Book review: The Punishment She Deserves by Elizabeth George

Friday, April 13, 2018 Permalink

I’ve read all of Elizabeth George’s series featuring the bedraggled Barbara Havers and intellectual and aristocratic Thomas Lynley. Indeed, I very much loved their early outings and devotedly awaited the release of each new adventure.

I must admit, however, to losing interest at the same time Lynley’s (then) wife was killed. And, oops sorrry, #spoileralert – though I’m pretty sure the statue of limitations on that ran out many years ago. Interestingly I really didn’t like Helen anyway, but like my other favourite Scotland Yard detective (Richard Jury from Martha Grimes’ series) Lynley’s taste in women went from bad to inexplicable for a while there.

And all of the characters I’d come to know and love seemed to disappear as a whole new cast appeared.

Although I still don’t ‘get’ DCI Isabelle Ardery, she becomes slightly more palateable in this outing. Eventually. And I was happier that Lynley (also eventually) played a stronger role than he has in recent books in the series.

Book review: The Punishment She Deserves by Elizabeth GeorgeThe Punishment She Deserves
by Elizabeth George
Series: Inspector Lynley #20
Published by Hodder & Stoughton
on March 6th 2018
Source: Hachette Australia
Genres: Crime Fiction, Police Procedural
ISBN: 144478661X, 9781444786620
Pages: 608

When a Member of Parliament shows up in the office of the Assistant Commissioner at New Scotland Yard, trouble quickly follows. He is there to request an investigation into the suicide of the son of one of his constituents in the medieval town of Ludlow, who happens to be a wealthy brewer with a team of solicitors ready to file a major lawsuit over the death.

The Assistant Commissioner sees two opportunities in this request: the first is to have an MP owing him a favour, and the second is to get rid of Detective Sergeant Barbara Havers, whose career at the Met has been hanging by a thread for quite some time. So he assigns Barbara Havers to the case and partners her not with her regular partner but with the one person who shares his enthusiasm for ridding the Metropolitan Police of Barbara Havers, Detective Chief Superintendent Isabelle Ardery.

But Ardery has her own difficulties, the most heartbreaking of which is the loss of her twin sons to a move to New Zealand. She is not happy to be sent away from London and as a result is in a rush to return. This rush causes her to overlook things, important things, and prevents her from uncovering an earlier crime that set everything in motion.

The relationship between Lynley and Havers has always been the drawcard of these books (for me). Havers makes more of an effort than she used to (to play nicely with others) but Lynley – who used to seemingly only tolerate her – ‘gets’ her now and appreciates her quirks as much as her strengths. And it occurred to me that she’s far more comfortable in her relationship with him than she was many many outings ago.

I enjoyed the plot on offer in this book, although we get several for the price of one as Lynley and Havers look into the allegations which lead to the arrest of the man who (allegedly) suicides while in police custody.

George serves up we readers an array of characters – all with their own stories and secrets and does a pretty good job of keeping some of them from us for most of the novel.

There’s actually something rather sad about the way the case ends… something that didn’t need to happen, but does nonetheless. I couldn’t decide whether I liked the understated way we’re left with a sense of remorse, or if perhaps George should have made more of the sad irony and senseless waste (of time, energy and lives).

Either way, it’s an enjoyable read, although (at 600+ pages) possibly a little longer than it needed to be.

The Punishment She Deserves by Elizabeth George was published in Australia by Hachette and is now available.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher for review purposes.



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