Playing for the Ashes Book Summary and Study Guide

Detailed plot synopsis reviews of Playing for the Ashes

The novel is about the murder of a tennis player and the connections surrounding his life including his mistress, wife and son, as well as the moral ambiguities that an investigator has to sort through. Detective inspector Lynley with Scotland Yard has come upon an interesting murder mystery which involves a tennis player and the people in his life. It all starts when the Milkman comes upon the body of Kenneth Fleming in the Celandine Cottage which in fact belongs to his mistress, Gabriella Patten. When Lynley and his partner from Scotland Yard, Barbara Havers are called in, they decide that the fire must have in fact been intentionally started. They learn from Mrs. Miriam Whitelaw, the owner of the cottage that Gabriella was staying at the cottage after having been separated from her husband. They also find that the victim, Kenneth, was en route to Greece with his son before, his fatal stopover.
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They continue their investigation to include the captain of the tennis team, Guy Mollison who does not give them anything of note, the first time round. Things change when Guy visits Lynley at his townhouse and confesses to know where Gabriella had been hiding. When they find her she says that she had a big fight with Fleming and drove off in his car.

When Lynley goes back to the cottage, he finds the tire tracks and evidence of what she claimed. Lynley and his partner decide to investigate the other side of the case which includes Fleming's family. Jimmy is quite rebellious the first time and is brought in for more questioning. When he is brought in, Jimmy suddenly confesses to the police but his story is full of holes. When he is brought the second time, he remains adamant. Lynley brings him in a third time and this leads to another confession which involves a woman at the cottage that may have been his mother. Lynley collects the facts and goes to the daughter of the prime suspect to get a confession or leading information. The daughter spills the beans but also reveals compromising truths which leave Lynley in a dilemma of whether to follow his morality or the law.
Best part of story, including ending: I like this story because it details the reality of society even if it seems to be ugly and corrupt at some points.

Best scene in story: I liked the scene towards the end when Jimmy decides to jump in the river because he is troubled with what he was holding inside him. Lynley goes in after him. It was a show of selflessness and a determination to get to the truth no matter what.

Opinion about the main character: I liked that Lynley was uncompromising in his attempt to get to the truth until the very end where he had to make a decision.

The review of this Book prepared by Nicholas Waithaka a Level 3 Eurasian Jay scholar

Chapter Analysis of Playing for the Ashes

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Plot & Themes

Composition of Book descript. of violence and chases 30%Planning/preparing, gather info, debate puzzles/motives 40%Feelings, relationships, character bio/development 20%How society works & physical descript. (people, objects, places) 10% Tone of story    -   suspenseful (sophisticated fear) Time/era of story:    -   1600-1899 Kind of investigator    -   british mystery (I say!) Kid or adult book?    -   Adult or Young Adult Book Crime Thriller    -   Yes Murder Mystery (killer unknown)    -   Yes

Main Character

Gender    -   Male Profession/status:    -   police/lawman Age:    -   20's-30's Ethnicity/Race    -   British


Europe    -   Yes European country:    -   England/UK

Writing Style

Accounts of torture and death?    -   generic/vague references to death/punishment Explicit sex in book?    -   Yes What kind of sex:    -   vague references Amount of dialog    -   roughly even amounts of descript and dialog

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Elizabeth George Books Note: the views expressed here are only those of the reviewer(s).
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