Secrets, lies and deception are at the heart of the seventeenth Inspector Lynley novel, which takes place between 10 October and 15 November in Cumbria.
Still coming to terms with the death of his wife, Lynley has become involved with his boss Detective Superintendent Isabelle Ardery - a relationship which is very much on her terms and a secret. He is asked, informally and discreetly by Assistant Commissioner Sir David Hillier, to "look into" the death of Ian Cresswell, nephew of Lord Fairclough, which has been recorded as accidental. Lynley, reluctantly agreeing when he realises that it is not a 'request', is told that he must keep both his whereabouts and the nature of his investigation secret, even from Isabelle.
Lynley travels to the Lake District; to add substance to his cover story and for assistance, he takes forensic specialist Simon St James and his wife Deborah. The Fairclough family are fairly disfunctional. Wayward son Nicholas is trying to prove that he has turned his life around; as well as starting at the bottom of the family firm, he is also trying to rehabilitate others. His sister Manette is divorced from Freddie but still sharing a house with him. The third sibling is her rather strange twin sister Mignon. The large cast also includes the family of the dead Ian Cresswell, whose children spend more of their time with his gay lover than their mother.
DS Barbara Havers, still in London, is undergoing something of a makeover with the help of her neighbours Hadiyyah and Angelina. Her fraught relationship with Isabelle Ardery is not helped when she becomes involved with assisting Lynley in her own time.
To add to the mix is Zed Benjamin, a six foot eight, well-educated journalist, working for a sleazy daily, who is on his second visit to Cumbria under instruction to "sex" up his story on Nicholas Fairclough and his rehabilitation project.
This novel has many strands - perhaps too many, given the nature of some issues raised and then dealt with rather lightly. Relationships of friends/colleagues/family are put to the test with some surviving better than others. Some lighter moments are provided by Zed and his stereotypical Jewish mother, who is anxious to marry him off.
This was a surprisingly quick read for 566 pages with a slight twist at the end, although much was predictable. One irritant is the rather odd use of apostrophes at times in the dialogue.
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