Elizabeth George has another chapter in her Inspector Lynley series, "Careless in Red" (Harper, 721 pages).
Ms. George has written an intricate novel as rich and dense as a Cornish pasty. The astute reader will note the book's poignant dedication.
The story begins with Inspector Thomas Lynley on personal leave following the tragic murder of his expectant wife. While hiking through the Cornish countryside, he discovers the body of a young man who had fallen while cliff climbing.
Upon closer inspection, the local police determine that the fall was not accidental but intentional as the victim's equipment had been sabotaged.
New Scotland Yard sends Lynley's partner, Sgt. Barbara Havers, to assist the local police and the team is reunited. Though described as resembling "a Hurricane Katrina survivor," Havers has one virtue despite her obvious lack of fashion sense loyalty to her superior officer.
The faithful sergeant is faced with the task of shielding her emotionally fragile superior from the caustic local Detective Inspector Bea Hannaford, a middle-aged divorced mother whose attempts at computer dating have left her embittered. Hannaford may hail from the remote region of Cornwall, but she is not obtuse and suspects that Lynley has been less than forthcoming as a witness. The usual blunt Havers must use whatever tact she possesses to shield Lynley from the wrath of a very unhappy Bea Hannaford while coaxing the depressed inspector to rejoin the land of the living, or at least, New Scotland Yard.
Though more of a dramatic novel than a detective story, "Careless in Red" is deftly seasoned with George's typically keen commentary on the British class system.