The Punishment She Deserves by Elizabeth George is the latest release from the Detective Lynely series (book 17 in the series).
In this book, Elizabeth George follows the lead of Agatha Christie in creating a complex mystery with a large cast of characters that keep pulling at the intertwining threads until you start to see that all these people are connected in a sinister cover-up in a crime that few of them even knew happened.
Deacon Ian Druitt is accused of pedophilia and is found dead in the room he was being detained in. Druitts father is demanding justice for his son who he believes was falsely accused. Isabelle Ardery is dispatched to Ludow, along with Detective Sergeant Havers to uncover the truth. Still baring a vendetta against Havers for behaviours she sees as unacceptable Ardery is bringing Barbara along to the case in an attempt to entrap her into going off script so that management has an excuse to finally transfer her to a rural police station at the other end of the country and far away from New Scotland Yard.
When the investigation in Ludow does not get the desired results and uncovers the possibility of police ineptitude, Lynley is sent to re-investigate along with havers.
Joining Lynley, Havers and Ardery are the last townspeople of Ludlow and their families, the people that the story centers around.
The theme that unifies the characters in this book can be summed up in one word, fear. Throughout the novel, George expertly pulls through the thread of fear through almost every single character. Barbara Havers fears losing her position at New Scotland Yard, Ardery fears her addiction to alcohol will make her lose her sons.
Rabiah Lomax is a Ludlow resident and the grandmother to college student Missa who inexplicably has quit college to the despair of her controlling mother Yasmina. The Lomax family is in a shambles, with Yasmina and her husband Tim having recently lost a daughter to terminal illness, the tragedy is tearing the family apart with Tim turning to drugs and Yasmina driving their two remaining daughters away with her fear for their safety and well being.
What I Loved
I completely enjoyed how intricate this mystery was, while I had suspicions about almost every one of the suspects, the end was not at all what I predicted.
What I Did Not Like
Generally, Lynely novels have me hooked immediately but I felt the beginning of this book, which focused on other characters, took too long. However, once the main cast was introduced I thoroughly enjoyed the book, so if you are also struggling to hang in thee. I promise it is worth it.
She said, with a glance at Hiller, ‘I still don’t quite see—’
Hillier cut in with ‘There’ve been enormous cutbacks in the force up there. Mr Walker is asking us to make certain those cutbacks have no bearing on anything related to this suicide.’
He’d emphasised one word: certain. It would be her job to assign someone to smooth the waters of Mr Druitt’s concern in order to avoid a lawsuit. This didn’t please her, but she knew better than to argue with the assistant commissioner. She said, ‘I can spare Philip Hale, sir. He’s just finished—’
‘I’d like you to handle this personally, Superintendent. It’s going to require quite a delicate hand.’
She kept her expression steady. This was an assignment for a detective inspector at most. Even if that were not the case, the last thing she needed at the moment was to be asked to travel up to Shropshire.
She said, ‘If we’re speaking of delicate hands, this sounds like something more suited to DI Lynley.’
‘Perhaps. But I’d like you to take it on. With Detective Sergeant Havers, by the way. I daresay she’ll be an excellent second. As she acquitted herself so well in Dorset, doubtless she’ll do the same in Shropshire.’
Isabelle did not miss the implicit message here. Having received it, she finally understood the matter in hand.
She said, ‘Ah. Yes. I hadn’t thought of the sergeant. I do agree, sir.’
Hillier twitched a smile in her direction and said, ‘I did think you would.’
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
Genre: Mystery, Police Procedurals
Best Part: The tap dancing
Is it available on audio? No