A Banquet of Consequences
She’s back and she’s great. With this nineteenth installment of her Lynley Mysteries series, Elizabeth George, rather than becoming lackluster, has polished her formula to make it shine. When compared to the earlier Lynley books and the last few that had disappointed some longtime fans, Banquet shows that her prose style, for the most part, has become significantly more sophisticated and that her characters have been drawn with more subtlety, depth and believability than in the previous novels.
Throughout Banquet she alludes to the history of the Lynely Universe. For longtime readers, this both gives them reminders and brings them up to date, but for one finding George for the first time, these allusions blend unobtrusively into the whole. And, as longtime readers know, George deftly rises above the constraints of the formulaic mystery genre. Banquet reveals insight into human frailty, sexual mores, friendship and love. She takes her time. It isn’t until page 158 that we have the first murder to investigate. Her characters have developed nicely since the previous novels. Havers matures as the novel unfolds, Lynley is less pompous, Nkata’s personality acquires more depth and St. James and Trahair are now more believable.
George also does quite well as she creates the cast of characters involved in the double homicide of the book. These seem like real people, some of them people you might know or encounter. Even the less savory among them are drawn with depth and sympathy. Their various relationships meld together satisfactorily. The plot holds together well. And, in this book, George outdoes herself in this way: She contrives situations and motivations that work both toward sustaining a given suspect’s guilt—and then the opposite. The surprise ending crowns the whole.
Copyright 2016, Bill Wolf (speedreaders.info).