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In Pursuit of the Proper Sinner
By Elizabeth George

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In Pursuit of the Proper Sinner
By Elizabeth George
Random House Large Print (2000)
ISBN: 0-375-72799-X
Genre: Mystery

Reviewed by Rochelle Caviness - April 17, 2001

When two bodies, gruesomely murdered, are found on Calder Moor, Detective Inspector Peter Hanken of the local constabulary is called in to investigate. This is right and proper, as the murders occurred on his 'turf'. However, the father of one of the victims is a former officer in the SO10, the Crimes Operations Group. Calling in markers, he requests that his old colleague, Detective Inspector Thomas Lynley of New Scotland Yard, assist in the investigation.

Working on an investigation in a district in which he has no real authority means that Lynley must walk carefully so as not to step on anyone's toes, a task that he handles with tact and aplomb. Normally, Lynley's partner is Detective Sargent Barbara Havers. However, Havers has recently been demoted to Detective Constable (D.C.) due to her apparent inability to follow orders. Lynley, who was on his honeymoon when her digression occurred, is disturbed by her behavior and pushes her aside, taking on D.C. Winston Nkata as his new partner.

This novel is peopled with intriguing and well-fleshed out characters, and Nkata is one of my favorites. A former street thug, Nkata is a man of honor. When Lynley chooses him to assist in the murder investigation, Nkata has an opportunity to fast track his career by ensuring that Lynley and Havers stay estranged. Instead, he strives to heal the rift that has developed between Lynley and Havers, while simultaneously demonstrating his investigation skills.

In Pursuit of the Proper Sinner is an intriguing mystery. In it, Elizabeth George has created a wonderfully tangled web filled with plausible red herrings, surprising plot twists, and a devious solution. The complexity of the plot is the main reason that this review is so scanty. I did not want to say much about the actual plot for fear that I would rob the reader of the thrill of discovering George's duplicitous false leads.

This is George's tenth novel featuring Lynley and Barbara Havers. It is also the first Elizabeth George novel that I have read, and it has instantaneously turned me into certified, card carrying, Elizabeth George fan. George describes her characters in such depth that you feel that you've known them for years. This enables the reader to easily follow the story line with the information provided, without having to read any of the previous Lynley and Havers novels. After reading this book, I can understand why George's books show up on so many "bestseller" lists. She is an excellent writer, with a vivid imagination, and a real flare for crafting mysteries.

This book contains mature subject matter. George handles this material in a refined manner. As well, this material is integral to the plot, and has not been included merely to titillate the audience. Nonetheless, In Pursuit of the Proper Sinner, may not be suitable for all readers.

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