A small town with a university - Ludlow - so no surprises that the first significant scene is some students in a pub, discussing life, sneaking upstairs for a tumble in the hay and drinking too much. But we are drawn in quickly to the goings on, especially the tensions and the angst between them.
Enter Detective Chief Superintendent Isabelle Ardery and Detective Sergeant Barbara Havers, after a reported suicide in a police holding cell. The body belongs to Ian Druitt, a deacon in the C of E, loved by all, and with no apparent reason for taking his life. So why send DCS Ardery (who is drinking her way through this) and DS Havers (who is always in trouble) to conclude the investigation in as short a time as possible? Why indeed? And what does the whole thing have to do with the MP who asked Scotland yard to be involved?
This is book number 20 in the Inspector Lynley series, but if you haven't got the energy to read 1 through 19, dive right in, like I did. That's not completely true, I have read a few of the earlier ones, but not all, and I would recommend starting with A Great Deliverance, the very first. It sets the scene and is a work of art.
As is this. Elizabeth George deftly weaves a modern tale into an old-fashioned environment. She gets humanity - how and why we lie to each other, our brokenness and attempts at noble emotions like love and trust, and the secrets we would die (or kill others) to keep. And to relieve the tension, there are moments of laugh out loud at DS Havers' comments and antics, and some pure joy in moments.
It is a tome at nearly 700 pages, so difficult to hold in bed, but I thought it worth the weight - as it turns out, we need every bit of that detail for this intricate tale.
You may also enjoy A Great Deliverance or Payment in Blood by Elizabeth George,or what about Jo Spain's With Our Blessing?