The Wall Street Journal

"It all seems to come down to money in the end." So thinks Detective Inspector Thomas Lynley, the New Scotland Yard man looking into a wealthy Cumbrian family's private deeds and secrets in the latest Lynley chronicle from Elizabeth George.

Plenty of petty offenders are dipping into the family coffers: the perpetual-invalid daughter who wields guilt to finance a life of leisure; the titled paterfamilias whose lucrative marriage may be either more or less than it seems; the ex-addict heir (like "the prodigal son on steroids") who is eager to regain dad's good graces. Also in the generational mix: a pair of emotionally damaged children, two bitter ex-wives and various interloping lovers.

After the family firm's bookkeeper-nephew takes a fatal fall, which local police deem an accident, Lynley's Yard superior asks the dectective inspector to double-check that verdict, though quietly: "No feathers ruffled but no stone unturned." Or, as Lynley muses: "A police investigation managed with complete discretion. . . . He wondered how he was meant to accomplish that."

He does so with the help of friends and colleagues on and off the police force, all of whom have personal dramas to act out, several of which in turn feed into the sad or sordid sagas of the players in Lynley's possible "case." The inspector, too, brings his own back story to the party: Still in mourning for his recently killed wife ("more than anything on earth he wanted her back"), Lynley is conducting a bureaucratically illicit affair with his female "guv'nor" at the Yard, a dalliance haunted by the memory of his late, beloved Helen.

Ms. George, as ever, writes a long and complicated book, with a multiplicity of subplots and a richness of physical detail. In "Believing the Lie," as often as not, the terrain and the weather are objective correlatives to the characters' stormy patches. Meanwhile, the story strands are untied and retied in satisfying and often moving ways. "At the end of the day," Inspector Lynley concludes, "no one gets away with anything, I've found." Not even detectives.

—Tom Nolan

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