Tuesday, March 18, 2014

THIS BODY OF DEATH by Elizabeth George

Elizabeth George

            As This Body of Death is a mystery, there is a murder: a young woman was found stabbed to death in a cemetery in London. This event, however, does not appear to be at the center of the novel – it would be more accurate to categorize the murder as the glue that connects the multitudinous threads of the various plots that make up the story.

            In addition to the investigation in London, This Body of Death also takes us to the New Forest, where ponies and other animals roam free. Along the way, we also learn about the interesting art of roof thatching.

            This Body of Death introduces Acting Superintendent Isabelle Ardery. Although George does a good job capturing the difficulties facing women who occupy senior positions, such as a Superintendent with New Scotland Yard, Ardery is an unflattering character whose actions personify the negative stereotypes often associated with such women. The only positive about Ardery’s presence is the fact that she is instrumental in Lynley’s return. However, I found their relationship to be dissatisfying.

            Elizabeth George’s writing is above par, as usual. The book is interesting, as there are a number of complex, and seemingly unrelated, plot lines. There are many characters with intricate relationships, and it was even difficult, at the beginning, to keep all the disparate plot lines straight. Despite this complexity, it was relatively easy to predict the outcome of the book – not all of the details, but enough of the major pieces. Even though I was able to predict a chunk of the conclusion, I was uncertain which of the boys was involved; I found the boy who ended up being involved to be an unrealistic choice in light of the description of that boy’s psychopathology. This analysis is intentionally cryptic, as I do not want to risk spoiling the book for other readers.

            I have always enjoyed Elizabeth George’s work. Although I do not believe that This Body of Death is one of her best works, I nonetheless enjoyed having another opportunity to return to the world that George has created.


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