She’s back. Well…. almost.
I’d been a fan for ages but things went downhill markedly after the death of one of the main characters. Since then our two leads seemed like shadows of their former selves and I was almost tempted to give up on them completely. Almost.
Just One Evil Act, released in 2013 saw a return to the form I remembered and George’s well and truly built on that in her latest novel, Banquet of Consequences.
Inspector Lynley investigates the London end of an ever more darkly disturbing case, with Barbara Havers and Winston Nkata looking behind the peaceful façade of country life to discover a twisted world of desire and deceit.
The suicide of William Goldacre is devastating to those left behind. But what was the cause of his tragedy and how far might the consequences reach? Is there a link between the young man’s leap from a Dorset cliff and a horrific poisoning in Cambridge?
Following various career-threatening misdemeanours, Detective Sergeant Barbara Havers is desperate to redeem herself. So when a past encounter with bestselling feminist writer Clare Abbott and her pushy personal assistant Caroline Goldacre gives her a connection to the Cambridge murder, Barbara begs DI Thomas Lynley to let her pursue the crime.
Not only are Tommy and Barbara more like the Lynley and Havers of my memories but the whodunit at hand is fabulous.
Interestingly, we probably spend as much (if not more) time with the cast of this latest mystery as we do with our friends from Scotland Yard. But that’s fine. In fact it’s great. I’m not sure if that’s what had been missing from her recent work, but George manages to keep us engrossed in the unfolding plot while providing the usual snippets into Tommy and Barbara’s personal lives.
Havers isn’t as prickly as she’s been of late. I never minded the huge chip she carried on her shoulder, but she’d kinda become belligerent and unlikeable so it’s nice to see her back to just being her usual awkward self. And Tommy’s a tad less pathetic than he’s been in recent times.
Old favourite Simon St John appears just briefly and his wife / Lynley’s butler etc not at all. I found the exchange between Lynley and his long-time best friend rather stilted, but thankfully it was one of just a few reminders that the Elizabeth George (or Lord Lynley) of old is yet to completely appear in all of her (their) glory.
But it’s the plot itself which is the winner here. The troubles facing the Goldacre family take us back over three years and we get a glimpse of events over that time before the incident which involves Scotland Yard.
We’re offered a range of characters facing a myriad of issues. Marriages are breaking up, affairs are being had, revenge is being exacted and people are breaking down.
So… a rollicking good time then. And there are quite a few twists and turns along the way.
All in all a great return to form by George and I have my fingers crossed it continues.
I received copies of this book from the publisher for review purposes.