Believing the Lie
“Author Elizabeth George is well known for her complicated plots, but this book is an endless litany of the bad, dysfunctional family dynamic. . . . There may be a good 200-page book here, but it needs a solid plot point of view and a talented editor to dig it out. In the interests of summation, here’s the nutshell: Children = Bad. Whether you are trying to conceive, have a young daughter or middle aged one, they always prove a source of misery.”
Ian Cresswell goes out rowing, when he comes back to tie up his scull he slips on the stone deck, falls in the river, and drowns. It’s ruled an accident.
It should not take 624 pages to determine if the stones were tampered with, thus making it murder.
But Bernard Fairclough, Ian’s wealthy and influential uncle, wants someone at the Metropolitan Police to check into the case (discreetly please!), because there are plenty of folks who want to see Ian dead—he was the heir apparent to Fairclough Industries, and worth a good deal. The job gets assigned to Thomas Lynley, who knows how to circulate around the upper crust because he is, even if he chooses not to use the title, Lord Asherton.
Lynley has plenty of suspects. Ian left his wife and children to live with his boyfriend, Kaveh. Whenever his wife sees their children she spews poison about their father, and as a result, both children are seriously disturbed. The boy, Tim goes to a special school, but his violent outbreaks don’t get any less frequent or fierce.
Ian has also noticed that the company’s books show payments to ex-employee Vivienne Tully and Fairclough’s daughter, Mignon, at rates far beyond all rational explanation. And the prodigal son Nick has come into the fold after years of drug addiction, along with his beautiful Argentinean wife.
Author Elizabeth George is well known for her complicated plots, but this book is an endless litany of the bad, dysfunctional family dynamic.
People say such mean things to parents that it borders on the absurd, causing a mother to remark:
“You make a very good case for strangling one’s children at birth.”
And that’s not the mother whose husband left her.
Even Lynley’s partner Barbara Havers’ friendship with her loveable child neighbor Hadiyyah and her father Azhar (the most stable father daughter relationship in the series, never mind this book) is threatened. Alas, this is another book where Havers and Lynley don’t meet, because he’s in the Lake District and she’s doing background research for him in London.
To sum up: Children = Bad. Children cause havoc from conception (or lack thereof) young ones have disturbed minds, and grown-ups still sponge off their parents.
Elizabeth George needs to remember the two basic rules of writing: Show don’t tell; and less is more. Give mystery readers the respect they deserve for plowing through this doorstop of a book. They, like terriers, are constantly sniffing out clues and suspects—understanding the nuance of a well-placed argument. If she wrote that book, and an editor cut out 300 pages, it might be the compelling read Elizabeth George fans wish for.
There may be a good 200-page book here, but it needs a solid plot point of view and a talented editor to dig it out. In the interests of summation, here’s the nutshell: Children = Bad. Whether you are trying to conceive, have a young daughter or middle aged one, they always prove a source of misery.
Bernard’s daughters, Manett and Ming are, simply, horrid.