Playing for the Ashes is the 7th book in the Inspector Lynley mystery series Like all of her books, even a seemingly open and shut case is vastly complicated, as the motives for murder, and equally unhelpful suspects, slowly amass The Ashes historically refer to the prize that is awarded in a Test cricket series played between England and Australia, and is fitting for a title, as the victim in this case turns out to be Kenneth Fleming, a late rising star on England s team, murdered on the eve of the test matches Reputable among his loved ones and colleagues, Lynley and Havers set out to flush out a cunning, remorseless killer The characters are slowly fleshed out, and you have to be patient with all of them as they relate their side of the story I think this is where George is an expert in her craft and style You feel like you re working the case with the detectives sometimes you even start to feel loyalties and prejudices toward certain characters I found myself drawn to Fleming s estranged wife, Jenny Cooper, and her turbulent relationship with her son, Jimmy They just made my heart ache, and I completely understood her situation Don t even get me started on Lynley and Havers, possibly my favorite detective team ever In this book, they really bridge the gap between colleague and possibly friend By the end, it is never just a book about a murder, but it almost always leads to reflection on life and intimate relationships George is one of my favorite mystery writers I m pretty sure that this is the only reason why I didn t give up on this one It also seems like as I get deeper and deeper into the series, the weight of her books increases This probably slowed my reading down, as after the first few days of toting it around, I had to opt for leaving it at home I would read about a chapter a day, and that s saying a lot, as her chapters tend to be quite long Still, it s my opinion that this book didn t need to be over 600 pages the open ended conclusion was a bit upsetting as well As much as I love her, it s almost like every time I want to pick up the next book in the series, I have to mentally prepare myself for a long, long reading trek Most of the time it s worth it other times it s just meh Here s to hoping the next one will hit a homer out of the park.
The Story Begins With My Father, Actually, And The Fact That I M The One Who S Answerable For His Death It Was Not My First Crime, As You Will See, But It Is The One My Mother Couldn T Forgive In Her Astonishing New York Times Bestseller, Acclaimed Author Elizabeth George Reveals The Even Darker Truth Behind This Startling Confession Playing for the Ashes Is A Rich Tale Of Passion, Murder And Love In Which Inspector Thomas Lynley And Detective Sergeant Barbara Havers Once Again Find Themselves Embroiled In A Case Where Nothing And No One Is Really What It Seems Intense, Suspenseful And Brilliantly Written, Playing For TheAshes Will Make Readers Search Out The Sleuthing Pair S First Six Adventuresa Treasure, As Cosmopolitan Predicted In Their Review So this one drags due to the narrative style I didn t know who the heck Olivia Whitelaw was at first and even when I did find out, I didn t get what was going on until the very end I have to say that the big left me feeling perplexed about a few things and I just didn t like how it ended I can guess at what Lynley decides to do, but I wanted it spelled out Yes, after reading than 700 pages yeah this book is a behemoth treat me like I am stupid and tell me everything at that point Also the sides stuff with Lynley and Helen and Havers and her mother did not enhance the book this time I spent a lot of time trying to figure out all of the players and motives Playing for the Ashes has a unique case for Lynley and Havers They get called up to investigate whether Britain s star cricket player, Kenneth Fleming was murdered or committed suicide It takes a while, but there are many we find out who loved him, hated him, and some that were jealous of him You don t know who would want to kill him, but things start to zero in on one suspect after a while.
Lynley is still trying to get Helen to marry him Yeah, I refuse to talk about this any George keeps portraying women in her books as people who need to be handled which is steadily aggravating me Lynley does this case quite systematically though with him and Havers playing off each other very well There s a point in time though that it looks like Lynley could be getting into trouble with Scotland Yard since he has not closed his case fast and seems to be dragging his feet on charging the one person everyone believes did it.
So in this one just like in the last book though, the secondary characters shine Olivia Whitelaw I did not like at all Even through the end of the book, I didn t care for her However, having her narrate what reads as a letter to the reader was quite brilliant Olivia s mother, well there was a lot going on there And the character of Kenny I found loathsome once you found out what was going on there too George manages to make you at turns feel sorry and also despise the same people paragraphs apart.
The writing was good, but honestly this book did not need to be 700 pages I was so tired of everyone by the end of this book This could have been much tighter The flow was off too Olivia s POV kept taking me out of the book since I didn t get what was going on there until the end Once I got it, I did go back and re read just her parts We can get an inkling about some people based on what she says and doesn t say.
The book ends with a decision to be made by Lynley about that fate of several people Since this is the 7th book, I can guess what road Lynley takes However, as I said above, I rather it would have been said Thank goodness Deborah does not make an appearance in this one.
In England the term the Ashes signifies victory in test cricket cricket played at the national level against Australia The preceding quote is from the book However, if you, gentle reader, are thinking, I bet actually the title of this mystery genre novel is a sly double entrende about a dead body you are right The only thing this book has to do with game of cricket is that one of the characters is a star cricket player But if you really are a fan of cricket and are expecting a game in these pages at some point, you will be very very disappointed in this book.
Readers who are fans of hothouse mysteries which is what I call mysteries that tend to have a lot of doomed romances, diva performances and extreme angst along with murders and mystery will find a lot to like in Playing for the Ashes These hothouse plots do tend to lean to the chick lit side of the scale, but they still are very entertaining for everyone, in my humble opinion Both sexes are well represented as heroes or bad guys, the action is dark and deadly and briefly graphic, and it is difficult to quit reading at any point for the last 100 pages because the suspense of not knowing how it ends will drive the reader into missing work or staying up all night.
This is the 7th book in the Lynley Havers mystery series There is a convoluted plot, a mystery, a murder, tons of characters who could have done the murder, and of course, Thomas Lynley and Barbara Havers, English CID police officers Since you really should read this series in order the personal lives of Lynley and Havers are actually at the forefront of the action in almost every one of these novels, as are the distraught self immolating suspects , the emotional level might be reduced because a reader beginning with the newer books will, in my opinion, not receive the full blast of emo crazy Elizabeth George injects into each and every book in the series Of course, if emo crazy annoys the crap out of you in the first place, you won t like this series anyway In this novel I could not guess who the murderer was, so I was in suspense throughout I was highly entertained by the operatic plot Best of all, one of the protagonists was a disgusting person who I would swear was an antisocial personality if she had been a real person, or at least an incredibly immature selfish ninny at best, so I felt free to despise her to my heart s content, as well as feel superior in every way What can any neurotic shy damaged nerdy bookworm with no life such as myself need for temporary validation I highly recommend this book.
These books in the series so far explore realistically, despite the over the top self destruction in each and every character s life in each book, the emotional devastation that making and living with bad choices brings I do not find each single instance of coming undone in these novels hard to believe, but the author does not do nuances ALL of her characters tend to be in their heads as if they were still hormonal high school teens all of the time I think for most of us readers, we have a friend, relative or acquaintance who did something like a George character once or twice, or we ourselves had a bad time once or twice George likes to give readers their money s worth by making sure EVERY character is screwing up really really bad.
The character who provided me with so much positive and elevated self regard was Olivia Her narrative and life takes up half of the pages, so if she does not pique your interest the book won t be fun for you Her part in the book was to Live Large as a young adult going on 4 years old She chooses a life as a drug addict and a prostitute to destroy her parents, who really are very sweet, but for some reason Olivia can t seem to see them as regular people because they are wealthy and a bit conventional and they want to enjoy an expanded and worthy social life Everything they do, especially her mother, Olivia misreads as hate, vengeance and abusive control She can t seem to like or love them, no matter how benign or ordinary they live their lives or what their expectations are for their daughter I think she simply has a horror of being controlled so strong that she can t accept any kind of critical suggestion, much less a parental directive, so that being told it s time for bed would have been enough to send Olivia into a room breaking tantrum Olivia also has a form of jealousy which is world destroying, and a blinkered overly personalized view of why people expect her to follow directives and set goals Olivia writes a diary in alternating chapters in Playing for the Ashes about her life which shows how bent her viewpoint is, but I suspect some inexperienced or youthful readers may not see that she overreacts to the world, misreads simple criticism as dislike or hate, and is obviously too self centered to understand her self destruction is only important to her family but there is a big world out there that she could have chosen to enjoy on her own Those of us who have known people like her will recognize the extreme diva mentality who think it s all about them, no matter what the situation Thankfully, only a few children, and I ve known some, will go on to this kind of extreme self degradation to punish a normal parent it s always been a parent in my real experience In real life, usually normal parents do not entirely blame themselves, but when they do, many have the maturity to recognize, parental guilt or not, that the self destruction punishes the child than the parent Setting oneself on fire because you hated eating Brussels sprouts once a week, or doing homework, can be kinda wasteful of one s life At some point, the recognition that living well is the best revenge one can have, if revenge is the point, but actually simply living well for oneself is nice, revenge or not There was a 4 year old who used the technique of holding his breath to punish anyone who tried to make him do something or did not buy him a toy he wanted Of course, any sane adult would understand 1 if he did hold his breath long enough to pass out he would not die but he might bring relief to everyone by being quiet for awhile 2 he would start breathing automatically again if he succeeded in holding his breath until he passed out 3 he is an idiot child Olivia was this kind of person Boy, did I have fun dissing Olivia every time it was her turn to vent and practice the kind of self destruction which is meant to rub other people noses in their guilt, but instead results in everyone wondering about that individual s maturity or sanity, or in my case, thinking, too stupid to live The writing is almost literary, but everything is too spelled out for the reader to be actually a literary read Like I mentioned, I didn t think it unreal, and I think George knows her emotionally impoverished families Nobody is exactly polished or civilized, even when they are aristocrats When I finished this novel, as I also did in finishing the previous books in the series, I felt satisfactorily sated with having lived within every character s inner trailer trash.
So much fun Book 7 in the Inspector Lynley seriesThis is one edge of the seat gripping mystery offering several plots within its main plot, a great work of detective fiction, one of Ms George s best.
The story opens when the body of England s leading batsman Kenneth Fleming is discovered in a burnt out country cottage, an apparent victim of arson Inspector Lynley and his partner Barbara Havers are called in from Scotland Yard to help the local police Further investigation reveals a multitude of suspects, it seems that everyone knowing Fleming had motive to kill him Once again they find themselves embroiled in a case where nothing and no one is really what it seems.
This astonishing story is brilliantly written, an intricately woven tale of psychological suspense Through her characters, the author explores in depth the hate love relationship people have for each other and their reaction facing adversity Olivia who provides much of the story in her own words is a rich and complex character We also have the continuing saga in the personal life of Lynley and Lady Helen with Barbara Havers slowly adjusting to her new home This is one absorbing story that will keep the reader guessing to the very last page It is very captivating, I highly recommend it.
Seventh in the Inspector Lynley mystery series set in modern day London with Inspector Thomas Lynley and Detective Sergeant Barbara Havers with this particular story set in Kent.
My TakeExcellent as always George is rather scary in some ways with how impossible it seems to solve the crime that occurs, and yet she lays it out for us in such a logical manner that it all makes sense in the end, even as she points the finger from one person to another after another.
Most of the story is a buildup of the supporting characters Jimmy, Kenneth s son, is a tearaway whom everyone is expecting to end up in jail He is so angry with his father for leaving his family and promising the moon, which he never delivers, that he would happily kill his father.
Olivia has been the typical wild child and the primary spoke of the wheel, as it s her viewpoint and evidence that is the attacking shot She s hated her mother, Miriam, for years for caring for everyone else It doesn t help that Miriam just has to manipulate everyone into doing what she thinks is best Jeannie can testify to this But at least Miriam is an equal opportunist Jeannie has been put upon for years and that last encounter may have been the final straw.
Peeking at some of other reviews for this particular story, yes, I d agree that George weighted the story down with in depth analyses of the other characters that weren t necessary such as Mollinson but, it was so very fascinating to read her fully fleshed characters.
The StoryThe unexpected discovery of Kenneth Fleming when he s supposed to be flying to Greece for a boating holiday with his son throws everyone, including the Kent constabulary for a loop.
Worse, there are so many who would like to see him dead.
The CharactersDetective Inspector Lynley plays the press and gets in hot water for it with his superiors at the Yard Sergeant Barbara Havers is his partner and has made her first friend at Chalk Farm It ll be interesting to watch this develop Lady Helen Clyde is a friend of Lynley s.
Scotland YardSir David is just itching to take Lynley down nor is he the only policeman Lynley is jerking around Maidstone s Detective Inspector Isabelle Ardery is finding Lynley rather tyrannical in their so called equal partnership Detective Constable Winston Nkata.
Kenneth Fleming is a superstar cricketeer, the center around whom everyone involved pivots Jimmy Cooper is his about to be 16 year old son Jeannie Cooper is his wife Georgina is his fianc e Guy Mollison is the captain of the English cricket team.
Miriam Whitelaw, Kenneth s teacher, most fervent supporter, and eventual best friend owns Celandine Cottage Olivia is her daughter.
Living on a barge, Chris Faraday is an architect specializing in remodeling old homes Amanda.
Martin Snell is the milkman.
The TitleThe title is a play on a particular cricket game, The Ashes, traditionally played between England and Australia The fact that this particular cricketeer died from carbon monoxide in a house fire well, I ll leave it to you to judge as to how much of a play the title is.
Another good Inspector Lynley mystery The soap opera is engrossing than usual, even though the first character introduced, Olivia, is so vile that I thought for a while that I wasn t going to enjoy the book at all Her story is presented in first person, as she s writing an accounting of her life, and the early chapters are seriously off putting.
Because of the title the term the Ashes signifies victory in test cricket against Australia I was half hoping, half dreading that there would be a lot of information about that mysterious English sport, but there isn t much The book has nothing to do with Australia, either We do have a murder victim who s a famous batsman for England.
I don t normally seek out contemporary mysteries It was the British setting that attracted me to these and the fact that I could borrow all of them from my mom but the writing keeps me reading them The melodrama is almost over the top, but I m consistently drawn into the characters lives, most especially that of Lynley and Havers I m looking forward to the next one.
This was a big book, 681 pages and it too me over a week to read it, but it was worth it Elizabeth George gets better by the book A first class writer and story teller, that keeps you in your seat, not wanting to put the book down This one was about the murder of an England Cricketer, Kenneth Fleming, found dead a as result of an arson attack, in the cottage of his lover, who seems to have vanished There are suspects abound for Lynley and Havers, plenty of motives for the death of Kenneth Fleming, who all in all was a likable guy, but thoroughly misguided The story is told in two ways, one written like a personal diary by Olivia Whitelaw, a very unlikable character by all accounts, her mother taught Kenny at school and at the time of his death, was his mentor and was providing him with a home since the breakdown of his marriage The investigation is anything but straightforward and when Lynley does think he has figured out the identity of the killer, he has to use some clever baiting and hope for someone to clear their conscience I love how Ms George keeps you guessing to the very end, always a pleasure for me Lynley has also still not sorted out his relationship with Lady Helen, he is still waiting on an answer to his proposal of marriage and is now losing patience Will they, won t they Barbara Havers has moved to her new cottage in Chalk Farm and forms an unlikely friendship I wish Barbara could find a little romance, she s had a hard life and is turning into a very likable and witty character Love this series and the upside is, there are still lots to read This one deserves a full 5 stars.