Reader reviews for In Pursuit of the Proper Sinner

Well written - kept me guessing.
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I love the way George weaves themes through her plots and subplots. Control was the issue here - who has it, who doesn’t and what anyone does to keep it. How much control can you have over any one person? Sin and guilt is also a strong theme and the “proper” sinner - who’s really in the wrong. Lynley deals with the outfall of Havers previous investigation as well as searches out the murderer of a former colleague’s daughter. Some of the subplots are left open - I don’t know if they’re just glimpses of people’s lives to mislead our eye from the culprit, to confuse things or if George is going to pick them up in later books. Some of them I really want to find out what’s going to happen! Like in this one - what’s going to happen with Julian Britton, his dad and his cousin!?
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Despite being over 700 pages, this doesnt feel that long. Havers finally hears of the results of the investigation into what caused her suspension in a previous book, and things arent good: Demoted to Constable, with Lynley now frustrated with and no longer believing in her, she's put on desk duties when Lynley and Winstone go to Derbyshire to investigate the death of an ex-policeman's daughter. Naturally, she doesnt follow orders, which puts added friction between her and her boss, as well as putting strain between Lynley and his new wife.Meanwhile, there's a killer who has struck twice, and there are plenty of suspects.
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Though I love this series in general, this entry wasn't one of my favorites. Lynley and Havers are at odds with each other over Barbara's actions in a previous case. I felt like they were both acting rather childishly and felt like they both could have dealt with this disagreement better. The plot of the mystery annoyed me a bit too. We seemed to spend a chapter of two developing each character as the possible culprit, only to move on to the next one later. But I will move on to the next entry in the series, hoping to feel happier about it.
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Calder Moor is a wild and deadly place: many have been trapped in the myriad limestone caves, lost in collapsed copper mines, injured on perilous gritstone ridges. But this time, when two bodies are discovered in the shadow of the ancient circle of stones known as Nine Sisters Henge, it is clearly not a case for Mountain Rescue. The corpses are those of a young man and woman. Each met death in a different fashion. Each died violently. To Detective Inspector Thomas Lynley, brought in to investigate by special request, this grisly crime promises to be one of the toughest assignments of his career. For the unfortunate Nicola Maiden was the daughter of a former officer in an elite undercover unit, a man Lynley once regarded as a mentor. Now, as Lynley struggles to find out if Nicola's killer was an enemy of her father's or one she earned herself, a disgraced Barbara Havers, determined to redeem herself in the eyes of her longtime partner, crisscrosses London seeking information on the second murder victim. Yet the more dark secrets Lynley and Havers uncover, the more they learn that neither the victims nor the suspects are who they appear to be. And once again they come up against the icy realization that human relationships are often murderous...and that the blood that binds can also kill.
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The theme of this addition to the mystery series featuring New Scotland Yard Detectives Thomas Lynley and Barbara Havers is best expressed by the author’s epigraph: “’How sharper than a serpent’s tooth it is, To have a thankless child!’ – King Lear.” (The irony of her dedication “In loving memory of my father” is not lost.) Many of the characters seem to have father issues – with either literal or symbolic fathers – and therein lies the rub. And of course there are a variety of murders. Complicating the solving of these crimes, however, is a tension between Lynley and Havers as a result of Havers’ escapades detailed in George’s previous book, “Deception on His Mind.” I don’t believe I’d always feel totally clued in had I not read the preceding book, but on the other hand, it wouldn’t have mattered much. George is writing in good form again, with a great talent for pithy and witty descriptions that capture a character – or even two at once. For instance, in describing Samantha McCallin’s feelings for her father, George writes: “not that Samantha didn’t mourn her father’s passing herself. She did. But she’d long ago seen that Douglas McCallin’s first love was the family biscuit factory – not the family itself – and consequently his death seemed more like an extension of his normal working hours than a permanent parting.” Or there is this observation by Barbara Havers when she confronts a female suspect for the first time: “Her wide eyes looked black, but a lengthier look at them revealed that her pupils were so enlarged that they covered all but a thin edge of iris. The effect was disconcerting, but it was also revealing. Drugs, Barbara realized. Tsk, tsk, tsk. No wonder she was jumpy, with the cops on her doorstep.”The book begins with two grisly murders in Calder Moor (“a wild and deadly place”) in Derbyshire. The plot proceeds with the usual sex, violence, and attempts at personal relationships throughout, and ends up with a general reconciliation of the characters. No surprises there. But George’s execution makes it an exercise worth taking.Protagonists:Julian Britton, his alcoholic father Jeremy, and his cousin SamanthaNicola Maiden, her ex-undercover-agent father Andy and her mother NancyDetective Inspector Thomas Lynley and his wife Helen, Countess of AshertonSimon St. James, forensic scientist, Lynley’s oldest friend, and his wife DeborahDetective Inspector Peter Hanken of Buxton in the Calder Moor areaDetective Constable Winston Nkata, who works with both Lynley and HaversDetective Constable Barbara Havers (she was recently demoted)Taymullah Azhar and his daughter Hadiyyah, Barbara’s neighborsTerence Cole, Vi Nevin, and Shelly Platt, protoges of NicolaMatthew King-Ryder, a truly thankless child of thirty or so(JAF)
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Listened to this one. Really liked it.
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This is the 10th of the Inspector Lynley novels. It took me longer than usual to read this one - not quite sure why. It's a good book. Havers (my favorite character) starts the novel in disgrace from the previous book, and she spends this entire book trying to redeem herself in her own special way. A former undercover agent's daughter is murdered in the countryside, and Lynley is called in to solve the mystery. As with all of her books, George shows us sides of characters we wouldn't expect to see. It's not until the end that you'll learn who the murderer is, and the motive will surprise you too.
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When two bodies are found in a prehistoric stone circle questions are asked why they died. As the police start digging into the characters you find that the lives of the characters are convoluted and involved and very human. Add to that some backgrounded stuff with Lynley and one of his underlings Barbara Havers and you find that the long book travels quite quickly.I enjoyed the read, it could maybe have been edited a bit down from the over 700 pages but I'm not sure you'd have lost a lot of information. Made me inclined to find more of this series.
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As a mystery, this book feels like it cheats to me, since most sideways of references to what turns out to be the motive for murder doesn't come up until around page 300, halfway through the book. But this only bothered me intellectually (my guess for the murderer was flat-out wrong, of course), since the novel itself was gripping enough that I was emotionally involved the entire time. (And, of course, 300 pages with that motive in play is longer than many whole novels.) Like the best of George's Lynley novels, In Pursuit of the Proper Sinner is as much an investigation into the murdered as the murderer, a character that everybody knew but no one knew. The constant peeling back really worked, and though Lynley and Havers's relationship here is fractious, it's back in the book. My favorite of the three Lynley novels I read this summer by far. (But why does Elizabeth George think that "role" has a circumflex over the o? Every time I read "rôle" I'm knocked right out of the story as I rôll my eyes.)
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