After twenty-plus books and more pages than I care to think about, any new offering by Elizabeth George in her Inspector Lynley series is going to garner my attention. As I’ve said before, it’s not only the solid mysteries that hook me, but it’s also the opportunity to check in on my old friends in the universe and see what’s happening in their lives.
An unusually warm summer in London is creating all kinds of tension and drama for Thomas Lynley and the usual inhabitants of this universe. Lynley is acting as superintendent while Barbara Havers continues to fend off Dorothea Harriman’s well-intentioned desire to find Barabra a significant other. When a female detective from the police force is discovered to have been murdered instead of died accidently, Lynley, Havers, and Nkata are assigned the complex case.
The complexity comes from questions about the detective’s private life and her history, much of it stemmed from an immigrant community that practices FGM. George introduces readers to another family facing questions about FGM and its potential impact on a young girl — her father wants to improve her value for marriage while her brother violently objects.
Throw in a subplot with Deborah St. James freelance photographic subjects for an upcoming documentary and book on FGM, and things quickly come to a boil.
As with much of George’s prolific output, Something to Hide is equally interested in solving the mystery of who killed the police detective (and there are plenty of suspects, as usual) and understanding the root causes of the crime. George’s attempts to look inside the minds of characters who find the process of FGM to be simply part of their lives and the raising of girls to be married is troubling and chilling at times and eye-opening at others.
Of course, there are also the typical character-building elements of the previous novels as Lynley struggles with the nature of his new relationship with Deidre. Much of what takes place here echoes other elements of the central mystery as various sides question expectations of a relationship and the impact that not being entirely forthcoming can be on various parties. Of course, there are some more profound than others — while Lynley struggles with if Deidra will ever love him in the way he wants/needs and if he’s really moved on from the death of his wife and unborn child, others in the story struggle with the expectations of their culture and the impact it has on young girls’ lives.
All in all, it’s another winning novel from George. I’ve seen reviews that complain the story is a bit slow, though I think these criticisms miss a bit of the point of the novel and the series. And given that it takes several years between installments as George researches and writes her novels, I am not going to complain about the extra time I get to spend in this world.