In Pursuit of the Proper Sinner (Inspector Lynley Series #10)

In Pursuit of the Proper Sinner (Inspector Lynley Series #10)

by Elizabeth George


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Calder Moor is a wild and deadly place: many have been trapped in the myriad limestone caves, lost in collapsed copper mines, injured on perilous ridges. But when two bodies are discovered in the shadow of the ancient circle of stones known as Nine Sisters Henge, it is clearly not a case for Mountain Rescue. The corpses are those of a young man and woman. Each met death in a different fashion. Each died violently. To Detective Inspector Thomas Lynley, this grisly crime promises to be one of the toughest of his career. For the unfortunate Nicola Maiden was the daughter of a former officer in an elite undercover unit, a man Lynley once regarded as a mentor. Now, as Lynley struggles to find out if Nicola’s killer was an enemy of her father’s or one she earned herself, Barbara Havers, his longtime partner, crisscrosses London seeking information on the second victim. Yet the more dark secrets Lynley and Havers uncover, the more they learn that neither the victims nor the suspects are who they appear to be…that human relationships are often murderous…and that the blood that binds can also kill.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780553386004
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Publication date: 03/24/2009
Series: Inspector Lynley Series , #10
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 608
Sales rank: 115,969
Product dimensions: 5.20(w) x 8.20(h) x 1.30(d)

About the Author

Elizabeth George's first novel, A Great Deliverance, was honored with the Anthony and Agatha Best First Novel awards and received the Grand Prix de Littérature Policière. Her third novel, Well-Schooled in Murder, was awarded the prestigious German prize for mystery fiction, the MIMI. A Suitable Vengeance, For the Sake of Elena, Missing Joseph, Playing for the Ashes, In the Presence of the Enemy, and Deception on His Mind were international bestsellers. Elizabeth George divides her time between Huntington Beach, California, and London. She is currently at work on her eleventh novel.


Seattle, Washington

Date of Birth:

February 26, 1949

Place of Birth:

Warren, Ohio


A.A. Foothill Community College, 1969; B.A. University of California, Riverside, 1970; M.S. California State University

Read an Excerpt

Julian Britton was a man who knew that his life thus far had amounted to nothing. He bred his dogs, he managed the crumbling ruin that was his family's estate, and daily he tried to lecture his father away from the bottle. That was the extent of it. He hadn't been a success at anything save pouring gin down the drain, and now, at twenty-seven years of age, he felt branded by failure. But he couldn't allow that to affect him tonight. Tonight he had to prevail.

He began with his appearance, giving himself a ruthless scrutiny in his bedroom's cheval glass. He straightened the collar of his shirt and flicked a piece of lint from his shoulder. He stared at his face and schooled his features into the expression he wanted them to wear. He should look completely serious, he decided. Concerned, yes, because concern was reasonable. But he shouldn't look conflicted. And certainly he shouldn't look ripped up inside and wondering how he came to be where he was, at this precise moment, with his world a shambles.

As to what he was going to say, two sleepless nights and two endless days had given Julian plenty of time to rehearse what remarks he wished to make when the appointed hour rolled round. Indeed, it was in elaborate but silent fantasy conversations—tinged with no more worry than was enough to suggest that he had nothing personal invested in the matter—that Julian had spent most of the past two nights and two days that had followed Nicola Maiden's unbelievable announcement. Now, after forty-eight hours engaged in endless colloquies within his own skull, Julian was eager to get on with things, even if he had no assurance that his words would bring the result he wanted.

He turned from the cheval glass and fetched his car keys from the top of the chest of drawers. The fine sheen of dust that usually covered its walnut surface had been removed. This told Julian that his cousin had once again submitted to the cleaning furies, a sure sign that she'd met defeat yet another time in her determined course of sobering up her uncle.

Samantha had come to Derbyshire with just that intention eight months previously, an angel of mercy who'd one day shown up at Broughton Manor with the mission of reuniting a family torn asunder for more than three decades. She hadn't made much progress in that direction, however, and Julian wondered how much longer she was going to put up with his father's bent towards the bottle.

"We've got to get him off the booze, Julie," Samantha had said to him only that morning. "You must see how crucial it is at this point."
Nicola, on the other hand, knowing his father eight years and not merely eight months, had long been of a live-and-let-live frame of mind. She'd said more than once, "If your dad's choice is to drink himself silly, there's nothing you can do about it, Jules. And there's nothing that Sam can do either." But then, Nicola didn't know how it felt to see one's father slipping ever more inexorably towards debauchery, absorbed in intensely inebriated delusions about the romance of his past. She, after all, had grown up in a home where how things seemed was identical to how things actually were. She had two parents whose love never wavered, and she'd never suffered the dual desertion of a flower-child mother flitting off to "study" with a tapestry-clad guru the night before one's own twelfth birthday and a father whose devotion to the bottle far exceeded any attachment he might have displayed towards his three children. In fact, had Nicola ever once cared to analyse the differences in their individual upbringing, Julian thought, she might have seen that every single one of her bloody decisions—

At that he brought his thoughts up short. He would not head in that direction. He could not afford to head in that direction. He could not afford to let his mind wander from the task that was immediately at hand.

"Listen to me." He grabbed his wallet from the chest and shoved it into his pocket. "You're good enough for anyone. She got scared shitless. She took a wrong turn. That's the end of it. Remember that. And remember that everyone knows how good the two of you always were together."

He had faith in this fact. Nicola Maiden and Julian Britton had been part of each other's life for years. Everyone who knew them had long ago concluded that they belonged together. It was only Nicola who, it appeared, had never come to terms with this fact.

"I know that we were never engaged," he'd told her two nights previously in response to her declaration that she was moving away from the Peaks permanently and would only be back for brief visits henceforth. "But we've always had an understanding, haven't we? I wouldn't be sleeping with you if I wasn't serious about... Come on, Nick. Damn it, you know me."

It wasn't the proposal of marriage he'd planned on making to her, and she hadn't taken it as such. She'd said bluntly, "Jules, I like you enormously. You're terrific, and you've been a real friend. And we get on far better than I've ever got on with any other bloke."

"Then you see—"

"But I don't love you," she went on. "Sex doesn't equate to love. It's only in films and books that it does."

He'd been too stunned at first to speak. It was as if his mind had become a blackboard and someone had taken a rubber to it before he had a chance to make any notes. So she'd continued.

She would, she told him, go on being his girlfriend in the Peak District if that's what he wanted. She'd be coming to see her parents now and again, and she'd always have time—and be happy, she said—to see Julian as well. They could even continue as lovers whenever she was in the area if he wished. That was fine by her. But as to marriage? They were too different as people, she explained.

"I know how much you want to save Broughton Manor," she'd said. "That's your dream, and you'll make it come true. But I don't share that dream, and I'm not going to hurt either you or myself by pretending I do. That's not fair on anyone."

Which was when he finally repossessed his wits long enough to say bitterly, "It's the God damn money. And the fact I've got none, or at least not enough to suit your tastes."

"Julian, it isn't. Not exactly." She'd turned from him briefly, giving a long sigh. "Let me explain."

He'd listened for what had seemed like an hour, although she'd likely spoken ten minutes or less. At the end, after everything had been said between them and she'd climbed out of the Rover and disappeared into the dark gabled porch of Maiden Hall, he'd driven home numbly, shell-shocked with grief, confusion, and surprise, thinking No, she couldn't . . . she can't mean    No. After Sleepless Night Number One, he'd come to realise—past his own pain—how great was the need for him to take action. He'd phoned, and she'd agreed to see him. She would always, she said, be willing to see him.

He gave a final glance in the mirror before he left the room, and he treated himself to a last affirmation: "You were always good together. Keep that in mind."

He slipped along the dim upstairs passage of the manor house and looked into the small room that his father used as a parlour. His family's increasingly straitened financial circumstances had effected a general retreat from all the larger rooms downstairs that had slowly been made uninhabitable as their various antiques, paintings, and objets d'art were sold to make ends meet. Now the Brittons lived entirely on the house's upper floor. There were abundant rooms for them, but they were cramped and dark.

Jeremy Britton was in the parlour. As it was half past ten, he was thoroughly blotto, head on his chest and a cigarette burning down between his fingers. Julian crossed the room and removed the fag from his father's hand. Jeremy didn't stir.

Julian cursed quietly, looking at him: at the promise of intelligence, vigour, and pride completely eradicated by the addiction. His father was going to burn the place down someday, and there were times—like now—when Julian thought that complete conflagration might be all for the best. He crushed out Jeremy's cigarette and reached into his shirt pocket for the packet of Dunhills. He removed it and did the same with his father's lighter. He grabbed up the gin bottle and left the room.

He was dumping the gin, cigarettes, and lighter into the dustbins at the back of the manor house when he heard her speak.

"Caught him at it again, Julie?"

He started, looked about, but failed to see her in the gloom. Then she rose from where she'd been sitting: on the edge of the drystone wall that divided the back entrance of the manor from the first of its overgrown gardens. An untrimmed wisteria—beginning to lose its leaves with the approach of autumn—had sheltered her. She dusted off the seat of her khaki shorts and sauntered over to join him.

"I'm beginning to think he wants to kill himself," Samantha said in the practical manner that was her nature. "I just haven't come up with the reason why."

"He doesn't need a reason," Julian said shortly. "Just the means."

"I try to keep him off the sauce, but he's got bottles everywhere." She glanced at the dark manor house that rose before them like a fortress in the landscape. "I do try, Julian. I know it's important." She looked back at him and regarded his clothes. "You're looking very smart. I didn't think to dress up. Was I supposed to?"

Julian returned her look blankly, his hands moving to his chest to pat his shirt, searching for something that he knew wasn't there.

"You've forgotten, haven't you?" Samantha said. She was very good at making intuitive leaps.

Julian waited for elucidation.

"The eclipse," she said.

"The eclipse?" He thought about it. He clapped a hand to his forehead. "God. The eclipse. Sam. Hell. I'd forgotten. Is the eclipse tonight? Are you going somewhere to see it better?"

She said with a nod to the spot from which she'd just emerged, "I've got us some provisions. Cheese and fruit, some bread, a bit of sausage. Wine. I thought we might want it if we have to wait longer than you'd thought."

"To wait? Oh hell, Samantha..." He wasn't sure how to put it. He hadn't intended her to think he meant to watch the eclipse with her. He hadn't intended her to think he meant to watch the eclipse at all.

"Have I got the date wrong?" The tone of her voice spoke her disappointment. She already knew that she had the date right and that if she wanted to see the eclipse from Eyam Moor, she was going to have to hike out there alone.

His mention of the lunar eclipse had been a casual remark. At least, that's how he'd intended it to be taken. He'd said conversationally, "One can see it quite well from Eyam Moor. It's supposed to happen round half past eleven. Are you interested in astronomy, Sam?"

Samantha had obviously interpreted this as an invitation, and Julian felt a momentary annoyance with his cousin's presumption. But he did his best to hide it because he owed her so much. It was in the cause of reconciling her mother with her uncle—Julian's father—that she'd been making her lengthy visits to Broughton Manor from Winchester for the past eight months. Each stay had become progressively longer as she found more employment round the estate, either in the renovation of the manor house proper or in the smooth running of the tournaments, fêtes, and reenactments that Julian organised in the grounds as yet another source of Britton income. Her helpful presence had been a real godsend since Julian's siblings had long fled the family nest and Jeremy hadn't lifted a finger since he'd inherited  the property—and proceeded to populate it with his fellow flower-children and run it into the ground—shortly after his twenty-fifth birthday.

Still, grateful as Julian was for Sam's help, he wished his cousin hadn't assumed so much. He'd felt guilty about the amount of work she was doing purely from the goodness of her heart, and he'd been casting about aimlessly for some form of repayment. He had no available money to offer her, not that she would have needed or accepted it had he done so, but he did have his dogs as well as his knowledge of and enthusiasm for Derbyshire. And wanting to make her feel welcome for as long as possible at Broughton Manor, he'd offered her the only thing he had: occasional activities with the harriers as well as conversation. And it was a conversation about the eclipse that she had misunderstood.

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In Pursuit of the Proper Sinner (Inspector Lynley Series #10) 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 26 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This series is very good and I have enjoyed them all so far. Hoping to read more and more of them.
Guest More than 1 year ago
One of George's best! Kept one guessing until the end. Especially enjoyed the friction and ultimate resolution between Lynley and Havers. At times just wanted to knock their heads together! The characters are very well developed--the additional insight into each helps the reader understand why the character responds/reacts as s/he does. Looking forward to the next in the series.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This was a good read, but very complicated. There was a lot at the first that didn't make sense until much farther in the book and with a NOOK one can't just flip back to read it over again. The parts where Gideon Davies was writing to his psychiatrist were way too long. Many characters. As I said before, it was a good plot. Havers and Nkata were the main detectives here.
Tigerpaw70 More than 1 year ago
Book 10, in the Inspector Lynley's mystery series Elizabeth George hasn't lost her touch and her work continues to be amazing. She is one of the true masters at spinning webs of intrigue. A swift pace and an engaging protagonist had a stimulating effect on my imagination; it was quite exhilarating trying to guess the next move. This is a mind-absorbing fiction, as powerful and provocative as all the previous ones. This intricate plot and complex tale has D.I. Thomas Lynley on the scene of a grisly crime, in which a young man and woman have been brutally murdered and their bodies found in the wilds of Calder Moor. The case is also a sensitive one, it happens that one of the victims is, Nicola Maiden, the daughter of a former undercover officer and one of Lynley`s past mentors. D.C. Winston Nkata is his lead assistant on the case. His usual partner, Barbara Harvers, has been demoted to Detective Constable for an incident the previous summer and ever since, both have suffered from a strained relationship. Although in the dog house for over stepping her boundaries, Barbara is determined, she is a woman of strong character and not the type to sit on the sideline. With this in mind, she clandestinely starts her own investigation, hoping to prove to Lynley that her renegade attitude can bring positive results and be an asset to his team....When Lynley found out what she was up to, my first reaction was can he take the grrr out of the tiger and get her to follow orders.... As they dig deeper into the life of the two victims, a disturbing pattern emerges, suspects are plentiful, nothing is as it seems and everyone appears to be concealing something. The tension grows as each layer of deceit is peeled away, the result created an intense mystery populated with great characters. I found myself totally engaged till the end, it is a large book but I enjoyed every moment spent with it.
Anonymous 5 months ago
My favorite character has got to Detective Havers and her relationship with the other main characters in this series.
SLuce on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Listened to this one. Really liked it.
bookheaven on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Well written - kept me guessing.
patience_grayfeather on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I love the way George weaves themes through her plots and subplots. Control was the issue here - who has it, who doesn¿t and what anyone does to keep it. How much control can you have over any one person? Sin and guilt is also a strong theme and the ¿proper¿ sinner - who¿s really in the wrong. Lynley deals with the outfall of Havers previous investigation as well as searches out the murderer of a former colleague¿s daughter. Some of the subplots are left open - I don¿t know if they¿re just glimpses of people¿s lives to mislead our eye from the culprit, to confuse things or if George is going to pick them up in later books. Some of them I really want to find out what¿s going to happen! Like in this one - what¿s going to happen with Julian Britton, his dad and his cousin!?
hobbitprincess on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is the 10th of the Inspector Lynley novels. It took me longer than usual to read this one - not quite sure why. It's a good book. Havers (my favorite character) starts the novel in disgrace from the previous book, and she spends this entire book trying to redeem herself in her own special way. A former undercover agent's daughter is murdered in the countryside, and Lynley is called in to solve the mystery. As with all of her books, George shows us sides of characters we wouldn't expect to see. It's not until the end that you'll learn who the murderer is, and the motive will surprise you too.
nbmars on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The theme of this addition to the mystery series featuring New Scotland Yard Detectives Thomas Lynley and Barbara Havers is best expressed by the author¿s epigraph: ¿¿How sharper than a serpent¿s tooth it is, To have a thankless child!¿ ¿ King Lear.¿ (The irony of her dedication ¿In loving memory of my father¿ is not lost.) Many of the characters seem to have father issues ¿ with either literal or symbolic fathers ¿ and therein lies the rub. And of course there are a variety of murders. Complicating the solving of these crimes, however, is a tension between Lynley and Havers as a result of Havers¿ escapades detailed in George¿s previous book, ¿Deception on His Mind.¿ I don¿t believe I¿d always feel totally clued in had I not read the preceding book, but on the other hand, it wouldn¿t have mattered much. George is writing in good form again, with a great talent for pithy and witty descriptions that capture a character ¿ or even two at once. For instance, in describing Samantha McCallin¿s feelings for her father, George writes: ¿not that Samantha didn¿t mourn her father¿s passing herself. She did. But she¿d long ago seen that Douglas McCallin¿s first love was the family biscuit factory ¿ not the family itself ¿ and consequently his death seemed more like an extension of his normal working hours than a permanent parting.¿ Or there is this observation by Barbara Havers when she confronts a female suspect for the first time: ¿Her wide eyes looked black, but a lengthier look at them revealed that her pupils were so enlarged that they covered all but a thin edge of iris. The effect was disconcerting, but it was also revealing. Drugs, Barbara realized. Tsk, tsk, tsk. No wonder she was jumpy, with the cops on her doorstep.¿The book begins with two grisly murders in Calder Moor (¿a wild and deadly place¿) in Derbyshire. The plot proceeds with the usual sex, violence, and attempts at personal relationships throughout, and ends up with a general reconciliation of the characters. No surprises there. But George¿s execution makes it an exercise worth taking.Protagonists:Julian Britton, his alcoholic father Jeremy, and his cousin SamanthaNicola Maiden, her ex-undercover-agent father Andy and her mother NancyDetective Inspector Thomas Lynley and his wife Helen, Countess of AshertonSimon St. James, forensic scientist, Lynley¿s oldest friend, and his wife DeborahDetective Inspector Peter Hanken of Buxton in the Calder Moor areaDetective Constable Winston Nkata, who works with both Lynley and HaversDetective Constable Barbara Havers (she was recently demoted)Taymullah Azhar and his daughter Hadiyyah, Barbara¿s neighborsTerence Cole, Vi Nevin, and Shelly Platt, protoges of NicolaMatthew King-Ryder, a truly thankless child of thirty or so(JAF)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The best story I cried. COULD not stop reading wonderful mystery Great author.
whodunitIA More than 1 year ago
We continue to learn more about these beloved characters. They are not prefect. Ms. George combines new characters that are interesting and we learn more about main players. I like to read stories on a series to know the main characters.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I have been reading all of the Inspector Lynley novels in order and I only have one complaint: Upon becoming very familiar with Elizabeth George's writing style, I have trouble being satisfied with other authors. This woman really knows how to pen a story and her characters become so real that you seriously have to remind yourself that these people were formulated in someone's head. Kudos to you Ms. George, but you have set my standards of expectations really, really high. So very many authors just can't reach it.
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joybeing More than 1 year ago
The author powerfully creates characters that live and breathe. She weaves together the lives of seemingly disparate people, drawing them together to create a suspenseful and dramatic story. As the story continues to develop the author brings the reader into the inner world of each character to understand the needs, drives, and ultimate choices that have determined their actions. I return again and again to Elizabeth George for the sheer pleasure of reading her stories and in appreciation of her exceptional writing.
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