Elizabeth George clocks in with her newest Lynley-Havers, The Punishment She Deserves, at a meaty 595 pages. But don’t let the long length deter you from reading the continuing story of so many characters readers have come to know and love, especially Barbara Havers.

It’s a fine line Barbara has danced since her crossing the line in Italy two books ago. “Dancing” has a secondary meaning here, as the redoubtable Dorothea Harriman has had the sergeant accompanying her to tap dancing class. Yes, you read that correctly. Barbara Havers is tap dancing.

It’s a tap dance around Det. Chief Superintendent Isabelle Ardery, too, when she’s told she must accompany Ardery to be a second set of eyes on an investigation into the apparent suicide of the son of a wealthy brewer while in police custody.

It’s a twisted tale, and Lynley cautions Barbara to watch herself with Ardery, knowing that she and the Assistant Commissioner would love to see Barbara transferred to some small outpost and out of their hair.

And Barbara is up to the task, even as she tries to keep herself from going off kilter into her own threads of investigation. She manages to do enough to convince herself there is something seriously off in the medieval town of Ludlow. But Arder wants to rush back to London to do legal battle with her ex over her twin sons,and is willing to overlook important points Barbara’s uncovered.

Which is when DI Lynley becomes involved.

George’s class distinctions form the bit of wry humor Havers exhibits and as usual, we learn about the extended characters and their lives to the point that they become real. Several absorbing subplots play out against the background of Barbara’s investigation.

And there’s that tap recital to look forward to…

Another winner from the master of psychological depth. Highly recommended.

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