In the 20th novel in Elizabeth George's Inspector Thomas Lynley series, Detective Sergeant Barbara Havers investigates the death of a respected deacon in scenic Ludlow, where she suspects foul play and uncovers many secrets beneath the bucolic surface of the town
The Punishment She Deserves contains all the trademarks that have made George a grandee of the genre: an intricate and thoughtful plot (this one includes various forms of addiction and numerous examples of misguided parenting), a multiplicity of carefully conceived and richly executed characters and the continuing evolution of Lynley’s and Havers’ personas. No George novel — and especially not this effort — is one through which the reader should sprint. Instead, take time to reflect on the issues George raises — and to savor her genius.
[T]his portrait of Ardery in extremis is perhaps George’s finest, and with it she expertly tightens her novel’s inexorable grip ... The Punishment She Deserves, for example, may have one subplot too many, but the novel’s elegant structure is airtight, and no character, however tangential, seems extraneous ... As always, George’s cunning revelations are deftly staged.
The sheer size of this book (more than 700 pages) shouldn’t dissuade readers: bolstered by George’s polished prose, the twentieth Lynley mystery moves briskly along, showing the author at the peak of her powers.