Inspector Lynley Books in Order: How to read Elizabeth George’s series?

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Written by American writer Elizabeth George, this mystery series set in Great Britain follows the investigations by Detective Inspector Thomas Lynley.

Lynley is not your typical Scotland Yard detective. He is the 8th Earl of Asherton, and was privately educated–he went to Eton College and Oxford University. Not like his partner, Detective Sergeant Barbara Havers, who comes from a working-class background. They work together to stop murderers, even if they have to work outside of their jurisdiction.

How to read the Inspector Lynley Series in Order?

Each entry in the Inspector Lynley book series offers a standalone story, but the lives of the different characters evolve from one book to the other.

  1. A Great Deliverance – To this day, the low, thin wail of an infant can be heard in Keldale’s lush green valleys. Three hundred years ago, as the legend goes, the frightened Yorkshire villagers smothered a crying babe in Keldale Abbey, where they’d hidden to escape the ravages of Cromwell’s raiders. Now into Keldale’s pastoral web of old houses and older secrets comes Scotland Yard Inspector Thomas Lynley, the eighth earl of Asherton. Along with the redoubtable DS Barbara Havers, Lynley has been sent to solve a savage murder that has stunned the peaceful countryside.
  2. Payment in Blood – The career of playwright Joy Sinclair comes to an abrupt end on an isolated estate in the Scottish Highlands when someone drives an eighteen-inch dirk through her neck. Called upon to investigate the case in a country where they have virtually no authority, Inspector Lynley and his partner, DS Barbara Havers, grapple for both a motive and a murderer.
  3. Well-Schooled in Murder – When thirteen-year-old Matthew Whately goes missing from Bredgar Chambers, a prestigious public school in the heart of West Sussex, Inspector Lynley receives a call for help from the lad’s housemaster, who also happens to be an old school chum. Thus, the inspector, DS Barbara Havers, and forensic scientist Simon Allcourt-St. James find themselves once again outside their jurisdiction and deeply involved in the search for a child-and then, tragically, for a child killer.
  4. A Suitable Vengeance – Inspector Lynley has brought to Howenstow, his family home, the young woman he has asked to be his bride. But the savage murder of a local journalist is the catalyst for a lethal series of events that shatters the calm of a picturesque Cornwall village and embroils Lynley and St. James in a case far outside their jurisdiction-and a little too close to home.
  1. For the Sake of Elena – Elena Weaver lived a life of casual and intense physical and emotional relationships, with scores to settle and goals to achieve-until someone bludgeoned her to death. Unwilling to turn the killing over to the local police, the university calls in New Scotland Yard. Thus, Inspector Lynley and his partner, DS Barbara Havers, enter the rarefied world of Cambridge University, where academic gowns often hide murderous intentions.
  2. Missing Joseph – Deborah and Simon St. James have taken a holiday in the winter landscape of Lancastershire, hoping to heal the growing rift in their marriage. But the vicar of Wimslough, the man they had come to see, is dead-a victim of accidental poisoning. Unsatisfied with the inquest ruling, Simon calls in his old friend Inspector Lynley.
  3. Playing for the Ashes – When the body of England’s leading batsman, Kenneth Fleming, is discovered in the burnt-out shell of a country cottage, it looks like a clear-cut case of arson. Further investigation reveals an almost embarrassing multitude of suspects for murder. Inspector Lynley and his partner, Barbara Havers, are called in from Scotland Yard to help the local police force.
  4. In the Presence of the Enemy – As the editor of a popular left-wing tabloid, Dennis Luxford has made a career out of a scandal. But this time the scoop is the disappearance of his own daughter. To save the life of his child, Luxford must expose the girl’s mother – Eve Bowen, now Under Secretary of State for the Home Office. Only when events take an unbearable turn is New Scotland Yard brought in, in the guise of Inspector Lynley and his partner, Barbara Havers.
  1. Deception on His Mind – Balford-le-Nez is a dying seaside town on the coast of Essex. But when a member of the town’s small but growing Asian community is found murdered near its beach, the sleepy town ignites. Intrigued by the involvement of her London neighbor-Taymullah Azhar-in what appears to be a growing racial conflagration, DS Barbara Havers arranges to have herself assigned to the investigation. Setting out on her own, this is one case Havers will have to solve without her longtime partner, Inspector Lynley.
  2. In Pursuit of the Proper Sinner – Calder Moor is a wild and deadly place: many have been trapped in the myriad limestone caves, lost in collapsed copper mines, injured on perilous ridges. But when two bodies are discovered in the shadow of the ancient circle of stones known as Nine Sisters Henge, it is clearly not a case for Mountain Rescue. To Inspector Thomas Lynley, this grisly crime promises to be one of the toughest of his career.
  3. A Traitor to Memory – When an elderly woman is deliberately run down and killed on a quiet London street, Inspector Lynley must discover why. It is an investigation that will lead him to walk a fine line between personal loyalty and professional honor. Lynley, Barbara Havers and Winston Nkata must untangle the dark secrets and darker passions of a family whose history conceals the truth behind a horrific crime.
  4. A Place of Hiding – The sudden death of Guy Brouard after his morning swim shocks the residents of Guernsey. When a young American woman is charged with the murder, her brother seeks help from the only contact he has in the UK – Deborah St James. With her husband Simon, they find on that beautiful island a tangled web of deceit and betrayal. In solving the crime, they must rely on their long-standing friendship with Inspector Thomas Lynley.
  1. With No One as Witness – When the Metropolitan Police fail to realize a serial killer is at work, London ignites over the fact that the killer’s victims are young black and mixed-race boys. Institutionalized racism is claimed by the community’s activists and tabloids alike. Acting Superintendent Thomas Lynley is given the case, and his Scotland Yard task force is soon handling more killings and a looming tragedy.
  2. What Came Before He Shot Her – The brutal, inexplicable death of Inspector Lynley’s wife has left Scotland Yard searching for answers. Who is the twelve-year-old boy who pulled the trigger? What were the circumstances that led to his horrific act?
  3. Careless in Red – Devastated by the murder of his wife, Detective Superintendent Thomas Lynley retreated to Cornwall, where he has spent six solitary weeks hiking the bleak and rugged coastline. Then, at the base of a cliff near a town better known for its surfing than its intrigue, Lynley discovers the body of a young man who has fallen to his death.
  4. This Body of Death – While DI Thomas Lynley is still on compassionate leave after the murder of his wife, Isabelle Ardery is brought into the Met as his temporary replacement. The discovery of a body in a Stoke Newington cemetery offers Isabelle the chance to make her mark with a high profile murder investigation. Persuading Lynley back to work seems the best way to guarantee a result: Lynley’s team is fiercely loyal to him and Isabelle needs them – and especially Barbara Havers – on her side.
  1. Believing the Lie – Inspector Lynley is approached by business magnate Bernard Fairclough for a confidential review of the circumstances of his nephew’s demise. The coroner’s verdict is accidental death. Still grieving for his murdered wife, Lynley has personal reasons for welcoming a spell away from London. He heads to the wild beauty of the Lake District, with Deborah and Simon St James to provide cover for his inquiries.
  2. Just One Evil Act – Barbara is at a loss: Hadiyyah, the daughter of her friend Taymullah Azhar, has been taken by her mother, and Barbara can’t really help. Just when Azhar is beginning to accept his soul-crushing loss, he gets more shocking news: Hadiyyah has been kidnapped from an Italian marketplace. As both Barbara and her partner, Inspector Lynley, soon discover, the case is far more complex than a typical kidnapping.
  3. A Banquet of Consequences – The suicide of William Goldacre is devastating-but could there be a link between the young man’s leap from a Dorset cliff and a horrific poisoning in Cambridge? After various issues with her department, Barbara Havers is desperate to redeem herself. So when a past encounter gives her a connection to the unsolved Cambridge murder, Barbara begs Thomas Lynley to let her pursue the crime.
  4. The Punishment She Deserves – When a Member of Parliament shows up at New Scotland Yard requesting an investigation into the suicide of the son of one of his constituents in the beautiful town of Ludlow, the Assistant Commissioner assigns Barbara Havers to the case and for good measure partners her with the one person who shares his wish to see the back of her, Detective Chief Superintendent Isabelle Ardery.

Something to Hide Inspector Lynley Books in Order

  1. Something to Hide – When a police detective is taken off life support after falling into a coma, only an autopsy reveals the murderous act that precipitated her death. She’d been working on a special task force within North London’s Nigerian community, and Acting Detective Superintendent Thomas Lynley is assigned to the case, which has far-reaching cultural associations that have nothing to do with life as he knows it. In his pursuit of a killer determined to remain hidden, he’s assisted by Detective Sergeants Barbara Havers and Winston Nkata. They must sort through the lies and the secret lives of people whose superficial cooperation masks the damage they do to one another.

If you like our article about the Inspector Lynley series in order, don’t forget to bookmark it! You may also be interested in The Adam Dalgliesh series by P.D. James, The Dalziel and Pascoe series by Reginald Hill, or The Inspector Morse series by Colin Dexter.

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  1. I have read all of the Elizabeth George Lynley novels over the years and love them. Since I cannot remember the early novels at all I have decided to start the series again from the beginning. Is this a reasonable or a stupid idea? What do you think?
    Dick Loughlin

    1. I think its a great idea Richard, I have a problem with my memory, so it is fabulous for me to reread books as though I had never read them. Read and enjoy

    1. It depends on the characters and how many books and length. I did reread the previous Lynley books when Helen and the baby died. I thought Ms. George might stop there. The books following that trajedy weren’t as her previous ones. I’m older and have many authors I enjoy. Donna Leon’s Brunetti, Chuck Todd (and Mother) books featuring Ian Rutledge, a few. I’m not sure about rereading Lynley or Leon, but Ian Rutledge books are wonderfully written I plan to reread those for sure.

  2. I love the Lynley books and have read quite a few over last 20 years
    What puzzles me is the time line how old are the characters if novels began in late 80s now surely due for retirement ! Or is there not a real life chronological order ?

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