My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Thomas Lynley is still in deep mourning for his wife and unborn child, but knows he must make some effort to return to the world. Acting Superintendant Isabel Ardery requests his assistance in getting to know the department, and Lynley reluctantly agrees to help. On her second day on the job, a complicated murder case lands in Isabel’s lap, jacking up her anxiety to do well and win the job permanently. Interspersed with this crime are chapters in the form of psychological reports (based upon a genuine case) detailing the horrific abduction of a toddler by a trio of schoolboys, several decades earlier. Of the two crimes, this is the more chilling. It becomes evident that the current murder and the years-old child abduction are connected in some way, and the fun of reading This Body of Death lies in the attempt to discover how and why.
In addition to her intricate plotting skills, George devotes attention to the personalities of her characters, both new and returning. Lynley and Havers, in the aftermath of his absence, dance around each other in an effort to regain their footing. Colleagues/friends the St. Jameses make an appearance, as do members of Lynley’s investigative unit. Isabel Ardery takes center stage; she’s a woman driven by lofty career goals, hampered by divorce, separation from her children, and her habit of taking frequent slugs from airline vodka bottles that she carries everywhere. Gordon Jossey, prime suspect in the murder case, receives his share of attention. The setting, England’s ancient New Forest and its undomesticated ponies, adds interest to the proceedings of the police.
This novel has taken its share of criticism, but I enjoyed it. The ending is a zinger. Well worth reading.