Book Review: Elizabeth George’s In Pursuit of the Proper Sinner

Posted October 8, 2011 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 In Pursuit of the Proper Sinner

In Pursuit of the Proper Sinner


Elizabeth George

detective mystery, mystery that was published by Bantam on October 31, 2000 and has 752 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, A Traitor to Memory, A Place of Hiding, Playing for the Ashes

Tenth in the Inspector Lynley mystery series set at Scotland Yard in London.

My Take

This was such a sad story on so many levels. The end of a family line. The end of hopes. The useless death of an amazing person.

In Pursuit of the Proper Sinner revolves around Nicola Maiden and her lifelong pursuit of what she wants…now — she never has learned the value of spiritual self-fulfillment. Nik has always gone for immediate gratification and stopped at nothing to ensure it with never a thought for how it might impact anyone around her.

Thomas is angry that Barbara could ignore the chain-of-command and is determined that she will learn her place while Lady Helen comes to a realization as to just why Thomas is really angry with Barbara.

A fascinating look at how three different, strong people approach the evidence and the judgments they make based on it, the different directions it takes them. Each party has strong reasons for their choices and any one of them could be correct.

In the end, it simply proves that one should never allow one’s own perceptions to smear the evidence.

Lots of red herrings in this story. And each little fish is interesting in its own right.

The Story

The daughter of an old friend of Thomas’ is missing. Well, missing until she’s found brutally murdered out on the moors in a henge. Nor is she alone in her death, and it’s this second victim that provides the clues and the public destruction of a number of people.

The clues lead all over and both tidy up and destroy a variety of people as Lynley, Nkata, Havers, and Hanken push their way through the evidence leading to a high-end escort service, a brilliantly successful musical in the West End, a couple of artists who will crack you up, a happily retired couple building their retirement with a successful yet intimate hotel, and a beleaguered young man doing what he can to revive the family fortunes.

The Characters

Lady Helen Lynley makes me rather nuts. She’s never able to come right out and say anything. Instead she dances around a topic until I want to strangle her. She simply keeps pushing and pushing at a person just like a therapist does when they want you to come to the realization on your own. And it does work in this instance…making me crazy!!

What I like about Thomas Lynley is he can be such a stubborn ass, but he does mull things over and is willing to admit when he’s wrong. A bit of a Neanderthal, but there’s hope for this old dog to learn new tricks!

Barbara Havers has been on suspension for three months since the incident in Essex over the summer in Deception on His Mind, 9, and the final results are in. She also learns where Thomas stood on the issue. Barbara is even more of a bulldog on this case. I understand where she’s coming from but, lord, she does need to learn.

DC Winston Nkata has a much greater role this time around — I do like him. He’s intelligent with a great sense of humor and a desire to improve himself. I do like that we learn a bit more about his youthful history! He’s also quite loyal and supportive.

Brief glimpses of Simon and Deborah with a bit more with Lady Helen. Hadiyyah is as sweet as ever although a bit annoying with the constant repetition while her father, Azhar, is still the most amazing man. The nasty Assistant Commissioner David Hillier makes a very brief, vituperative appearance.

Nicola Maiden is a spoiled brat. Her parents, Thomas’ friends, Andrew and Nan, have always protected her from the negative aspect of her father’s career

Detective Inspector Peter Hanken of the Buxton police force is less than happy that the victim’s father has requested Scotland Yard intrude on his case. He does provide George with the opportunity to examine the motives of a parent in protecting their child…for all the good that does.

The Cover and Title

The cover is a bare interpretation of the murder scene with its sparse trees and not-enough stones for the Nine Sisters Henge. The title, however, is spot on as everyone from Havers to Lynley, Hanken to Maiden are all In Pursuit of the Proper Sinner.