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Book: For the Sake of Elena by Elizabeth George
Publication date: 1992
Source: e-book borrowed from the library
Summary: In the fifth volume of the Inspector Lynley series, Detective Inspector Thomas Lynley and Detective Sergeant Barbara Havers are called to Cambridge in the midst of a town-and-gown dispute over whether the local constabulary can sensitively handle the case of a dead female student whose father is a professor. The deceased woman, Elena, was deaf and the list of suspects and motives just keeps getting bigger, hampered by the fact that each person that Lynley and Havers encounter has a different view of who Elena was.
Thoughts: I really enjoyed visiting Cambridge through this novel. I’ve done enough fantasizing over Google maps and travel sites about Cambridge that I could follow along as they moved around Cambridge and out to Granchester, passing scholars in black gowns, young people on bicycles, and all of that splendid architecture.
For the Sake of Elena is the first Inspector Lynley book I’ve read. I watched the TV episodes, haphazardly, when they were shown on PBS. Much later, this is the first series that I binge-watched, before I knew that was a word. I remember being surprised by a feeling that is now much more familiar. I get to the end of binge-watching a series and I desperately want more. It’s hard to even consider a new series or a new book or any other form of entertainment. I’m just bereft.
That was long enough ago now that I would probably enjoy them again. Unfortunately, we dropped our Hulu subscription. I might have to consider adding BritBox to our Amazon account to stream Inspector Lynley and other BBC and ITV content.
Usually, I prefer to read a series like this in order, but I felt like I knew the main characters well enough from the television show that it didn’t bother me that I was obviously joining some of the longer story arcs in the middle. Lynley is struggling through what it means to love Helen, and learns some things during the case that both complicates and clarifies things for him. Havers is struggling with how to care for a mother who is rapidly sliding into dementia.
Appeal: This is a strong British detective novel. The relationship between the aristocratic Lynley and working-class Havers is as illuminating as their gender differences. The television series ended but the book series continues. If I re-watch the series, I may want to pick up the books where the series ends.
Challenges: I thought that I might get to count this toward my British Authors Challenge, but Elizabeth George is American. I wonder how often she visits England to get her settings correct for her books.
Have you read this book? What did you think?