Award-winning author Elizabeth George gives us an early glimpse into the lives f Detective Inspector Thomas Lynley, forensic scientist Simon Allcourt-St. James, and Lady Helen Clyde in a superlative new 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 jurisdictionand 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 personallybecause the evidence points to a killer within his own family.
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.)