Book Review: Elizabeth George’s Playing for the Ashes

Posted March 1, 2012 by Kathy Davie in Book Reviews

I received this book for free from my own shelves in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Book Review: Elizabeth George’s Playing for the Ashes

Playing for the Ashes


Elizabeth George

This detective mystery, mystery is a hardcover edition that was published by Bantam on 1994 and has 619 pages.

Explore it on Goodreads or Amazon.

Other books by this author which I have reviewed include A Great Deliverance, Payment in Blood, Well-Schooled in Murder, A Suitable Vengeance, For the Sake of Elena, Missing Joseph, Deception on His Mind, In Pursuit of the Proper Sinner, A Traitor to Memory, A Place of Hiding

Seventh in the Inspector Lynley mystery series set in modern-day London with Inspector Thomas Lynley and Detective Sergeant Barbara Havers with this particular story set in Kent.

My Take

Excellent as always. George is rather scary in some ways with how impossible it seems to solve the crime that occurs, and yet she lays it out for us in such a logical manner that it all makes sense in the end, even as she points the finger from one person to another after another.

Most of the story is a buildup of the supporting characters. Jimmy, Kenneth’s son, is a tearaway whom everyone is expecting to end up in jail. He is so angry with his father for leaving his family and promising the moon, which he never delivers, that he would happily kill his father.

Olivia has been the typical wild child and the primary spoke of the wheel, as it’s her viewpoint and evidence that is the “attacking shot”. She’s hated her mother, Miriam, for years for caring more for everyone else. It doesn’t help that Miriam just has to manipulate everyone into doing what she thinks is best — Jeannie can testify to this. But at least Miriam is an equal opportunist. Jeannie has been put upon for years and that last encounter may have been the final straw.

Peeking at some of other reviews for this particular story, yes, I’d agree that George weighted the story down with in-depth analyses of the other characters that weren’t necessary such as Mollinson…but, it was so very fascinating to read her fully-fleshed characters.

The Story

The unexpected discovery of Kenneth Fleming when he’s supposed to be flying to Greece for a boating holiday with his son throws everyone, including the Kent constabulary for a loop.

Worse, there are so many who would like to see him dead.

The Characters

Detective Inspector Lynley plays the press and gets in hot water for it with his superiors at the Yard. Sergeant Barbara Havers is his partner and has made her first friend at Chalk Farm. It’ll be interesting to watch this develop. Lady Helen Clyde is a friend of Lynley’s.

Scotland Yard
Sir David is just itching to take Lynley down nor is he the only policeman Lynley is jerking around. Maidstone’s Detective Inspector Isabelle Ardery is finding Lynley rather tyrannical in their so-called equal partnership. Detective Constable Winston Nkata.

Kenneth Fleming is a superstar cricketeer, the center around whom everyone involved pivots. Jimmy Cooper is his about-to-be 16-year-old son. Jeannie Cooper is his wife. Georgina is his fiancée. Guy Mollison is the captain of the English cricket team.

Miriam Whitelaw, Kenneth’s teacher, most fervent supporter, and eventual best friend owns Celandine Cottage. Olivia is her daughter.

Living on a barge, Chris Faraday is an architect specializing in remodeling old homes. Amanda.

Martin Snell is the milkman.

The Title

The title is a play on a particular cricket game, The Ashes, traditionally played between England and Australia. The fact that this particular cricketeer died from carbon monoxide in a house fire…well, I’ll leave it to you to judge as to how much of a play the title is.


Leave a Reply