In Deception on His Mind
Sergeant Barbara Havers places herself at the center of an investigation in Essex concerning the mysterious death of a recently arrived immigrant from Pakistan. Although still recovering from the broken ribs and nose (received at the end of In the Presence of the Enemy
), Havers convinces herself that she needs to stay on the job in order to help her neighbor Taymullah Azhar and his elfin daughter Hadiyyah who have a familial connection to the dead man. As is typical with Elizabeth George's novels (this is the 10th in a popular and powerful series), the murder and its investigation are the central feature of the story. But in this case they are also the means by which she explores the Pakistani experience in a foreign and not always friendly culture. As Havers herself notes, the food may well have improved in Britain with an increasingly diverse population, but that same population has "engendered a score of polyglot problems." Whether or not the dead man is a victim of a racially motivated crime is only one of the questions Havers tries to sort out. The result, with George's typically complex characterizations and deft plot turns, is a deeply satisfying novel. Fans of Havers's superior officer, Thomas Lynley, and his lady love Helen Clyde will be disappointed as the two are off on their honeymoon. But with Lynley out of the picture, Havers, with her prickly personality, caustic tongue, and sound investigative skills, comes well and truly into her own. Nitpickers might question one aspect of the final denouement--motive and opportunity are securely in place but the means are on the outskirts of unbelievable. Still, the book is a rich and enjoyable one that continues to tickle the imagination well after it has been shelved amidst other favorites. --K.A. Crouch
From School Library Journal
YA?Detective Barbara Havers is now on her own. Her partner, the glamorous Lord Lynley, and the even more glamorous Lady Helen are off on their honeymoon and the decidedly less-than-glamorous Havers is to recuperate from extensive wounds suffered in their previous case. She declines an invitation by her neighbor and good friend, eight-year-old Hadiyyah, to join her and her somewhat remote professorial father on a trip to the seaside. Somewhat to her chagrin, however, Havers finds herself worrying about the ostensibly naive father as she hears disturbing news of murder and racial unrest in the same coastal town. She goes to Balford only to land in the middle of a tangled web woven around the murder of the fiance of the young daughter of a wealthy Pakistani business man. The plot is well developed, the red herrings many and varied, and the social commentary on the racial unease in England is well handled. Havers emerges as a more sympathetic character here, and readers get the feeling she is beginning to "get a life." YAs will enjoy the engrossing mystery with deft characterizations.?Susan H. Woodcock, Kings Park Library, Burke, VA
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