Thursday, January 26, 2012

A Review of "Believing the Lie" [9]

Believing the Lie by Elizabeth George
Dutton Adult, ISBN 97805255952589
January 10, 2012, 624 pages

Back for the seventeenth time..yes, Inspector Thomas Lynley's and his regular cast of characters, including Simon and Deborah St. James and the ever loyal assistant, Barbara Havers. This time he is on a secret mission, to investigate the apparently accidental death of one Ian Cresswell, nephew and heir apparent of the very wealthy and very influential Bernard Fairclough. For reason that are not entire clear or convincing, Mr. Fairclough wants the death looked into, unofficially, and has the influence to convince the head of Scotland Yard to assign one of his best to look into it.

And let's just say that once they start digging into that family, they better be wearing their hip boots, because things are going to get quite nasty. Certainly, there appears to be any number of reasons why Ian might have been killed and any numbers of people who might benefit from his death and the further Lynley and the rest dig, the more possibilities arise. But still, was it murder? Sadly, by the end of the book, I barely cared.

George's books tend to be rather complex stories, and that is not a bad thing. But this book goes far, far further down that path, to the point that I think it got lost in the weeds.
I have said it before, but a huge tome makes me rather suspicious, and with this one weighing in at 600 pages, there is cause. Sometimes it is a matter of too much material, that you could almost make two books of it. But in this case it is a matter of too much matter, pages after page that just ramble on and should have been cut. In fact, there are a storyline or two, of many, that might have been cut, like the one of the giant reporter and his mother's matchmaking. The giant aside, bigger is not always better. Too many storylines, too many characters, several of them boring , several of them distasteful, all in need of a serious editor.

I have never been a big fan of Deborah and she does not prove me wrong in this book, doing something which one might argue results in someone death. But even my favorites do not come across too well in this one. Yes, Thomas is a grieving widower and has to get on with his life but his affair with his boss is distasteful and out of character. And poor Barbara is relegated to spending most of the book worrying about her haircut and her wardrobe. Oh, how far we have fallen.

But maybe the biggest problem is with the implausibility of the central story. There is an attempt to have it explained at the end, but it falls short in my opinion.
Why all this need for the investigation to be secret? Why the need for it to be secret even from Lynley's boss, with the problems it causes? And why in the world would Deborah and St. James go off for an endless amount of time..ok, maybe it just seemed like an endless amount of time bumble about, really seeming to figure little out. And the final dash of pedophilia, well, I guess we need that to seem timely these days. I must admit that toward the end I started to skip ahead. I was curious as to the solution but was tiring of slogging along to get there.

As I said, I have enjoyed several of George's books before, but this one fell far short of what I remember that made them enjoyable. I think fans who feel compelled to read her latest will be disappointed and would not recommend that readers who have heard good things about this series start with this one.
In fact, start with the first and stop before you get here.

My thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for providing a review copy of this book.


  1. I wonder if this is the case of another author who needs to retire her characters. This has been a favorite series of mine for a long time, but, that being said, it's been a while since I read any in it. I'm about 3 or 4 books behind. I know what's happened and I guess I've avoided reading about the losses involved. I had thought I would go back and restart this series this year. Maybe I still will.

    Have you seen the TV adaptations? I know a lot of people haven't liked them, but I was a fan. I also know that Lynley was not a dark haired gentleman, but I can't seem to get Nathaniel Parker out of my head these days when I think of Thomas Lynley. LOL

  2. I rather liked the Tv series. Sure, not totally true to the books but still pretty good and entertaining.
    It did occur to me that this might be an example of a series that has seen better days.

  3. NOOOOOO! Just put a knife through my heart! I absolutely LOVE these books. Yes they do tend to get long, but so engrossing. Penguin Audio just sent me the audio, and was planning on starting it soon. I think I'll just go to my corner and weep.

  4. Yes, what Sandy said! Although this is not the first negative review I've seen of this. Booooo!

  5. I'm with Sandy and Jill. Rats! Big Fat Bummer! I love her series and had this on the wish list. The length of her books doesn't bother me but if it is a rambling blah blah, I'm not thrilled. I trust your judgement and will remove book from list. *sigh*

  6. I'm 3 hours into the audio (and it's 23 hours long!) and I'm really not feeling it. I'm having many of the same problems you described, and it's very slow going. I love Davina Porter's audio performances, but even that isn't keeping me entertained or even interested. I think I'll give it through tomorrow's commute, but if I'm still not into it then, I think your review has shown me pretty clearly to throw in the towel. Thanks for the honest review!

  7. I am a huge fan of this series and I have this book waiting to be read .. I wasnt too thrilled with Tommy and his 'boss' getting it on in the last book .. but in truth pre-Helen, Tommy was more than a bit of cad .. his affair with Deborah was as wrong as this one with the 'boss' ..

  8. I feel like I've read one of George's books but can't recall any of the characters you mentioned. It sounds like this one just got too complicated.

  9. Hey, I could be wrong.
    Of course, if you look at the reviews on Amazon, it appears I might be too kind to the book in the opinion of many.

  10. I just love the last line of your review: Start with the first one and stop before you get here. That's saying it right out! I find most series start to suffer after awhile. But wow … 600 pages on book 17! That is something.

  11. I love reading reviews before purchasing books!

  12. Hi Caite,

    We actually had a copy of this book handed in to the charity shop where I volunteer, just the other day.

    I almost bought it, but decided at the last minute that I was probably never going to take the time to plow through a book quite that chunky ... I think after reading your review that I may have made the right decision.

    I have read quite a few of the earlier Inspector Lynley novels and thoroughly enjoyed them, although in recent years I have tended to keep up to date with his cases by watching the excellent television adaptations.

    It definitely sounds as though the series has run its course which is a shame, but there is no use in 'flogging a dead horse' as then you just start to remember the whole series in a bad light.

    I know that all reviews are a little subjective, because they are personal opinions, but thanks for the honest write up about this one.


  13. I don't think I have read any in this series. I have now added it to my list of series to check. Thanks/

  14. I liked this book, though I liked some of George's other books more. I like the length. I like the complexity. I like the fact that the returning characters' lives are all a bit up in the air right now. I don't think George needs to retire her characters at all. Her books always end up on the bestseller lists, sometimes at number one.


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