This is the 18th or so installment of the Inspector Lynley series, so for those of you familiar with the series, forgive me, this was my first. I really enjoyed this book because it didn’t follow the usual “who done it” formulas. In fact the book starts out with the question of whether a crime has been committed at all. As it turns out, the crime that is being investigated isn’t the most interesting mystery being unveiled, as numerous story lines intersect and converge.
The story is set in the Lakes District in contemporary England. It is autumn, and after a disagreement with his lover, Tim Creswell decides to go out in his rowing skull and work out his anger. As he comes back to the dock, he slips, appears to hit his head and drowns. Local authorities determine the death was accidental. Cresswell is the nephew of Bernard Fairclough, a wealthy man who isn’t so sure. Fairclough uses his connections to Scotland Yard to have his death investigated. Inspector Lynley is chosen to make discrete inquiries.
The Fairclough family turns out to be a weird bunch. Fairclough’s adult children include a daughter who has used various ailments to manipulate her family to her will, a second daughter who works for the Fairclough business and who lives with her ex-husband. They both work for Fairclough Industries. Fairclough’s youngest son is a substance abuser who is only recently in recovery, and Fairclough wishes to be certain he had no involvement in his cousin’s death. Nicholas is married to a woman with a murky history as well.
Cresswell also has an ex-wife, whom he left for a man. His ex is still furious and takes out her anger on their two children. Confused yet? Yes, there are a lot of characters, a lot of story threads, and George weaves them together very well. In fact, there are a few more stories, as I haven’t included the Scotland Yard colleagues that work with Lynley. Everyone has secrets, but fortunately not all such secrets are crimes. Enjoy!