‘The Punishment She Deserves’ is the 20th novel in Elizabeth George’s Inspector Linley series. And the title immediately made me wonder what DS Barbara Havers had been up to this time.
In the historic Shropshire town of Ludlow, a respected Deacon, Ian Druitt has died in police custody, apparently by suicide. The death has been investigated, but on the insistence of Druitt’s influential father (who has the ear of an MP), the Met has been called in to check the facts. DCC Isabelle Ardery and Havers travel to Ludlow. For Havers, this is a trial to see if she can follow orders.
But Ardery’s personal life is in crisis. Her ex-husband is moving to New Zealand with their twin boys and his new wife, and Ardery is hitting the bottle harder than ever. Her plan is to get in and out of Ludlow as quickly as possible and to keep Havers on such a tight reign that she slips up and gives Ardery the excuse she needs to transfer her.
But Havers feels that the investigation has not been thorough and on return to London, she finds a critical piece of information that requires further investigation. She and DI Thomas Linley return to Ludlow to do the job properly.
They interview everyone several times, looking for inconsistencies. Finally a number of breakthroughs lead them to the truth of what really happened in Ludlow.
This novel was full of complex and well described characters and the plot was complex but excellent. There were a number of characters who were so good that I was sorry to leave them at the end of the book. Isabelle Ardery was excellent in this novel and it was easy to feel the emotion of her personal crisis. As always I loved Barbara Havers and Thomas Linley.
I did find some of the novel a bit slow. Describing the contents of every meal and various other things was just a bit too much. Several hundred words could have been chopped without affecting the story. But where to draw the line – it was important to know everybody’s every thought.
This is a series that I’ve loved for a long time and I’m looking forward to the next instalment, hopefully with a bit more from Barbara’s friend Salvatore.