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Well-Schooled in Murder [Mass Market Paperback]

Elizabeth George
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)
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Book Description

June 1 1991
When thirteen-year-old Matthew Whately goes missing from Bredgar Chambers, a prestigious public school in the heart of West Sussex, aristocratic Inspector Thomas Lynley receives a call for help from the lad's housemaster, who also happens to be an old school chum. Thus, the inspector, his partner, Detective Sergeant Barbara Havers, and forensic scientist Simon Allcourt-St. James find themselves once again outside their jurisdiction and deeply involved in the search for a child—and then, tragically, for a child killer. Questioning prefects, teachers, and pupils closest to the dead boy, Lynley and Havers sense that something extraordinarily evil is going on behind Bredgar Chambers's cloistered walls. But as they begin to unlock the secrets of this closed society, the investigation into Matthew's death leads them perilously close to their own emotional wounds—and blinds them to the signs of another murder in the making....

Frequently Bought Together

Well-Schooled in Murder + Payment in Blood + A Great Deliverance
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  • Payment in Blood CDN$ 13.72
  • A Great Deliverance CDN$ 13.00

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Product Description

From Library Journal

Thomas Lynley (the earl turned policeman) and Sergeant Havers focus their prodigious talents on uncovering the murderer of a young boy from an exclusive independent school near London. While author George necessarily centers the plot on solving the case, she adroitly plumbs the emotional and psychological depths of fully fleshed characters coping with various forms of personal stress in addition to the murder. As in her previous work ( A Great Deliverance ; Payment in Blood , LJ 7/1/89), George offers refined, feeling prose, an abiding sense of humanity, and a pervasive undercurrent of mystery. A necessary purchase, exceedingly fair and full of grace. Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ
Copyright 1990 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


"George is a master...an outstanding practitioner of the modern English mystery."—Chicago Tribune

"A spectacular new voice in mystery writing."—Los Angeles Times

"A compelling whodunit...a reader's delight."—Daily News, New York

"Like P.D. James, George knows the import of the smallest human gesture; Well-Schooled in Murder puts the younger author clearly in the running with the genre master."—People

"Ms. George may wind up creating one of the most popular and entertaining series in mystery fiction today."—The Sun, Baltimore

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Well-written, but it bothered me June 3 2002
Format:Mass Market Paperback
I had an odd reaction to this book. I am not usually horrified by reading novels about violent events, and there are other books that I have read and reviewed and have not been adversely affected by when other people have had concerns--Martha Grimes' The Lamorna Wink comes to mind.
Interestingly enough, Well Schooled In Murder upset me very much. I am not sure what the main issue is for me here, but the murder of the child Matthew, and the graphic depiction of his parents, first happy and full of joy in their world, and then plunged into horrifying grief, really bothered me. I almost stopped reading several times, and then decided that I neede to persevere. I'm glad I did, I guess, and I will certainly continue with Elizabeth George's series, which I have really loved so far, but this was hard for me.
I also found the estrangement of Deborah and Simon Alcourt St. James difficult and painful. As I think about it now, Simon's comment to Deborah's question of "how do we get back?" is important. He says "we go on," and maybe that is the answer to most of the pain in this book.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Code of Silence Destroys Lives! Dec 6 2008
By Donald Mitchell #1 HALL OF FAME TOP 50 REVIEWER
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Well-Schooled in Murder is a fascinating and critical look at social class, the traditions of English public schools and the problems with having a "stiff upper lip." What is more remarkable is that those themes are developed in the context of an unusually complex and rewarding murder mystery. This book barely misses becoming a classic in detective fiction and will greatly reward fans of Elizabeth George's series about Thomas Lynley and Barbara Havers and those who do not know the novels.

This is the third book in the series. You can read this book as a stand-alone, but it will work better for you if you first read A Great Deliverance and Payment in Blood.

As the story opens, Lynley is still reeling from having destroyed his relationship with Lady Helen. She's gone off to Greece and sends him occasional noncommittal post cards. Lynley is burying himself in his work. That's making life hard on Barbara Havers whose parents are not doing well.

John Corntel, an old school chum from Eton, approaches Lynley for unofficial assistance in locating a missing student who was under the chum's care. The situation soon changes when the student is found in an unlikely place dead, nude and having been tortured. Lynley takes on the case to avoid having free time to mourn his lost love. A delayed autopsy means that Lynley has to develop a sense of means, motive and opportunity without knowing the facts. The various "suspects" and "witnesses" do their best to mislead him, adhering to a code of silence that protects their most delicate secrets as well.

As the case evolves, it's not a pretty picture that is revealed behind the "privileged" walls of Bredgar Chambers.

There's little to complain about with this book and much to praise.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Intricately Woven Plot, Gripping Detail Dec 21 2003
Format:Mass Market Paperback
"Well-Schooled in Murder" was the first book in the Inspector Lynley series that I had read, having been attracted initially by the murder's setting in a British school, rather than by the author's name, with which I was unfamiliar.
Although I found the subject matter extremely disturbing, i.e. the torture and murder of a young male student, the level of detail Elizabeth George gives to the physical setting and the fleshing out of her characters, made me feel as though I were an internal observer of the events themselves, rather than simply a reader on the outside.
Despite this, I felt the primary characters and array of suspects lacked warmth; I didn't experience any particular empathy for them and, consequently, focused my attention more on the brilliantly-conceived plot, which kept me eagerly turning the pages as each layer of the story was revealed.
"Well-Schooled in Murder" is well-crafted and an excellent addition to the Inspector Lynley series and has spurred my interest in reading other books in this British mystery series.
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2.0 out of 5 stars Questioning Lynley's competence (minor spoilers) May 30 2002
By Carol
Format:Mass Market Paperback
I have read six of George's Lynley series (A Great Deliverance, Payment in Blood, Well-Schooled in Murder, Deception on His Mind, In Pursuit of the Proper Sinner, and A Traitor to Memory) and am beginning to wonder if George deliberately writes Lynley as a bad detective. Sure, the murders get solved, but mostly through luck or a timely (if unlikely) confession. And Lynley seldoms follows police procedure, or even common sense. In one book he has Helen Clyde question/comfort a murder suspect. I hardly think she is qualified to do so, and anything she would learn would, very likely, not be admissable in court. In another book, he absolutely refuses to listen to Haver's evidence, simply because he dislikes the idea that she wasn't fired from the force. In another he disregards evidence that would solve the mystery in the hopes of pinning it on someone with whom Helen is having an affair, thereby letting jealously dictate how he conducts an investigation he should have removed himself from (conflict of interest, anyone?). It just seems as though George writes Lynley as an unlikable, sexist dolt. Pity Havers couldn't be the main character in ALL George's books, since she seems to be the brains of this crime-fighting duo.
In this novel, the murder is again solved (and committed) through luck. In this case, a lucky, if completely illogical, suicide. The killer himself seems unnaturally lucky to have been able to drag a bound child through the school and its grounds and then drag his dead body back through the school campus without being noticed once. Apparently there is no night watchman or janitor at this "prestigious" boarding school.
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Most recent customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent
I haven't been able to concentrate on a book in several months. This book broke through and got me back into enjoying reading as much as I used to. Read more
Published 3 months ago by Tammy Rossetti
2.0 out of 5 stars Didn't finish it
Perhaps I shouldn't be writing this review because I did not finish this book. I found the subject matter extremely disturbing, although, typical Elizabeth George, incredibly... Read more
Published on Oct. 23 2010 by caseygirl
4.0 out of 5 stars Well worth reading
This is an amazing crime fiction, very complex and chilling, highly critical of social class. The subject matter is very disturbing. Read more
Published on Nov. 21 2007 by Toni Osborne
4.0 out of 5 stars Very Jolly Good
Very interesting book. This is the first I read of this author. Althought I was very disappointed with the last book she wrote, the ones before are all well worth the read. Read more
Published on Feb. 9 2004
5.0 out of 5 stars Elizabeth George is a Master Storyteller!
This is an awesome book. Each time I read another of her books I never cease to marvel at how well done they are. Read more
Published on May 7 2002 by S. Schwartz
3.0 out of 5 stars Well-written but sometimes hard to follow.
As seems to the norm with books written by this author, there are lots of narrative paragraphs that go off on tangents. Read more
Published on March 11 2002 by "bibliofiend"
5.0 out of 5 stars My first Elizabeth George and perhaps my favorite
In college I took a class in detective fiction and this was one of the six books that we had to read -- it proved to be my favorite. Read more
Published on Dec 16 2001 by Brian Devinney
3.0 out of 5 stars One More Time!
In my effort to give Elizabeth George a fair chance, I read this book, the third in the series of the Lynley/Havers books. Read more
Published on Oct. 25 2001 by BeachReader
4.0 out of 5 stars Maybe it helps to understand the system better
I shan't offer an outline of the story, since there are enough reviews to do that. The book is excellent with a well plotted, thoughtful story of murder at an English public... Read more
Published on Aug. 24 2001 by F. G. Hamer
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