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I have to admit that at times I had some difficulty getting through this very long tome. But it is Elizabeth George after all, and if nothing else this lady can write. And she can develop characters like no one else. Ms. George's books are always more than just detective stories. As so often happens, the mystery and the detection take a back seat to the characters. Lynley and Havers develop more and more with each book, and since this is book number 17, they have developed quite a long way. But Ms. George's secondary characters are also truly wonderful. In this book we have a wealthy Cumbrian family, disfunctional and full of flaws. There are two sisters who are as different as humanly possible, and one recovering addict son trying to find his way back from a very large dark hole. There are numerous nieces, nephews, wives and ex-husbands as well just to round out the cast. It is a large cast but Ms. George's talent lies in character development above all else so it becomes easy to keep them all straight. What we don't have is much mystery. Yes there are mysterious happenings, but no actual mystery that Lynely can sink his teeth into. But secrets, lies and deception aplenty in this family. And Lynley and his friends Simon and Deborah are all caught up in it as the story moves towards his inevitable end. And we have Havers, soldiering on alone back in London doing research to help Lynley find his way through the morass that he has found himself in. And I say thank goodness for Havers, because she alone is the glue that holds this huge plot together, and she it is that discovers the real truth behind all the lies. My goodness this woman can write a novel! I can't wait until the next one comes out, which, by the way, has been nicely set up for at the end of this book.