Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Book review: Missing Joseph by Elizabeth George

I believe I am growing unenamoured of Elizabeth George's Inspector Lynley series.  This makes me sad as I am a big fan of British mysteries (and yes, I know that she's an American but I think she does a really good job of sounding British in these books ... it's called talent and imagination, people: Joss Whedon isn't an actual vampire (that I know of) but he writes 'em good regardless).  I think George is a good mystery writer - smart, clever, engaging - but her more recent Lynley books seem to be moving away from the actual mystery-solving and focusing on the mushy stuff.

For example, take Missing Joseph, the novel I most recently finished, and sixth in the Lynley series.  A vicar is murdered in a remote Lancashire village.  That's the mystery to be solved.  But the only reason Lynley is working on this case is because his best friend, Simon St. James, and St. James's wife Deborah (Lynley's ex-flame/fiancee), are having marital difficulties - she wants a baby but can't carry to term due to an botched abortion early on; he wants to adopt but she wants "her own child"- and have gone to Lancashire to see said vicar, now deceased, for counselling.  There is quite a lot of time spent weeping and wailing and breast-beating with Deborah and St. James that has nothing pertinent to do with the vicar's murder.

In addition, Lynley has recently convinced Lady Helen Clyde to be his lover, but she's not entirely on board, fearing being hurt by the former playboy, plus her family thinks she's a flighty girl who needs to settle down.  Lynley is all angsty and longing and blue balls (when he's not getting laid) and it's quite frankly tedious.  I don't care about the romantic entanglements among these entitled upper class Brits - I want them to stop mooning about and focus on the murders. 

Even stolid, dependable, sarcastic Barbara Havers gets pushed to the side for most of this book, shunted off on one or another field trip, ostensibly doing "research" for the case but really just put out of the way so the author can write more love scenes.  Blech.

If I wanted to read chick lit, I'd read Short Girls by Bich Minh Nguyen (which I actually am reading but only because I'm between books and have nothing else on hand) or that insufferable Eat Pray Love (which I actually have read and thought it was okay as a travelogue but ... really? Am I supposed to be able to connect with this entitled woman who is rich enough to run away from her life for an unpaid year just because she thinks her heart is broken? And then finally ends up with the perfect man as the prize to her hedonistic year? Double-blech).  I don't want to read chick lit.  I want to read British murder mysteries (when I'm not reading historical fiction or swords-n-sandals fantasy or Neil Gaiman).  And Elizabeth George is just not serving up a full helping anymore.

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