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  • Writer's pictureWendy Wanner

Book Review: The Punishment She Deserves by Elizabeth George

Highly Recommended

Highly Recommended: A good page-turner with an intricate plot and robust character development

The Punishment She Deserves, the twentieth novel in the Inspector Lynley novel, was a much-needed step up in character development. After the death of Lynley’s wife (six books back), the stories became more about the effects of the trauma and healing of Lynley, and less about the mysteries themselves.

This novel stepped back into the detective flair for which George’s fans love her.


After the apparent suicide of the local deacon, Detective Sergeant Barbara Havers is sent to the historic town of Ludlow to investigate what should be a simple case of confirming the death was handled according to procedure. But instead, Barbara finds a case full or twist and turns where nothing is clear, not even if the deacon was guilty of the crime of child molestation of which he was accused or how he died while in police custody.

Barbara is first accompanied by Detective Chief Superintendent Isabelle Ardery, but the DCS’s rush to return to London causes specific facts to be overlooked and concerns to be voiced. Returning again with Inspector Lynley, the dynamic duo get the job done in traditional Lynley-Havers fashion. Fans will not be disappointed.

Give us our beloved characters

Detective Sergeant Barbara Havers takes center stage, both in the investigation and her tap shoes, and works hard to curb her usually wayward investigative style. Meanwhile, Detective Chief Superintendent Isabelle Ardery battles against the slippery slope of her alcoholism. Her character is portrayed in such a way that we feel an affinity for her, even if we don't want to.

There were nice parallels drawn between the police force characters and those of the town of Ludlow, which added another level of depth to the story. And of course, Lynley can be depended on to keep a cool head in the investigation while solidly supporting both his partner, Barbara, as well as his boss and ex-lover, Isabelle. But in the end, they all must make a choice.

Hats off to the author for authenticity

This is the twentieth Inspector Lynley novel I have read. Oddly, I never realized that Elizabeth George is an American, not British, author. Having lived overseas myself for over twenty years, spending ample time in the UK and being married to a Britt, I still didn’t realize that this series was written by a non-Britt.

Hats off to George. Her depiction of the scenes, country life, intricacies of police work on the other side of the pond, and even her use of proper British English is impeccable and a joy to read.



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