he had to prevail.

He began with his appearance, giving himself a ruthless scrutiny in his bedroom's cheval glass. He straightened the collar of his shirt and flicked a piece of lint from his shoulder. He stared at his face and schooled his features into the expression he wanted them to wear. He should look completely serious, he decided. Concerned, yes, because concern was reasonable. But he shouldn't look conflicted. And certainly he shouldn't look ripped up inside and wondering how he came to be where he was, at this precise moment, with his world a shambles.

As to what he was going to say, two sleepless nights and two endless days had given Julian plenty of time to rehearse what remarks he wished to make when the appointed hour rolled round. Indeed, it was in elaborate but silent fantasy conversations—tinged with no more worry than was enough to suggest that he had nothing personal invested in the matter—that Julian had spent most of the past two nights and two days that had followed Nicola Maiden's unbelievable announcement. Now, after forty-eight hours engaged in endless colloquies within his own skull, Julian was eager to get on with things, even if he had no assurance that his words would bring the result hewanted.

He turned from the cheval glass and fetched his car keys from the top of the chest of drawers. The fine sheen of dust that usually covered its walnut surface had been removed. This told Julian that his cousin had once again submitted to the cleaning furies, a sure sign that she'd met defeat yet another time in her determined course of sobering up her uncle.

Samantha had come to Derbyshire with just that intention eight months previously, an angel of mercy who'd one day shown up at Broughton Manor with the mission of reuniting a family torn asunder for more than three decades. She hadn't made much progress in that direction, however, and Julian wondered how much longer she was going to put up with his father's bent towards the bottle.

"We've got to get him off the booze, Julie," Samantha had said to him only that morning. "You must see how crucial it is at this point."
Nicola, on the other hand, knowing his father eight years and not merely eight months, had long been of a live-and-let-live frame of mind. She'd said more than once, "If your dad's choice is to drink himself silly, there's nothing you can do about it, Jules. And there's nothing that Sam can do either." But then, Nicola didn't know how it felt to see one's father slipping ever more inexorably towards debauchery, absorbed in intensely inebriated delusions about the romance of his past. She, after all, had grown up in a home where how things seemed was identical to how things actually were. She had two parents whose love never wavered, and she'd never suffered the dual desertion of a flower-child mother flitting off to "study" with a tapestry-clad guru the night before one's own twelfth birthday and a father whose devotion to the bottle far exceeded any attachment he might have displayed towards his three children. In fact, had Nicola ever once cared to analyse the differences in their individual upbringing, Julian thought, she might have seen that every single one of her bloody decisions—

At that he brought his thoughts up short. He would not head in that direction. He could not afford to head in that direction. He could not afford to let his mind wander from the task that was immediately at hand.

"Listen to me." He grabbed his wallet from the chest and shoved it into his pocket. "You're good enough for anyone. She got scared shitless. She took a wrong turn. That's the end of it. Remember that. And remember that everyone knows how good the two of you always were together."

He had faith in this fact. Nicola Maiden and Julian Britton had been part of each other's life for years. Everyone who knew them had long ago concluded that they belonged together. It was only Nicola who, it appeared, had never come to terms with this fact.

"I know that we were never engaged," he'd told her two nights previously in response to her declaration that she was moving away from the Peaks permanently and would only be back for brief visits henceforth. "But we've always had an understanding, haven't we? I wouldn't be sleeping with you if I wasn't serious about... Come on, Nick. Damn it, you know me."

It wasn't the proposal of marriage he'd planned on making to her, and she hadn't taken it as such. She'd said bluntly, "Jules, I like you enormously. You're terrific, and you've been a real friend. And we get on far better than I've ever got on with any other bloke."

"Then you see—"

"But I don't love you," she went on. "Sex doesn't equate to love. It's only in films and books that it does."

He'd been too stunned at first to speak. It was as if his mind had become a blackboard and someone had taken a rubber to it before he had a chance to make any notes. So she'd continued.

She would, she told him, go on being his girlfriend in the Peak District if that's what he wanted. She'd be coming to see her parents now and again, and she'd always have time—and be happy, she said—to see Julian as well. They could even continue as lovers whenever she was in the area if he wished. That was fine by her. But as to marriage? They were too different as people, she explained.

"I know how much you want to save Broughton Manor," she'd said. "That's your dream, and you'll make it come true. But I don't share that dream, and I'm not going to hurt either you or myself by pretending I do. That's not fair on anyone."

Which was when he finally repossessed his wits long enough to say bitterly, "It's the God damn money. And the fact I've got none, or at least not enough to suit your tastes."

"Julian, it isn't. Not exactly." She'd turned from him briefly, giving a long sigh. "Let me explain."

He'd listened for what had seemed like an hour, although she'd likely spoken ten minutes or less. At the end, after everything had been said between them and she'd climbed out of the Rover and disappeared into the dark gabled porch of Maiden Hall, he'd driven home numbly, shell-shocked with grief, confusion, and surprise, thinking No, she couldn't . . . she can't mean No. After Sleepless Night Number One, he'd come to realise—past his own pain—how great was the need for him to take action. He'd phoned, and she'd agreed to see him. She would always, she said, be willing to see him.

He gave a final glance in the mirror before he left the room, and he treated himself to a last affirmation: "You were always good together. Keep that in mind."

He slipped along the dim upstairs passage of the manor house and looked into the small room that his father used as a parlour. His family's increasingly straitened financial circumstances had effected a general retreat from all the larger rooms downstairs that had slowly been made uninhabitable as their various antiques, paintings, and objets d'art were sold to make ends meet. Now the Brittons lived entirely on the house's upper floor. There were abundant rooms for them, but they were cramped and dark.

Jeremy Britton was in the parlour. As it was half past ten, he was thoroughly blotto, head on his chest and a cigarette burning down between his fingers. Julian crossed the room and removed the fag from his father's hand. Jeremy didn't stir.

Julian cursed quietly, looking at him: at the promise of intelligence, vigour, and pride completely eradicated by the addiction. His father was going to burn the place down someday, and there were times—like now—when Julian thought that complete conflagration might be all for the best. He crushed out Jeremy's cigarette and reached into his shirt pocket for the packet of Dunhills. He removed it and did the same with his father's lighter. He grabbed up the gin bottle and left the room.

He was dumping the gin, cigarettes, and lighter into the dustbins at the back of the manor house when he heard her speak.

"Caught him at it again, Julie?"

He started, looked about, but failed to see her in the gloom. Then she rose from where she'd been sitting: on the edge of the drystone wall that divided the back entrance of the manor from the first of its overgrown gardens. An untrimmed wisteria—beginning to lose its leaves with the approach of autumn—had sheltered her. She dusted off the seat of her khaki shorts and sauntered over to join him.

"I'm beginning to think he wants to kill himself," Samantha said in the practical manner that was her nature. "I just haven't come up with the reason why."

"He doesn't need a reason," Julian said shortly. "Just the means."

"I try to keep him off the sauce, but he's got bottles everywhere." She glanced at the dark manor house that rose before them like a fortress in the landscape. "I do try, Julian. I know it's important." She looked back at him and regarded his clothes. "You're looking very smart. I didn't think to dress up. Was I supposed to?"

Julian returned her look blankly, his hands moving to his chest to pat his shirt, searching for something that he knew wasn't there.

"You've forgotten, haven't you?" Samantha said. She was very good at making intuitive leaps.

Julian waited for elucidation.

"The eclipse," she said.

"The eclipse?" He thought about it. He clapped a hand to his forehead. "God. The eclipse. Sam. Hell. I'd forgotten. Is the eclipse tonight? Are you going somewhere to see it better?"

She said with a nod to the spot from which she'd just emerged, "I've got us some provisions. Cheese and fruit, some bread, a bit of sausage. Wine. I thought we might want it if we have to wait longer than you'd thought."

"To wait? Oh hell, Samantha..." He wasn't sure how to put it. He hadn't intended her to think he meant to watch the eclipse with her. He hadn't intended her to think he meant to watch the eclipse at all.

"Have I got the date wrong?" The tone of her voice spoke her disappointment. She already knew that she had the date right and that if she wanted to see the eclipse from Eyam Moor, she was going to have to hike out there alone.

His mention of the lunar eclipse had been a casual remark. At least, that's how he'd intended it to be taken. He'd said conversationally, "One can see it quite well from Eyam Moor. It's supposed to happen round half past eleven. Are you interested in astronomy, Sam?"

Samantha had obviously interpreted this as an invitation, and Julian felt a momentary annoyance with his cousin's presumption. But he did his best to hide it because he owed her so much. It was in the cause of reconciling her mother with her uncle—Julian's father—that she'd been making her lengthy visits to Broughton Manor from Winchester for the past eight months. Each stay had become progressively longer as she found more employment round the estate, either in the renovation of the manor house proper or in the smooth running of the tournaments, fêtes, and reenactments that Julian organised in the grounds as yet another source of Britton income. Her helpful presence had been a real godsend since Julian's siblings had long fled the family nest and Jeremy hadn't lifted a finger since he'd inherited the property—and proceeded to populate it with his fellow flower-children and run it into the ground—shortly after his twenty-fifth birthday.

Still, grateful as Julian was for Sam's help, he wished his cousin hadn't assumed so much. He'd felt guilty about the amount of work she was doing purely from the goodness of her heart, and he'd been casting about aimlessly for some form of repayment. He had no available money to offer her, not that she would have needed or accepted it had he done so, but he did have his dogs as well as his knowledge of and enthusiasm for Derbyshire. And wanting to make her feel welcome for as long as possible at Broughton Manor, he'd offered her the only thing he had: occasional activities with the harriers as well as conversation. And it was a conversation about the eclipse that she had misunderstood.

From the Audio Cassette edition.

Read More

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Write a Review

and post it to your social network


Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews >

In Pursuit of the Proper Sinner (Inspector Lynley Series #10) 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 20 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This series is very good and I have enjoyed them all so far. Hoping to read more and more of them.
Guest More than 1 year ago
One of George's best! Kept one guessing until the end. Especially enjoyed the friction and ultimate resolution between Lynley and Havers. At times just wanted to knock their heads together! The characters are very well developed--the additional insight into each helps the reader understand why the character responds/reacts as s/he does. Looking forward to the next in the series.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This was a good read, but very complicated. There was a lot at the first that didn't make sense until much farther in the book and with a NOOK one can't just flip back to read it over again. The parts where Gideon Davies was writing to his psychiatrist were way too long. Many characters. As I said before, it was a good plot. Havers and Nkata were the main detectives here.
Tigerpaw70 More than 1 year ago
Book 10, in the Inspector Lynley's mystery series Elizabeth George hasn't lost her touch and her work continues to be amazing. She is one of the true masters at spinning webs of intrigue. A swift pace and an engaging protagonist had a stimulating effect on my imagination; it was quite exhilarating trying to guess the next move. This is a mind-absorbing fiction, as powerful and provocative as all the previous ones. This intricate plot and complex tale has D.I. Thomas Lynley on the scene of a grisly crime, in which a young man and woman have been brutally murdered and their bodies found in the wilds of Calder Moor. The case is also a sensitive one, it happens that one of the victims is, Nicola Maiden, the daughter of a former undercover officer and one of Lynley`s past mentors. D.C. Winston Nkata is his lead assistant on the case. His usual partner, Barbara Harvers, has been demoted to Detective Constable for an incident the previous summer and ever since, both have suffered from a strained relationship. Although in the dog house for over stepping her boundaries, Barbara is determined, she is a woman of strong character and not the type to sit on the sideline. With this in mind, she clandestinely starts her own investigation, hoping to prove to Lynley that her renegade attitude can bring positive results and be an asset to his team....When Lynley found out what she was up to, my first reaction was can he take the grrr out of the tiger and get her to follow orders.... As they dig deeper into the life of the two victims, a disturbing pattern emerges, suspects are plentiful, nothing is as it seems and everyone appears to be concealing something. The tension grows as each layer of deceit is peeled away, the result created an intense mystery populated with great characters. I found myself totally engaged till the end, it is a large book but I enjoyed every moment spent with it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The best story I cried. COULD not stop reading wonderful mystery Great author.
whodunitIA More than 1 year ago
We continue to learn more about these beloved characters. They are not prefect. Ms. George combines new characters that are interesting and we learn more about main players. I like to read stories on a series to know the main characters.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I have been reading all of the Inspector Lynley novels in order and I only have one complaint: Upon becoming very familiar with Elizabeth George's writing style, I have trouble being satisfied with other authors. This woman really knows how to pen a story and her characters become so real that you seriously have to remind yourself that these people were formulated in someone's head. Kudos to you Ms. George, but you have set my standards of expectations really, really high. So very many authors just can't reach it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
joybeing More than 1 year ago
The author powerfully creates characters that live and breathe. She weaves together the lives of seemingly disparate people, drawing them together to create a suspenseful and dramatic story. As the story continues to develop the author brings the reader into the inner world of each character to understand the needs, drives, and ultimate choices that have determined their actions. I return again and again to Elizabeth George for the sheer pleasure of reading her stories and in appreciation of her exceptional writing.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
Ms. George gets better with evey book. This book had me in complete suspense. I had guessed the wrong person. Who did it? All the clues go one way and your mind goes another. That's what I love about her books.