Here finally is another Inspector Thomas Lynley novel. This one is over 600 pages though. Who knew there would be that much to say about a single case? Well it flows really well and goes exceedingly quickly. Lynley is summoned into the presence of Hillier at his London club away from Scotland Yard. He is asked to not mention where he is going or with whom he will be meeting. Immediately a little suspicious Thomas goes along as asked and finds himself meeting Lord Bernard Fairclough. Fairclough is a little bit of a rags to riches story. He met his future wife when they were teenagers and set about to not only courting her but also to marrying her. Her father owned a very successful business which Bernard eventually took over and made even more successful. This gentleman was requesting the help of Scotland Yard, but only on the sly. His nephew had just died a few days previously which had been ruled an accidental drowning by the courts. He wanted clarification of these results and to not make that public information. Lynley was to tell no one – not even his immediately superior.
Thomas enlists the help of his two best friends, Deborah and Simon St. James and they head up to the glorious Lake District and Cumbria. He knows he is going to need some help as they are to try to remain incognito to the rest of Fairclough’s family too. The man has three grown children, all of whom seem to have their own set of issues. The dead nephew has two young children but he had left their mother about a year before to live openly with his male lover. To say the ex-wife was incensed would be to put it mildly and took out her grief and anger on anyone who would listen. As is usually the case, the children of this now defunct marriage are the ones who take the brunt of the hurt.
Every member of the family has a story, and a pretty extreme one in most cases as well. Lynley and his friends initially try to examine the evidence of the drowning as a place to start and quickly become embroiled in the everyday workings of the family. There is the added question as to whether or not the deceased was the intended victim as Lord Fairclough’s wife used the boathouse far more regularly than he did.
The plots thicken and thicken and never does this story get old or feel as though one is reading what amounts to a tome. You could literally use the book as a door stop it is so large but then that is what was required to get all the facts out. Throw in Barbara Havers in London dealing with brass at the Yard as well as having to get herself sorted with regard to her personal grooming and a rabid tabloid reporter who is desperately searching for a great byline into the mix and you have a grand novel. A long one but a great one.