Review: Believing the Lie by Elizabeth George

Believing the Lie (Inspector Lynley, #17)

A good friend always used to comment that she looked forward to the latest Lynley and Havers novel not just because it would have a good mystery, but because she enjoyed her annual check in with Lynley, Havers, Deborah, Helen and Simon.

On a certain level, I have to admit I agreed with her.

Based on that, I should have loved the latest installment in the series from George a lot more than I did. After a couple of books focusing on Lynley in the aftermath of Helen’s death, it’s nice to see George getting back to including some of her other characters in the story. That doesn’t mean that Lynley still isn’t haunted a bit by what’s happened to Helen and is still grieving (although his engaging in a strictly sexual relationship with his boss at Scotland Yard seems exactly like the kind of rebound relationship both parties would pursue), but this is a novel about Lynley coming out of his mourning and trying to get about the business of living again.

It helps that he’s been given a special assignment by Hillier. When the nephew of a family friend of Hillier slips and drowns, Hillier sends Lynley to a small village to make sure that no stone has gone unturned in investigation.

If you’re looking for a murder mystery, you won’t find one here. George takes a break from his typical “whodunnit” mystery with a story in which Lynley is brought in as a catalyst for a family who makes a regular habit of lying to each other. As the story unfolds, the lies told by various characters in their day to day interaction–not only to each other but also themselves–come to light, all with intriguing and, at times, unintended consequences. But the shining a light into the darkness isn’t limited to the cast created for this novel–the light also is shone on the regular characters as well.

All of this works fairly well for the first three quarters of the book as George establishes that everyone has something to hide and something to lose or gain from its coming to light. It’s one the revelations start coming in the final quarter of the novel that Believing the Lie drops from what was once a four star book to more a three and a half star one. Simply put, some of the revelations just don’t work as well as they should and others test the boundaries of credibility-at least as far as I was willing to go with the story.

That’s not to say the ending isn’t effective. It just isn’t quite as solid as some of previous efforts and many of the revelations surrounding the dead man’s family connections fray at the edges.

However, George wisely leaves certain elements hanging in the Havers’ story line to ensure I’ll be back for her next novel.

Believing the Lie is a thick, long book that it’s easy to get lost in for pages at a time. When it’s working, it’s among the most solid, entertaining and enthralling entries in the series. It’s just too bad that the last quarter collapses under its own weight and isn’t quite as satisfying as it could or should have been.

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