Deborah St. James's chance meeting with Vicar Robin Sage in London inspires her to visit him, two months later, in Winslough, Lancashire. Her plan is scrapped when Deborah learns that Sage died from an accidental poisoning a month earlier. The more she and her husband, Simon, learn about his death and the goings on in Winslough, the more they wonder if Sage's death really was an accident. Simon asks his friend, Detective Inspector Thomas Lynley to launch an enquiry, but will the people of Winslough cooperate?
Missing Joseph is a compelling study in relationships. Not only are Simon and Thomas experiencing some strain with their significant others, but certain Winslough residents are also suffering through the ups and downs of love. Lynley has to understand these relationships before he can get to the bottom of what really happened to Sage. Needless to say, it isn't easy, which is partly what is so fascinating about this book. The plot is not complicated and the suspect list isn't overly long, however, it takes 567 pages to tell the story because the relationships within this story are definitely complex. Author Elizabeth George beautifully describes feel the anguish of her characters, and throws the whole concept of justice and happy endings into question. It's a great book that works well as a stand alone in this highly acclaimed series.
Elizabeth George has some of the best prose in the business. It's elegant and evocative. But it's so long winded! A lot of it's unnecessary, when she could have got the same effect using far fewer words, and much shorter sentences. However, i still really really enjoyed this book. As a long-time devotee of Agatha Chrisite, i have yet to find anyone who comes close to being a modern day model of her. George's novel are of the right style, the right topic, the right mood, and always feature the right sort of mystery. I have no doubt that if Christie was still writing today, these are the sort of books she would be writing. George is able to craft great mysteries, with great well drawn plots, and always manages to create a cast of colourful and realistic characters. That is why i like her books so much, i think. Her intricate and puzzling plots, and how well she draws her characters. You may not like them all, but they are still interesting and colourful, human and well developed. She concentrates not just on the mystery, but on the lives of the characters as the mystery goes on around them. Which is what i admire, because while a mystery effects lives, it does not stop them. Here she goes back to A Great Deliverance country with a "whydunnit" rather than a "whodunnit". We know from the start who killed him. There is a little room for doubt, but not serious doubt. The mystery is more focused on why the killer did what they did. With her resolutions and solutions, George is a master. Always has good motives and an unexpected and clever answer to the mystery. She falls down on one point. Always. Her depections of English life. Her books are similar to Christie, and a bit too similar. they not only follow some of the same principles, but they seem set in the same time zones as well, when George's novels are supposed to be set in the present day. The English life she depicts may well have been that of fifty or sixty years ago, but it is very rare you find things like this now. We simply don't live as she writes we do. However, her English way of life may not always be realistic, but if you just forget it's supposed to be set in the modern day and think of it as being a novel set in about the thirties, then you'll be fine.
~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ ~ * ~ This is definitely one of Elizabeth George's best novels. It features the winning combination of Inspector Thomas Lynley and Sergeant Barbara Havers. Happily for fans of the series, Lynley's forensic scientist friend Simon, and his wife Deborah have prominent roles in the story. They are working through a very difficult time in their marriage. ~ * ~Deborah meets an interesting clergyman, and decides they should stop and visit him on a small trip they are taking, but they find he had just died of (? accidental) poisoning. ~ ~ * ~, Elizabeth George strength in characterization is evident here: she fills her story with complex characters, each of whom have weaknesses that we can sympathize with. The conflicts between the characters are so well plotted; we are drawn into the story completely. ~ * ~ As always, the ending is surprising. Elizabeth George can weave a web so intricate and subtle, that despite all the clues we encounter, we don't ever "see" the solution until it is too late . ~ * ~ My personal favorite of the Lynley/Havers series are" A Suitable Vengeance" which focuses on the early history of Lynley, Deborah and Simon; and "Deception on His Mind ", which focuses on Sergeant Barbara Havers, and an investigation which forces her to take a stand. ~ * ~ However, "Missing Joseph" is definitely a powerfully absorbing and suspenseful read, and a great sample of the Lynley/Havers team and their friends. Definitely a 5 star ***** read, I recommend it highly for mystery lovers.