Believing the Lie – Elizabeth George

Ian Cresswell, nephew of wealthy industrialist Bernard Fairclough, dies suddenly in what the coroner terms an accident. Fairclough calls in a favor from a friend in the police, resulting in Inspector Thomas Lynley being sent up to Cumbria to sniff around and see what he thinks.

Lynley, told to keep his mission secret, runs foul of his immediate boss (and lover). But, helped by a couple of his friends, and some support from a colleague in the force, he unearths secret upon secret, and motive after motive.

Was it murder? Was the victim the wrong man in the wrong space at the wrong time? Or was it, indeed, an accident?

First off, this is a series of which I have read none of the preceding books. That didn’t stop me following what was going on, but I probably missed some of the undercurrents.

Second, USA author George prides herself on the accuracy of her backdrop, so there is a ton of descriptive material about the scenery, buildings, architecture, trees, rivers, streams, brooks, puddles and so on. Yes, it’s authentic, but way too much for me.

Third, the author doesn’t short change the characters, and everybody gets a chunk of attention. There are no wafer thin portraits of people well involved in this story, nor those slightly out of the central focus.

Fourth, the plot is heavy in layers, and it takes time to set these up, and unwrap them. There are some surprises.

So, all in all, a long, heavily descriptive book, that delivers a big read, but one that is modest in action. It was too slow for me, but others may enjoy the crafted background, and the range of characters. (I did not find them all credible, but that’s the cynic in me.) Not bad. But not enough to tempt me to try anything else. Time’s too short.

Score: 6/10