This Body of Death

Elizabeth George

Hodder and Stoughton, hardback, £18.99,

Released: 15th April 2010

Reviewer: Amy Myers


Amy Myers' work is known for her short stories and historical novels featuring the Victorian chef sleuth Auguste Didier, she is currently mid- series with Marsh & Daughter, set in today's Kent. Her new series features a Victorian chimney sweep, Tom Wasp, who has hitherto appeared in short stories


Elizabeth George, Inspector Lynley, Barbara Havers – the three names are inextricably linked for the author’s countless fans. This Body of Death is the sixteenth novel in the series, and Lynley has also appeared in many short stories.  The first Lynley novel, A Great Deliverance, which appeared in 1988, was an ‘impressive debut’ to quote one of the reviews. The novels have grown steadily more impressive, partly because Elizabeth George could never be accused of being formulaic. She is never afraid to step outside the expected. It takes courage for an author to kill one of the main characters in a series, and yet in an earlier volume she did just that.  

This Body of Death sees Lynley reluctantly returning to the sharp end of operations, during compassionate leave after the death of his wife. When his replacement, Acting Detective Superintendent Isabelle Ardery, is faced with a murder case that is clearly going to be high profile she realises that she needs Lynley on board if she is to solve it. A girl has been found brutally murdered in a cemetery in Stoke Newington, and good though Ardery is at her job she is clumsy in her handling of her team, whether it is DI Phil Hare or the inimitable DS Barbara Havers. She needs Lynley’s magic touch. This is no straightforward police procedural; it is carefully structured to bring together the strands of several gripping stories. As each strand develops, the tension mounts until they all have their meeting point at the conclusion of the novel.   

In This Body of Death nothing and no one is quite as it seems. Although one of its themes is uncomfortably close to the Jamie Bulger case especially in view of recent events, this is a massive novel both in length and in its achievement. The pace is maintained throughout as the plot direction twists and turns from Hampshire to London and from one strand to another, until its unexpected climax. All this and Lynley too! 

In an interview on her website, Elizabeth George explains the need for an author of a series of novels to ‘open up’ at the conclusion of each one, not close doors. In This Body of Death she has done so very convincingly. The conclusion is both satisfying in itself, and yet opens doors for the future. Thank goodness for that! I’d hate to see doors shut in Lynley’s face







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