A Great Deliverance (Inspector Lynley Mysteries, No. 1)

A Great Deliverance (Inspector Lynley #1) - Elizabeth  George Roberta Tey is found standing over her decapitated father with an axe and tells those who find her, "I did it. I'm not sorry." Scotland Yard's Lynley and Havers are sent to investigate. Although I could find fault, this was an engrossing and ultimately moving read. The major jarring fault for me were two instances of coincidence, and one in particular I thought stretched things too far--otherwise I'd say as a mystery the plotting is exemplary, with one particular twist outside the main line of the murder mystery that came close to moving me to tears. That moment involved investigating Detective Sergeant Barbara Havers, a character type that comes close to cliche in mystery fiction I've read--the female police officer with a huge chip on her shoulder that makes her impossible to work with. The "short and dumpy" working class Havers is partnered with Inspector Thomas Lynley, who is everything she is not and hates. A "golden boy," Lynley is a handsome, rich titled charmer. It's more the story of these two forging a partnership than the murder mystery in rural Yorkshire that grabbed me. George is terrific at showing their disconnect. In Lynley's case it's more that he doesn't know what Havers has to deal with--and she's not letting him in. In Havers' case it's her class prejudices and hasty presumptions that lead her to grossly misread Lynley. While I wouldn't call George's prose style literary--it's clean and straightforward in structure and style--it is stronger than most genre fiction even in this first novel. She's a great storyteller, with a gift for making you care about her characters, and I was propelled through the 400 plus pages in practically one sitting. There is disturbing material in this novel--be warned. But I thought it ultimately warming and well worth the read.