Thursday, 23 July 2015

Payment in Blood - Elizabeth George

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A whodunnit marred by a complex handling of plot.

I love Elizabeth George and have enjoyed most of her books. Unfortunately this is not one of those. Despite being familiar with her style and structure, I found this book very difficult to follow and had to rein in my attention to get to the end.


A theatre group meets up in a Scotland mansion to rehearse a well hyped play due to open in London west end soon. However things turn murky when the writer of the play is found dead in her room. Suspicion falls on the group comprising actors, director, producer all having their own reasons to hush up the writer.

Lynley and Havers are called in after the high profile producer pulls
strings to get Scotland Yard on the case.

However, Lynley feels his judgement cloud when he finds Helen Clyde one of the suspects in the investigation. Their history though spoken of in veiled tones, has a spark to it. He struggles with the fact that his ladylove was seeing someone else. Meanwhile, pressure from other high profile suspects, prompt him to get on track and solve the case.

What works:
  • George has this amazing ability of laying her plot and introducing characters. Her grasp of the theatre scene, the acting industry is obvious as she works her characters around it.
  • She works out the relations between characters very well. 
  • It is amazing despite being an American she brings in "Englishness" to the British setting with lords and peers in it.
What doesn't:
  • This is one of her earlier novels. Perhaps that is why she can be excused for producing such a mediocre book. The setting is good but the story is a drag.
  • Despite well etched characters, they fail to form any connection with the reader. 
  • For some reason, she does not seem to be in sync with her talent here. Her books are usually slow at first but subsequently they build up pace. This one doesn't.
  • Her plot are always complex but rewarding in the end. This one just seems to complicate itself more and more and then desperately tries to unfurl itself desperately towards the end.

Not one of her better known ones. Give it a miss and pick up something else.

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