This murder mystery (432 pages) was published in September of 2007 by Bantam. The book takes you to an isolated manor house in Scotland. Melissa read Payment in Blood and loved it; it wouldn't be on our site if she didn't recommend it.
Elizabeth George is an American master of the art of British-style mystery novels. Her Inspector Lynley novels (21 so far) are populated with intelligent, beautifully flawed characters that are guided by their innate sense of what’s right.
These are people you’d love to know, despite the fact that grisly murders follow everywhere they go. Scotland Yard Inspector Thomas Lynley (posh, wealthy, good looking) and his unconventional partner Barbara Havers (very smart, but kind of a mess and always getting in her own way) usually work in the bustle of London.
In this installment, they travel to the isolated Scottish loch-side house of Westerbrae, where a group of actors has gathered for the reading of a new play. As snow piles up outside, someone drives an 18-inch Scottish dagger — known as a dirk — through the playwright’s neck as she sleeps. Tensions run high, and emotions are deep as everyone in the house becomes a suspect.
Like the 1920s house-party murder novels that are its inspiration, this crime has a lengthy list of equally likely suspects, including a beloved actress, the play’s director, the victim’s sister, a drama critic, the lady of the manor, and — much to his chagrin — the woman that Inspector Lynley desperately loves.
To get to the truth, the detectives pry out long-held secrets, arrange emotional confrontations, and find themselves the catalysts and participants in searing, heart-breaking moments. It’s all terribly good, deadly fun.
I know she caused you grief. But for God’s sake, did she deserve to die alone, with an eighteen-inch dagger plunged through her neck? — Elizabeth George
No need to read these books in order, but if you’re into epic character arcs, reading the series in order is a fantastic ride. (We are not fans of #13 and #14; forewarned is forearmed.)
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