Scotland Yard's Inspector Thomas Lynley and Sergeant Barbara Havers are teamed up for the first time to investigate the beheading murder of William Teys in Yorkshire. His daughter Roberta has confessed to the killing, but she is in a catatonic state and the locals represented by the parish priest seem to think she is not really guilty. Circumstances seem to indicate that she may well be innocent,
Lynley and Havers discover that Teys' young wife had run off when her daughters were small as had Roberta's sister when she was sixteen. Teys had been about to remarry a widow with a young daughter. They also learn about a dead new born baby that had been found on the grounds of a ruined abbey. They are led to search for Teys' missing wife and daughter so that they can find out what really happened.
This report prepared by Jack Goodstein
Fat, unpretty Roberta Teys, 19, has been found in her Sunday dress, axe in her lap, in the old stone barn in the tiny English village of Keldale, with her father's headless corpse nearby. Her only words before she goes utterly silent for the next few weeks are "I did it. And I'm not sorry." Elizabeth George introduces her Scotland Yard Detective Inspector Thomas Lynley, eighth Earl of Asherton, and his good friend Simon Allcourt-St. James, an independent forensic scientist. Lynley (something of a literary descendant of Lord Peter Wimsey) has been partnered with Sgt. Barbara Havers, an unhappy, class-sensitive working class woman who has failed to make detective before, as well as rubbed most other men in the department the wrong way. The ability of the veteran "toff" and the touchy sergeant to get along and work together is part of the interest in the first few books of the series. George's excellent mysteries have the added virtue of skillfully reflecting the issues of the case in the lives of her heroes (and their significant others). An auspicious debut for a series that would go on to greater things.
This report prepared by David Loftus