A Suitable Vengeance (Inspector Lynley Series #4)

( 27 )

Overview

Award-winning author Elizabeth George gives us an early glimpse into the lives of Detective Inspector Thomas Lynley, forensic scientist Simon Allcourt-St. James, and Lady Helen Clyde in a superlative mystery that is also a fascinating inquiry into the crimes of the heart. Lynley, the eighth earl of Asherton, has brought to Howenstow, his family home, the young woman he has asked to be his bride. But the savage murder of a local journalist is the catalyst for a lethal series of events that shatters the calm of a ...
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A Suitable Vengeance (Inspector Lynley Series #4)

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Overview

Award-winning author Elizabeth George gives us an early glimpse into the lives of Detective Inspector Thomas Lynley, forensic scientist Simon Allcourt-St. James, and Lady Helen Clyde in a superlative mystery that is also a fascinating inquiry into the crimes of the heart. Lynley, the eighth earl of Asherton, has brought to Howenstow, his family home, the young woman he has asked to be his bride. But the savage murder of a local journalist is the catalyst for a lethal series of events that shatters the calm of a picturesque Cornwall village and embroils Lynley and St. James in a case far outside their jurisdiction—and a little too close to home. When a second death follows closely on the heels of the first, Lynley finds he can't help taking the investigation personally—because the evidence points to a killer within his own family.

From the Paperback edition.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
It's a little too long, but this rich, engrossing novel portrays a contemporary England that's culturally complex and simmering with tension. The star is moody police sergeant Barbara Havers, who's on leave from New Scotland Yard to recuperate from injuries suffered in In the Presence of the Enemy (1996) while Detective Inspector Thomas Lynley and Helen Clyde honeymoon. When her neighbors, microbiologist Taymullah Azhar and his endearing young daughter, Hadiyyah, leave London to visit his family in Balford-le-Nez on the Essex coast, Havers follows themout of boredom, curiosity and a little suspicion. She's also concerned for Hadiyyah, aware of riots that followed the recent murder of a Pakistani immigrant in Balford. In Balford, Chief Detective Inspector Emily Barlow asks Havers to help investigate the crime that sparked those riots. The murdered man, Haytham Querashi, was engaged to the daughter of Azhar's wealthy uncle, the sister of a hot-headed Muslim activist named Muhannad. Although the killing has racial overtones, other motives ariselove, jealousy, sexuality, religion, greed. Smuggling, burglary and other crimes also come to light. Hidden in the plot are subtle clues to the solution, which hinges on Muslim law and tradition. Havers astutely identifies the murderer but risks her career when she countermands orders from the ambitious, bigoted Barlow during a heart-stopping boat chase in the North Sea. This is an unusually elaborate and intricate mystery, but George keeps an unrelenting grip on her readers as the police constantly shift their focus among a dozen well-drawn suspects. (Aug.)
Library Journal
Popular detective duo Thomas Lynley and Barbara Havers, last spotted in In the Presence of the Enemy (LJ 2/1/96), find murder in a small Essex village.
School Library Journal
YADetective Barbara Havers is now on her own. Her partner, the glamorous Lord Lynley, and the even more glamorous Lady Helen are off on their honeymoon and the decidedly less-than-glamorous Havers is to recuperate from extensive wounds suffered in their previous case. She declines an invitation by her neighbor and good friend, eight-year-old Hadiyyah, to join her and her somewhat remote professorial father on a trip to the seaside. Somewhat to her chagrin, however, Havers finds herself worrying about the ostensibly naive father as she hears disturbing news of murder and racial unrest in the same coastal town. She goes to Balford only to land in the middle of a tangled web woven around the murder of the fianc of the young daughter of a wealthy Pakistani business man. The plot is well developed, the red herrings many and varied, and the social commentary on the racial unease in England is well handled. Havers emerges as a more sympathetic character here, and readers get the feeling she is beginning to "get a life." YAs will enjoy the engrossing mystery with deft characterizations.Susan H. Woodcock, Kings Park Library, Burke, VA
Kirkus Reviews
Bestselling George, in a ninth outing, takes on race relations in the moribund Essex resort of Balford-le-Nez. Melancholic Sgt. Barbara Havers, convalescing after the violence of In the Presence of the Enemy (1996), repairs to this seaside town when her sympathetic Pakistani neighbor at home, Taymullah Azhar, is called to Balford-le-Nez to assist with a crisis—a "small family matter," he says, following the murder of an affluent immigrant about to marry into the even more affluent Maliks of Malik's Mustards & Assorted Accompaniments. Discovering that an old mate, the high-powered Emily "Beast" Barlow, is in charge of the case, Barbara volunteers her way into a liaison position when contentious Muhannad Malik, son of conservative corporate patriarch Akram, charges police prejudice and demands day-by-day accountability. Fired by a hotter English summer than any recently recorded, several plot ingredients simmer: daughter Sahlah Malik's Romeo-and- Juliet relationship with developer Theo Shaw, grandson of wealthy bigot Agatha Shaw; Sahlah's Juliet-and-Juliet relationship with a scheming shopgirl; and the Romeo-and-Romeo relationship of Haytham Querashi, Sahlah's murdered fiancé, with the boyfriend of his hired contractor. Though George manages to include a sea chase with her customary scenes of angst and accusation, she concludes the case with oddly scant reference to some important individuals—among others, Sahlah.

A vital issue is badly served by moralizing, predictable characterizing, Anglo-Saxon attitudizing (so much slang), and preoccupation with the weather (so much sweat). Ruth Rendell, in 1995's Simisola, explored the complexities of racial prejudice with less pretension and greater finesse.

From the Publisher
"George is a master...an outstanding practitioner of the modern English mystery."—Chicago Tribune

"Ms. George proves that the classiest crime writers are true novelists."—The New York Times

"Ms. George can do it all, with style to spare."—The Wall Street Journal

"A master of the modern English mystery."—Entertainment Weekly

From the Paperback edition.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780553750874
  • Publisher: Random House Audio Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 7/5/2000
  • Series: Inspector Lynley Series , #4
  • Format: MP3
  • Edition description: Abridged
  • Sales rank: 1,133,796
  • Ships to U.S.and APO/FPO addresses only.

Meet the Author

Elizabeth George

Elizabeth George's first novel, A Great Deliverance, was honored with the Anthony and Agatha Best First Novel Awards and received the Grand Prix de Littérature Policière. Her third novel, Well-Schooled in Murder, was awarded the prestigious German prize for suspense fiction, the MIMI. A Suitable Vengeance, For the Sake of Elena, Missing Joseph, Playing for the Ashes, In the Presence of the Enemy, Deception on His Mind, In Pursuit of the Proper Sinner, A Traitor to Memory, and I, Richard were international bestsellers. Elizabeth George divides her time between Huntington Beach, California, and London. Her novels are currently being dramatized by the BBC.

Elizabeth George's first novel, A Great Deliverance, was honored with the Anthony and Agatha Best First Novel Awards and received the Grand Prix de Littérature Policière. Her third novel, Well-Schooled in Murder, was awarded the prestigious German prize for suspense fiction, the MIMI. A Suitable Vengeance, For the Sake of Elena, Missing Joseph, Playing for the Ashes, In the Presence of the Enemy, Deception on His Mind, In Pursuit of the Proper Sinner, A Traitor to Memory, and I, Richard were international bestsellers. Elizabeth George divides her time between Huntington Beach, California, and London. Her novels are currently being dramatized by the BBC.

Biography

Elizabeth George was happy that her first novel was rejected.

Scratch that. She's happy now. At the time, it wasn't her best day. But the notes from her editor helped her realize that she had written the wrong book and chosen the wrong leading man. She threw out her Agatha-Christie/drawing-room-whodunit model in favor of a more modern police procedural set in the world of Scotland Yard. She promoted a minor character to her leading man, the handsome, aristocratic, Bentley-driving Thomas Lynley. And she invented a partner for him, the blue-collar, foul-mouthed, messy Barbara Havers.

"I was very lucky when the first one was rejected, because the editor explained to me why," George told the Los Angeles Times in 1999. "I had written a very Agatha Christie-esque book and she said that wasn't the way it was done. The modern crime novel doesn't have the detective call everyone into the library. It must deal with more topical crimes and the motives must be more psychological because the things you kill for are different now. Things like getting rid of a spouse who won't divorce you, or hiding an illegitimate child, or blackmail over a family scandal -- those are no longer realistic motivations."

And so, in A Great Deliverance, her first published novel, she opens with the decapitated body of a farmer, his blood-splattered daughter holding an ax, the horrified clergyman who happens on to the crime scene, and a rat feasting on the remains. Nope, not in Agatha Christie territory anymore.

George began writing as child when her mother gave her an old 1939 typewriter. When she graduated from high school, she graduated to an electric typewriter. But not until she graduated to a home computer (purchased by her husband in the 1983), did she actually try her hand at a novel. At the time, she was a schoolteacher and had been since 1974. But with the computer in front of her, she has said, it was put-up-or-shut-up time. She finished her first manuscript in 1983. But her first book wasn't published for five more years.

Though the Lynley/Havers novels are set in England -- as are the tales in her first book of short stories, 2002's I, Richard -- George is a Yank, born in Ohio and raised in Southern California. Maintaining a flat in London's South Kensington as a home base for research, George has been an Anglophile since a trip as a teenager to the United Kingdom, where she ultimately found that a British setting better served the fiction that she wanted to write. "The English tradition offers the great tapestry novel," she told Publishers Weekly in 1996, "where you have the emotional aspect of a detective's personal life, the circumstances of the crime and, most important, the atmosphere of the English countryside that functions as another character."

Readers have made her books standard features on the bestseller lists, and critics have noted the psychologically deft motives of her characters and her detailed, well-researched plotting. "A behemoth, staggering in depth and breadth, A Traitor to Memory leaves you simultaneously satisfied and longing for more. It's simply a supreme pleasure to spend time engrossed in this intense, well-written novel," the Miami Herald said in 2001. The Washington Post called 1990's Well-Schooled in Murder " a bewitching book, exasperatingly clever, and with a complex plot that must be peeled layer by layer like an onion." The Los Angeles Times once called her "the California author who does Britain as well as P.D. James." And in 1996, Entertainment Weekly placed George's eighth novel, In the Presence of the Enemy in their fiction top ten list of the year, where she kept company with John Updike, Frank McCourt, Stephen King, and Jon Krakauer.

In her mind, each book begins with the killer, the victim and the motive. She travels to London and stays at her flat there to research locales. And she writes long profiles about what drives her characters psychologically. The kick for the reader isn't necessarily whodunit but why they dun it.

"I don't mind if they know who the killer is," she has said. "I'm happy to surprise them with the psychology behind the crime. I'm interested in the dark side of man. I'm interested in taboos, and murder is the greatest taboo. Characters are fascinating in their extremity not in their happiness."

Good To Know

The original model for Lynley was Nigel Havers, the nobleman and hurdle-jumper in the film Chariots of Fire whose butler placed champagne flutes on the hurdles to keep him from knocking them over. She named Barbara Havers as an homage to the actor.

On page 900 of the rough draft for Deception on His Mind, George changed her mind about the identity of the killer.

George's ex-husband is her business manager.

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

Read an Excerpt

PROLOGUE

Tina Cogin knew how to make the most of what little she had. She liked to believe it was a natural talent.

Some floors above the rumble of nighttime traffic, her naked silhouette gargoyled against the wall of her half-darkened room, and she smiled as her movements made the shadow shift, creating ever new forms of black upon white like a Rorschach test. And what a test, she thought, practicing a gesture of come-hither quality. What a sight for some psycho!

Chuckling at her talent for self-deprecation, she went to the chest of drawers and affectionately appraised her collection of underwear. She pretended hesitation to prolong her enjoyment before reaching for an appealing arrangement of black silk and lace. Bra and briefs, they'd been made in France, cleverly designed with unobtrusive padding. She donned them both. Her fingers felt clumsy, largely unused to such delicate clothing.

She began to hum quietly, a throaty sound without identifiable melody. It served as a paean to the evening, to three days and nights of unrestricted freedom, to the excitement of venturing out into the streets of London without knowing precisely what would come of the night's mild summertime promise. She slid a long, painted fingernail under the sealed flap of a package of stockings, but when she shook them out, they caught against skin that was more work-hardened than she liked to admit. The material snagged. She allowed herself a single-word curse, freed the stocking from her skin, and examined the damage, an incipient ladder high on the inner thigh. She would have to be more careful.

As she pulled on the stockings, her eyelids lowered, and she sighed with pleasure. The material slid so easily against her skin. She savored the sensation--it felt just like a lover's caress--and heightened her own pleasure by running her hands from ankles to calves to thighs to hips. Firm, she thought, nice. And she paused to admire her shape in the cheval glass before removing a black silk petticoat from the chest of drawers.

The gown that she took from the wardrobe was black. The neck high, the sleeves long, she had purchased it solely for the manner in which it clung to her body like a midnight liquid. A belt cinched in its waist; a profusion of jet beadwork decorated its bodice. It was a Knightsbridge creation whose cost--mounting on all the other calls upon her finances--had finally precluded the indulgence of travel by taxi for the rest of the summer. But that inconvenience was no matter, really. Tina knew that some things ultimately pay for themselves.

She slid her feet into black high-heeled pumps before finally switching on the lamp next to the daybed to illuminate a simple bed-sitting-room with the sole delicious luxury of a private bath. On her first trip to London all those months ago--newly married and looking for a haven of escape--she had made the mistake of taking a room in the Edgware Road where she'd shared the bath with a floor of smiling Greeks, all eager to observe the ins and outs of her personal hygiene. After that experience, sharing so much as a wash basin with another human being had been inconceivable to her, and although the additional cost of a private bath had presented something of a challenge at first, she had managed to surmount it in a competent fashion.

She made a final assessment of her makeup and gave approval to eyes correctly shadowed in order to accentuate their color and correct their shape, to brows darkened and brushed into an arch, to cheekbones shaded artfully to soften what would otherwise be a rectangular face, to...

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Table of Contents

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 27 )
Rating Distribution

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(11)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 27 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 4, 2013

    Lord....this woman knows how to pull a plot together!!! Back in

    Lord....this woman knows how to pull a plot together!!! Back in the '90s, I listened to a few of her novels on tape. I recently decided to go back to number one in the "Lynley" series and read each one in order. I just completed #4 and I love these characters so much that I cannot order the next book fast enough.

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  • Posted April 27, 2012

    Highly recommended

    Good backstory for those readers who have read more recent Inspector Lynley series books.

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  • Posted March 12, 2012

    highly recommend

    fantastic book and very well written. If you enjoy classic english murder mysteries this is a must read. There is a great TV series adapted from the series

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 8, 2011

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 23, 2009

    no no no

    I've read the prior three books in the series and enjoyed them, but I just couldn't get past the first 50 pages this time.
    Maybe the plot would have gotten interesting if I had gotten further into the book, but the characters at this stage in their lives were just too annoying.

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  • Posted February 16, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    best one

    I've read all of her books except the one that explains why the wife dies (I was told not to read it) This to me was the best. Reasons- very engaging plot that explores racial tensions in UK as well as women-boss' issues. It is long, vocab is higher level. For the right person, it is great.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 11, 2003

    Good read

    This is another good book in the line of great George mysteries. This one, however, is a bit different. As a part of the Lynley/Havers series, this book is definitely recommended. However, this book, especially the personal storyline is a bit too sentimental, a little too far-fetched with the familial angle; a bit sappy too. But the mystery storyline is, as always, deeply satisfying.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 9, 2002

    Learn about Inspector Lynley's past: A Great Mystery.

    ***** ~ ~ Perfect for all: old fans and New to Elizabeth George,too: This could be read as the "first" in the series, although it wasn't written first. It is definitely one of her best. . ***** ~ ~ This book, in chronological sequence of Lynley's life, "happened" before any of the "Lynley/Havers" mysteries. Excellent for those Lynley fans who want to know: What did happen between Thomas and Deborah? Simon and Deborah? ~ ~ Atthe start, Deborah has just returned from college, home to her father (living with Simon). She announces her engagement to Tommy Lynley. They are going to his ancestral home, bringing a reluctant Simon, and a grimly cheerful Lady Helen as guests. Meanwhile Simon's young sister Sydney,has troubles with n abusive man. Tommy's younger brother may be using drugs. Why are Tommy and his mother alienated? Who's the mysterious woman that appears without a trace? ~ ~ When murder happens on the estate, all these story lines converge and intertwine in a way that explores the relationships, old and new of this extended "family" . - The resolution of the mystery was one of George's most inspired. As usual, the story is so intricate, it's difficult to imagine the difficulty of spinning this web. Even more important to me, was the resolution of, at least some of the interpersonal conflicts. ~ ~ OK, I admit, I cried at the "happy" ending! ***** 5 stars! This is an outstanding book for all mystery fans.

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    Posted March 30, 2012

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    Posted March 29, 2011

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    Posted July 12, 2010

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    Posted April 9, 2010

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    Posted January 8, 2013

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    Posted March 12, 2012

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