Reader reviews for A Great Deliverance

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To this day, the low, thin wail of an infant can be heard in Keldale's lush green valleys. Three hundred years ago, as legend goes, the frightened Yorkshire villagers smothered a crying babe in Keldale Abbey, where they'd hidden to escape the ravages of Cromwell's raiders.Now into Keldale's pastoral web of old houses and older secrets comes Scotland Yard Inspector Thomas Lynley, the eighth earl of Asherton. Along with the redoubtable Detective Sergeant Barbara Havers, Lynley has been sent to solve a savage murder that has stunned the peaceful countryside. For fat, unlovely Roberta Teys has been found in her best dress, an axe in her lap, seated in the old stone barn beside her father's headless corpse. Her first and last words were "I did it. And I'm not sorry."Yet as Lynley and Havers wind their way through Keldale's dark labyrinth of secret scandals and appalling crimes, they uncover a shattering series of revelations that will reverberate through this tranquil English valley—and in their own lives as well.
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It's exciting to love the first book of a series, knowing that you have many more to read. Elizabeth George is an American writer writing a British police inspector mystery that had my fingers burning from the pace of turning pages. Her series characters--handsome, wealthy, titled Inspector Thomas Lynley; drab, bitter Sergeant Barbara Havers; Lynley's friend, physically-broken Simon Allcourt-St. James and his beautiful bride Deborah; wise, but unhappily married Superintendent Malcolm Webberly-- all intrigued me from the beginning, as did the assorted suspects. Father Hart, a priest in Yorkshire, arrives at Scotland Yard with photos of a beheaded corpse. The victim's daughter, Roberta, has admitted to using an ax on his, and she's "not sorry." No one in the village suspects Roberta actually performed the murder, but who then? Webberly sends Lynley and Havers to investigate the murder. Because of her angry attitude and outbursts, Havers has been busted to uniformed police; this is her last chance to make it as an inspector. Webberly says she can learn something from Lynley, whom she despises, viewing him as a wealthy playboy and snob. Suspects include the deceased runaway wife, Tessa, and runaway daughter, Gillian, a nephew who benefits from the will, and a local artist, who was caught trespassing on the victim's property. Elizabeth George manages to make all these and almost every other character plausibly suspicious. Although I was able to guess the murderer and motive before the end of the novel, there were still surprises galore. Insights into the psychology of Lynley and Havers, as well as the development of their relationship, which will probably never be a romance, and the excellent writing make this a very satisfying literary mystery.
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For me, these books are a bit of a guilty pleasure, in that some of the writing is sub-par, particularly in this book the depiction of the two American tourists. I had to rush past those bits in order to keep going, along with the love scenes between Deborah and SImon. Ugh. However, this attests to the power of the rest of the story, including the mystery itself and the beginning relationship between Havers and Lynley. Picturing the two actors from the BBC television series, Nathaniel Parker and Sharon Small, both helps and hurts as you read. He is not blonde, but otherwise perfect for his role as the earl/detective. However, Sharon Small is much too pretty and tiny to be much like the descriptions of the fat, terribly unattractive Sgt. Havers of the novels. The desolation of the rural characters' lives in their small village is well portrayed in the novel, as is the pain felt by both Barbara and Thomas throughout their investigation. Of course the push and pull of their relationship is the crux of the series, and is somehow compelling enough to make me want to read the entire series start to finish. That's why I've returned to this book, the first of the series, after reading one other.
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I've read a few of the books and seen a lot of the TV series so I thought I'd read more of the books.This is where Lynley and Havers team up. She has a chip on her shoulder about him because he's wealthy and it appears he's bought his way to where he is and she's also had to fight traditional male dominance in her post. Lynley also has a reputation for being a bit of a ladies man.They're teamed up to investigate a murder of a man whose daughter was found with the murder weapon, an axe in hand, but the why is important to discover. I got the why pretty early in the story for myself, it was following the developing relationship between Havers and Lynley that really caught my interest. A good read, but there were moments that fell a bit flat.
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Wow. This is a pretty terrible book; maybe I've missed something, because nearly all the other reviewers seem to like it, but I thought it was extremely bad. All the characters seem to live in soap-opera world, where everything is big and overblown (the American couple are extremely LOUD and OBNOXIOUS and don't fit into the plot at all, everyone - EVERYONE - has DEEP DARK secrets that come to light at the overblown climax, and the confession at the end is unbearably written with the most inane, fictional, could-not-be-farther-from-actual-reality "crazy person" dialogue). It was like an episode of scooby doo, with more gore and tortured characters. George managed to shoe in a really remarkable number of tragic backstories, which for a novel with a relatively short character list, is impressive. But by impressive I mean unbearably dull. Why is Havers so unprofessionally angry and vindictive all the time? Because of her sad personal life? Because she actually comes off as a total psycho, with motives that don't match the petty ferocity of her words. Why is Lynley so perfect, but just tragic enough to be the quintessential broken hero? Does Elizabeth George want to jump him? Why is the dialogue so convoluted? Why do none of the characters operate like real people? Why is there so much melodrama? Why was this book published? Why did I finish reading it???
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This was George's first Inspector Lynley novel. It was an intense, disturbing read due to the crimes involved, but that said, George handled her material with compelling detail including rich plot and character development. The theme of the book was how each of the characters dealt with the damage done to them by past experiences. Fortunately by the end of the book the two main characters, Lynley & Sargent Havers, had begun to let go of some of their demons. My main disappointment with the book stemmed from the initial treatment of Lynley (too good to be true) and Havers (completely unlovable) and the one sided caricature of the American tourists. By the end of the book George allowed us to view a more balanced portrayal of both Lynley and Havers so that we could believe in their humanity.
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A Great Deliverance, Elizabeth George’s first novel, introduces its reader to Thomas Lynley and Barbara Havers, two London detectives who couldn’t be more different. Lynley is Lord Peter Wimsey type, while Barbara Havers is brusque, angry at the hand life has given her. But the two are thrown together when a murder in Yorkshire occurs; a local man named William Teys is found with his neck severed, apparently murdered by his daughter, Roberta.Elizabeth George is exceptionally good at character development. This is especially true in a mystery series; after all, if you’re going to keep reading about a group of characters, you want to feel some kind of connection with them from the beginning. She's also wonderful at characterizations, as well as pop culture references. George does a wonderful job setting up these characters’ personalities and relationships. As for the murder mystery itself, there’s not much new or surprising, but George puts a nice twist in the ending which I didn’t see coming. All in all, I think I’d continue reading this series; A Great Deliverance is a fast-paced, exciting read.
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Inspector Lynley and Sargent Havers from the Scotland Yard come to a small village in Yorkshire to investigate a murder. William Teys is found dead, beheaded lying over his dog and his daughter, Roberta is sitting besides him. Roberta confesses to the murder but is found to be mentally imbalanced. During the course of the investigation all secrets of the villagers come to the fore and the climax send a shiver down your spine.The author has tried to give you a picture of the characters from an emotional point of view and has succeeded. A very different and appealing way to approach the mystery. A very good read overall.
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The headless body of William Teys lies in a barn in a small Yorkshire village. His daughter sits by the body, axe in hand. When they are discovered, she confesses “I did it. I'm not sorry.” This seems like an open and closed case, so why have the locals called in Scotland Yard? Details that don't seem to fit trouble the villagers. Might the daughter be innocent, and the killer still be at loose among them?For years I've been watching the television adaptation of this series, but this is my first experience with the books. I was startled by Lynley and Havers' physical descriptions, which are very different from the actors who portray them on television. The TV Lynley is dark, while the book Lynley is blond. The TV Havers is small and thin, while the book Havers is plump. Try as I might, after watching so many seasons of the TV series, the TV actors are who I picture as read, and I just have to accept the incongruity.Since I remembered the basic details from the TV adaptation of this book, my attention focused more on character development and the psychological tension in the story. One thing that struck me is that, with the exception of the village priest who presents the case to Scotland Yard, the only characters whose thoughts are revealed to the reader are the investigators and their associates. Like the investigators, the reader must decide how to interpret the words and actions of the witnesses/suspects.George took what at first glance seemed to be a domestic crime and explored its multiple facets – its inconsistencies, questions of interpretation, the personality of the victim, the personality of the presumed killer, family dynamics, the effect of the murder on the small community, and the effect of stress on the personal and professional relationships of those who investigate murder for a living. A characteristic passage:{Lynley} couldn't remember the last time he had felt so burdened by a case. It felt as if a tremendous weight, having nothing whatsoever to do with the responsibility of getting to the bottom of the matter, were pressing upon his heart. He knew the source. Murder—its atavistic nature and ineffable consequences—was a hydra. Each head, ruthlessly cut off in an effort to reach the “prodigious dog-like body” of culpability, left in its place two heads more venomous than the last. But unlike so many of his previous cases, in which mere rote sufficed to see him sear his way to the core of evil—stopping the flow of blood, allowing no further growth, and leaving him personally untouched by the encounter—this case spoke to him far more intimately.If the rest of the books are as good as this one, I'll enjoy getting re-acquainted with favorite characters in their original form.
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What a treat to discover a new suspense series to read, and one with sixteen sequels, to date. The detectives are based in Scotland Yard, and each has a troubling and complicated past, partially revealed as the plot thickens. (Presumably, and hopefully, more is filled in as the series progresses.) The crime here is pretty gruesome (a daughter has apparently beheaded her father), but the real horror becomes apparent only bit by bit, truly a delight for suspense fans. There are some problems I hope wear off in future volumes: another woman detective who loathes herself? Oh, please…..! And a ridiculous American of a type I’ve never run into, and I know some pips (and I’m an American, too) – simply a superfluous characterization which might have been excusable if it furthered the plot, but, alas, not at all. But those caveats aside, I’m very much looking forward to the arrival of the next in the series, which is on its way to me now.
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