For the Sake of Elena

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

Detectives Thomas Lynley and Barbara Havers return in Elizabeth George’s fifth murder mystery. In this outing, the crime is the murder of a deaf student, Elena Weaver, who is bludgeoned while out on an early morning run. The case quickly becomes complicated as Lynley and Havers discover that the seemingly innocent and withdrawn Weaver led a life that no one understood completely. Their investigation of her murder forces them to piece together the disparate parts.

The murder investigation is complicated by the fact that Weaver’s father is being considered for a prestigious university chair. The detectives therefore are under pressure to resolve the case quickly while keeping the reputation of the university unsullied. That becomes more difficult when they discover that Weaver had threatened to file a sexual harassment suit against one of the professors and that she was pregnant at the time of her murder.

Lynley and Havers’ investigation reveals much about Weaver’s past and shows how she came to lead the life that she did, trying as a deaf person to fit into a hearing world as well as to reconcile the ways in which her father, mother, and stepmother wanted her to run her life. Her relationships with members of her family prove to be key to the detectives’ understanding of her murder.

Lynley and Havers will be familiar to George’s readers, as will the author’s clever intermixing of the stories of all of the characters. The detectives themselves are not ignored, as Havers deals with the care of her elderly mother and Lynley reacquaints himself with a love interest to whom he once proposed marriage.