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review 2019-07-25 01:40
Book Drags...
Playing for the Ashes - Elizabeth George

So this one drags due to the narrative style. I didn't know who the heck Olivia Whitelaw was at first and even when I did find out, I didn't get what was going on until the very end. I have to say that the big left me feeling perplexed about a few things and I just didn't like how it ended. I can guess at what Lynley decides to do, but I wanted it spelled out. Yes, after reading more than 700 pages (yeah this book is a behemoth) treat me like I am stupid and tell me everything at that point. Also the sides stuff with Lynley and Helen and Havers and her mother did not enhance the book this time. I spent a lot of time trying to figure out all of the players and motives. 


"Playing for the Ashes" has a unique case for Lynley and Havers. They get called up to investigate whether Britain's star cricket player, Kenneth Fleming was murdered or committed suicide. It takes a while, but there are many we find out who loved him, hated him, and some that were jealous of him. You don't know who would want to kill him, but things start to zero in on one suspect after a while.

Lynley is still trying to get Helen to marry him. Yeah, I refuse to talk about this anymore. George keeps portraying women in her books as people who need to be handled which is steadily aggravating me. Lynley does this case quite systematically though with him and Havers playing off each other very well.  There's a point in time though that it looks like Lynley could be getting into trouble with Scotland Yard since he has not closed his case fast and seems to be dragging his feet on charging the one person everyone believes did it.

So in this one just like in the last book though, the secondary characters shine more. Olivia Whitelaw I did not like at all. Even through the end of the book, I didn't care for her. However, having her narrate what reads as a letter to the reader was quite brilliant. Olivia's mother, well there was a lot going on there. And the character of Kenny I found loathsome once you found out what was going on there too. George manages to make you at turns feel sorry and also despise the same people paragraphs apart.

The writing was good, but honestly this book did not need to be 700 pages. I was so tired of everyone by the end of this book. This could have been much tighter. The flow was off too. Olivia's POV kept taking me out of the book since I didn't get what was going on there until the end. Once I got it, I did go back and re-read just her parts. We can get an inkling about some people based on what she says and doesn't say.


The book ends with a decision to be made by Lynley about that fate of several people. Since this is the 7th book, I can guess what road Lynley takes. However, as I said above, I rather it would have been said. Thank goodness Deborah does not make an appearance in this one. 

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review 2013-10-12 00:25
Playing for the Ashes
Playing for the Ashes - Elizabeth George I thought this one was an improvement over Missing Joseph, the last entry in the Lynley Mysteries and my least favorite of the novels to date. That one barely featured my favorite character in the partnership of Detective Inspector Thomas Lynley and Detective Sergeant Barbara Havers--here she's back in form. And it's not just her presence per se I missed, I think Lynley is a better, more interesting character with her to play off of as well. I remember one scene--the "Kwai Tan" bluff by Barbara where I smiled widely thinking this is a lot of why I love this character. And for once both the personal subplots with Havers and Lynley were hopeful and positive. I was particularly charmed by Havers developing a friendship with Hadiyyah--a charming little girl, seven going on eight, who is her neighbor. The title "Playing for the Ashes" is a cricket term, and this mystery involves the murder by arson of cricket star Kenneth Fleming who rose from working class roots to play for England. Three very different women loved him and have been loved by him. There's Miriam Whitelaw, his former teacher, old enough to be his mother, who he was living with at the time of his death. There's Jean Cooper, the wife he's been separated from for years who still hopes she can get back his love. And there's Gabrielle Patten, his lover and wife of the team sponsor. It's these women, and those connected with them--Miriam's daughter, Jean's son, Gabrielle's lovers and husband--who hold the key to his death. In a departure from George's usual style, the third person narrative is punctuated throughout with chapters in first person from the point of view of Olivia Whitelaw, the daughter of Miriam. Like one reviewer, I found this off-putting, especially since this begins the book and I found I greatly disliked Olivia. That never changed, even if I did find myself having sympathy for her by the end. I also noted this novel in the series overindulged in crude language. I'm no prude, and I don't usually even notice the use of obscenities, but in this case I felt a bit assaulted by their use. I also felt the Olivia chapters, and other scenes not involving the two detectives, were overlong and by and large an unnecessary drag on the narrative. The first Lynley mysteries, such as the first, A Great Deliverance were not much longer than 400 pages. This one was close to 700 pages. I worry George is succumbing to the problem you see in successful, and thus unedited, authors such as Tom Clancy and Stephen King, where their novels become bloated. I did enjoy this book though, enough to read more of the series.
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review 2012-06-20 00:00
Playing for the Ashes (Inspector Lynley #7)
Playing for the Ashes (Inspector Lynley #7) - Elizabeth George Complicated, interlinked plots, lots of suspects, and a couple of giant red herrings that had me convinced about 2/3s of the way through that I knew whodunnit - only to discover I had it wrong. In my defense, tho', I did spot the "unasked question" that eventually led to the killer's identity - I just had the wrong person. Well played, Ms. George - well played. :)
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review 2010-08-23 00:00
Playing for the Ashes (Inspector Lynley #7) - Elizabeth George This was the first one of the series that I read, and I think, one of my favourites. While it did take a while for the story to start coming together, I was immediately taken in by the characters of Lynley and Havers. The secondary characters were not so likeable, but by the end, the story of Olivia that struck me the most. I could certainly empathize with her and her situation with her mother -- much too close to home for me.

For the complete review, please go here:
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review 2010-06-09 00:00
Playing for the Ashes - Elizabeth George For the most part, I thoroughly enjoyed Elizabeth George books. This was one that was def. a hit. It was fast paced and I thought the characters were developed really well. All of her books are long so prepare for that, but, for the most part, well worth the read.
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