Elizabeth George,
I, Richard
(Bantam, 2002)

For any devoted mystery reader, one of the primary reasons for reading a mystery is to try and deduce who committed the crime, as well as why the crime occurred. Many of us enjoy the vicarious thrill of figuring it all out before the hero or heroine does, then feeling smug at our brilliance. Thus, it was with great anticipation that I started Elizabeth George's latest book, I, Richard, containing five wonderfully complex stories, all crafted with subtlety and wit.

George prefaces each story with explanatory notes outlining how it came to be. Her settings vary, with locations ranging from the United Kingdom to California and other environs. In each case, the writing is crisp and elegant.

Among the more desirable aspects of George's books are the character studies and finely nuanced personalities. The author's voice is clearly woven within each character, yet she never loses herself within the person portrayed. The fact that George can don so many hats without making the reader lose sight of her purpose is yet another reason to read this book.

Those who are familiar with her previous novels will be pleased to notice the quiet reappearance of Thomas Lynley and his fiancee Lady Helen Clyde, who happen to be on site when a murder occurs. Lynley, a belted earl and a detective of some note at New Scotland Yard, is the nephew of the lady of the manor that, in the story "Exposure," is being toured by a group of tourists studying fine British architecture. A character is killed through botany, and it's up to the detective on holiday to figure out who perpetrated the deed -- and how -- and where the missing silver has gone.

In each case, George's story is written in such a way that even someone who has never read one of her books and is unfamiliar with her characters and style will be drawn in, and will become a new member of her legion of admirers. These stories are eminently worth reading over and over.

- Rambles
written by Ann Flynt
published 21 December 2002

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