In Pursuit of the Proper Sinner by Elizabeth George

‘In Pursuit of the Proper Sinner is the 10th book in Elizabeth George’s Linley/ Havers series. The actions of Barbara Havers in the previous book – ‘Deception of his Mind’ have led to her demotion. In addition to this, Inspector Linley feels that Havers was wrong and any action taken against her is justified, So, the Linley/ Havers partnership is virtually non-existent through this book, with Barbara desperately wanting to be back in Linley’s good books but unable to stomach the mindless tasks that he keeps assigning to her.

Then Linley is called out to investigate a murder on the moors in Derbyshire. Andrew Maiden was an undercover SO10 officer and at one time was Thomas Linley’s mentor before retiring to Derbyshire. Now his 25 year old daughter Nicola has been murdered. And she was not alone. The body of Terry Cole was found in the same area.

So, while Linley works the Derbyshire end, carefully avoiding treading on the toes of the local force, he assigns Barbara’s fellow constable Winston Nkata to follow up any London leads, while burying Barbara in paperwork.

But, being totally incapable of following directions, Barbara starts to investigate Terry Cole, wondering if he was the target and Nicola just got in the way.

Both investigations take some surprising twists and turns. Particularly in the case of Nicola Maiden who was not quite the sweet young law student that her parents would have the world believe.

Eventually the pressure on those on the periphery of the murder takes its toll with tragic consequences, while the relentless investigation eventually leads to the shocking truth of Nicola’s and Terry’s murders.


Even though this book was quite long, there didn’t seem to be a word wasted. The characters were all excellently portrayed, including Helen Linley and Simon and Deborah Allcourt St James. Barbara Havers was a complete bulldog in this book, and it was excellent to get to know Nkata a bit better. I’m looking forward to the next in the series – ‘A Traitor to Memory’ where hopefully Barbara will work towards getting her career (and relationship with Linley) moving in the right direction.


Book Published 1999


See a full list of books by Elizabeth George

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