Sunday, February 13, 2011

This Body of Death

This Body of Death
Elizabeth George
Mass Market Paperback
ISBN: 978-0-06-204485-3
976 pages
$ 9.99

Death is seldom simple. When investigating a murder, it unravels the victim’s life and usually leaves the faults of the individual with any possible negative choices being blatantly exposed for the investigators.

A woman is found brutally murdered in a cemetery. Apparently she chose to meet someone there. Why would anyone meet someone in a graveyard? That is the question that Scotland Yard is asking. With no identification, the only clue the investigators have is the oddity that she has eyes that are two different colors, one blue and one brown.

At this same time Meredith Powell decides that old grudges are not worth the cost of a friendship. For her previous friend’s birthday, she baked a cake. However when she went to deliver the gift, the business her friend owned was empty and she could not find her. She even went to her friend’s brother, who also could not find Jemima Hastings.

Investigating this crime are many characters from George’s previous novels, Thomas Lynley, Barbara Havers, and Winston Nkata. Lynley is returning after the death of his wife. Barbara Havers, the mistress of dowdiness, is having style conflicts with the new acting superintendent, and Nkata still follows the rules and tries to smooth over the awkward situations.

This story involves a crime within a crime. Numerous topics are addressed such as juvenile delinquents, the apprenticeship for roof thatchers, the government’s secrecy program for those in systems like the witness protection programs, buried Roman treasures, mask making, agisters who protect the ponies on the nature preserve that William the Conqueror founded in the eleventh century, and paranoia are all combined into this cohesively interwoven mystery.

The one problem I found disturbing was when a violinist was hurt, no one cared about his violin. Musicians feel that the instrument is an extension of them, especially professionals.

Even though the novel was lengthy, there was not one time when I was not wondering about how this story could conclude. If you have not read previous novels by Elizabeth George, I would not recommend that you start with this one. Read some of her much earlier works to really attach and understand these characters. For those of us Elizabeth George fans, I was pleased that this novel is returning to her previous style and not as depressing as her other recently published mysteries.

To keep a story interesting and engaging for almost a thousand pages is an immense task. Elizabeth George succeeded and excelled with This Body of Death.

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