The Punishment She Deserves
By Elizabeth George
Published by Hodder and Stoughton, 2018
Reviewed by Paul Brooks
Elizabeth George has written 24 novels, a book on writing, some short stories and has edited two crime story anthologies.
As busy as she is, she still found time to write The Punishment She Deserves, an almost 600 page tome of complex characters and multiple plots.
Set mostly in Ludlow, Shropshire, UK, the tale surrounds the death in police custody of a young man. An investigation finds the death was a suicide, but the victim's father is not convinced and wants the London Metropolitan Police to cast a critical eye over the original investigation. He has money and political clout, so the Met complies by sending two detectives to Shropshire — Detective Chief Superintendent Isabelle Ardery and Detective Sergeant Barbara Havers. The problem is that Ardery is out to deliberately sabotage Havers' career and this job could see it done.
Throughout the story, exerting his calming influence and common sense, is voice of reason Detective Inspector Thomas Lynley, a character who inhabits a number of Elizabeth George's novels. Urbane, educated and the owner of an old, cobwebbed title he uses only occasionally, Lynley is the closest you'll find to an unusual character, while still remaining well within the bounds of credibility.
In fact, the author has created a splendid cast of characters unique and memorable without resorting to caricature.
They are, at all times, believable, personality clashes and all.
With all the complexity of a long-running soap opera, but not so overstated, this story is complete and the ending a nice conclusion.
It's not tidy, because life never is.
There are — or must be — consequences and ongoing effects that the reader can only imagine.
Unless you are psychic, this is a whodunit to keep you guessing until the end.
The Punishment She Deserves holds the readers' attention with a strong, imaginative plot and logical, but unpredictable multiple outcomes.
A really good read. Recommended.