11 June 2008

CARELESS IN RED, Progress Report

This could almost be titled Will Thomas Lynley please stand up?

Elizabeth George fans have been waiting a while for this new novel.
WITH NO ONE AS WITNESS in which Lynley's wife Helen was murdered was published in 2005, and WHAT CAME BEFORE HE SHOT HER, which explained how she came to be murdered, in 2006.
In terms of modern day publishing, the wait, for the next Lynley & Havers case, has been quite long. But in fact the "virtual time" lapse between novels is nowhere near that long.

The blurb on the back of the book begins "It is barely three months since the murder of his wife and Thomas Lynley has taken to the South-West Coast Path in Cornwall, determined to walk its length in an attempt to recover from his loss..."
Six weeks into the walk he finds the body of a young man who appears to have fallen down a cliff to the beach and Lynley's inbuilt knowledge of what to do about a crime scene kicks in.

But Lynley is obviously not ready to return to work. Not only has he been sleeping rough for 6 weeks, he is bearded, unwashed, and he smells. He tries to get away without identifying himself but someone recognises his name. As the person who reports the discovery of the body, he also finds himself at first as a suspect.

Elizabeth George appears to be following a blueprint that I've noticed before. Let me explain.
In Reginald Hill's A CURE FOR ALL DISEASES that I reviewed recently, the "real investigation" didn't get underway until page 177 of the novel's 535 pages. I had begun to wonder whether Peter Pascoe would ever make an appearance.
Something similar happened in one of Anne Cleeves' Vera Stanhope novels, HIDDEN DEPTHS I think, but it may have been CROW TRAP. I kept checking the blurb because Vera took so long to make an appearance.
Now I'm at page 144 of 532 pages of CARELESS IN RED, and Thomas Lynley is almost lying low, and there is neither hide nor hair of Barbara Havers, although the blurb assures me that the "case brings Barbara Havers from London".

At this stage CARELESS IN RED feels a bit as if it is developing complexities, a spider weaving a many threaded web, and perhaps on the brink of something about to "break". I'll write again about it when I've finished it.

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