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The return of Thomas Lynley

careless-in-redWhen American crime author Elizabeth George killed off the wife of her lead character, Scotland Yard detective of noble birth, Thomas Lynley, I thought I’d never read one of her books again. It seemed like a pointless exercise – wiping out pregnant Helen Clyde, a supporting, yet integral, player, who was always the sort of comforting presence behind Lynley’s persona. In any case, three years later George has published the first Lynley novel minus Helen and I decided to put aside my previous decision and give it a whirl.
Careless In Red opens with the grieving Lynley, who has left the force after the murder of Helen and is dealing with devastation by walking endlessly in his native Cornwall. He only stops to eat and sleep, until on day 43 he stumbles upon the body of teenager Santo Kerne, who apparently fell from a cliff onto the rocks beneath.
Of course this being an Elizabeth George novel, it turns out that Santo’s fall was no accident, and before we know it a full scale murder investigation is underway, headed up by by Detective Inspector Bea Hannaford – a colourful, yet likeable addition to George’s set of characters. Lynley plays a secondary role in the whole affair, but enough to satisfy his fans, not least because of the reappearance of his sidekick Barbara Havers, who, in turn, has great chemistry with Hannaford.
A wealth of other characters join the cast of this enjoyable novel, which has plenty of psychological suspense to keep the pages turning to the end. Set against the backdrop of Cornwall’s surfing community, it finishes on a conclusive note, except where Lynley’s future career is headed. One suspects, however, that Tommy will be back in a leading role in George’s next work. Nevertheless, Careless In Red is a great read to take us through that period where Lynley could not take on the principal part.

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