Monday, February 14, 2011

Book Notes: This Body of Death, by Elizabeth George

Fiction! I'm returning to my reading roots with this selection of mystery and murder. Even better: it is a murder mystery set in Britian--with members of New Scotland Yard comprising the erstwhile detectives in puzzling through the clues. The main character, an Inspector Lynley is some sort of Earl. In this, George reminds me of the redoubtable P.D. James, whose Adam Dagliesh, though not a peer himself, recieved the education of such because of his father's position in a gentleman's household.

Both British, both contemporary, and a similarity in the way they construct their plots--but there the similarities end. I loved P.D. James' books in the beginning. The last few years, it seems, have turned rather dark for Ms. James. She is excellent at creating mood and atmosphere. She really is extraordinary. But it is a depressing mood, a bleak atmosphere, and I've stopped reading her books.

The setting of this novel was largely an area of Southern England in Hampshire called "New Forest." (Only in Britian would something established by William the Conquerer be called "New.") Wikipedia was full of interesting information about the area. Ponies run free and unenclosed by right throughout the area which is actually half forest and half heath. One of the characters is an agister, someone who specifically looks after the forest and thus the ponies.

But there's more than just exotic locale on offer. Another one of the characters is established by excerpts peppered throughout the novel from some sort of report on the care and handling of three boys who, it is eventually revealed, committed a crime. Why this treatise is even in the book doesn't start to become clear until about three quarters of the way through. A mystery within a mystery, it is a remarkable and effective way to flesh out one of the characters.

Ms. George seems to specialize in characterization. This is the 16th novel in the series and the first I've read. The characters are fully fleshed out (even ones which are obviously one-night stands)--and in the case of the detectives, I'm looking forward to getting to know them--and their past--better.

No comments :

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...