Seventeen-year-old Roberta is found in a Yorkshire barn kneeling over the decapitated body of her father William. Underneath William is the body of the beloved family dog Whiskers. An ax handle has been wiped clean of fingerprints but the knife used to kill Whiskers is nowhere to be found. Roberta immediately confesses to the murder, and then does not say another word as she moves into an almost catatonic state. The local investigators charge Roberta with the crime and are done with the case. However, the elderly local priest does not believe that Roberta is capable of the crime. He takes the file to New Scotland Yard where Detective Sergeant Barbara Havers is assigned the case and given one last chance to redeem herself as an investigator. As Havers and her superior, Inspector Tommy Lynley, a known playboy, delve into the mystery, they discover strange goings-on in the village as well as in William's household, from which both his wife and eldest daughter had fled in the past.
Author Elizabeth George creates a world full of interesting, fully drawn characters. Although A Great Deliverance is the first mystery in her series, the New Scotland Yard characters have such complete backstories, feels like you are reading about old friends. George is a very literary writer with frequent references to Shakespeare and a very rich vocabulary. The mystery is a page-turner with a surprising, yet satisfying ending.
Reviewed by mb, 2/02. Other reviews by mb.