cover image The Punishment She Deserves: A Lynley Novel

The Punishment She Deserves: A Lynley Novel

Elizabeth George, read by Simon Vance. Penguin Audio, unabridged, 18 CDs., 23 hrs., $55 ISBN 978-0-525-52981-1

British actor Vance does a strikingly effective job as narrator of the 20th book in George’s series about highborn Scotland Yard Det. Insp. Thomas Lynley, in which he and his partner, Det. Sgt. Barbara Havers, investigate a questionable suicide in the rural town of Ludlow. The early chapters find Lynley deskbound while Havers and their autocratic supervisor, Det. Chief Isabelle Ardery, look into the suicide. Ardery ignores Havers’s suspicions of murder and authenticates the suicide ruling. Circumventing an apoplectic Ardery, Lynley gets the case reopened, and he and Havers return to Ludlow, where their police work is interspersed by dramatic vignettes involving the local community. Vance’s vocal interpretations never falter. His Lynley is definitely aristocratic, but tempered by charm and empathy. Havers runs an emotional gamut from bristling pugnaciousness to bouts of inferiority. Vance voices Ardery—who with her job on the line and her personal life in disarray grows increasingly dependent on vodka—with slurring, furious anger, and self-contempt. With its artfully described small-town atmosphere, meticulous plotting, and well-drawn characters, this is one of the author’s finer novels, with series newcomer Vance delivering a flawless, nuanced performance. A Viking hardcover. (Mar.)