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In Pursuit of the Proper Sinner (Anglais) Broché – 24 mars 2009


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Extrait

Julian Britton was a man who knew that his life thus far had amounted to nothing. He bred his dogs, he managed the crumbling ruin that was his family's estate, and daily he tried to lecture his father away from the bottle. That was the extent of it. He hadn't been a success at anything save pouring gin down the drain, and now, at twenty-seven years of age, he felt branded by failure. But he couldn't allow that to affect him tonight. Tonight he had to prevail.

He began with his appearance, giving himself a ruthless scrutiny in his bedroom's cheval glass. He straightened the collar of his shirt and flicked a piece of lint from his shoulder. He stared at his face and schooled his features into the expression he wanted them to wear. He should look completely serious, he decided. Concerned, yes, because concern was reasonable. But he shouldn't look conflicted. And certainly he shouldn't look ripped up inside and wondering how he came to be where he was, at this precise moment, with his world a shambles.

As to what he was going to say, two sleepless nights and two endless days had given Julian plenty of time to rehearse what remarks he wished to make when the appointed hour rolled round. Indeed, it was in elaborate but silent fantasy conversations—tinged with no more worry than was enough to suggest that he had nothing personal invested in the matter—that Julian had spent most of the past two nights and two days that had followed Nicola Maiden's unbelievable announcement. Now, after forty-eight hours engaged in endless colloquies within his own skull, Julian was eager to get on with things, even if he had no assurance that his words would bring the result he wanted.

He turned from the cheval glass and fetched his car keys from the top of the chest of drawers. The fine sheen of dust that usually covered its walnut surface had been removed. This told Julian that his cousin had once again submitted to the cleaning furies, a sure sign that she'd met defeat yet another time in her determined course of sobering up her uncle.

Samantha had come to Derbyshire with just that intention eight months previously, an angel of mercy who'd one day shown up at Broughton Manor with the mission of reuniting a family torn asunder for more than three decades. She hadn't made much progress in that direction, however, and Julian wondered how much longer she was going to put up with his father's bent towards the bottle.

"We've got to get him off the booze, Julie," Samantha had said to him only that morning. "You must see how crucial it is at this point."
Nicola, on the other hand, knowing his father eight years and not merely eight months, had long been of a live-and-let-live frame of mind. She'd said more than once, "If your dad's choice is to drink himself silly, there's nothing you can do about it, Jules. And there's nothing that Sam can do either." But then, Nicola didn't know how it felt to see one's father slipping ever more inexorably towards debauchery, absorbed in intensely inebriated delusions about the romance of his past. She, after all, had grown up in a home where how things seemed was identical to how things actually were. She had two parents whose love never wavered, and she'd never suffered the dual desertion of a flower-child mother flitting off to "study" with a tapestry-clad guru the night before one's own twelfth birthday and a father whose devotion to the bottle far exceeded any attachment he might have displayed towards his three children. In fact, had Nicola ever once cared to analyse the differences in their individual upbringing, Julian thought, she might have seen that every single one of her bloody decisions—

At that he brought his thoughts up short. He would not head in that direction. He could not afford to head in that direction. He could not afford to let his mind wander from the task that was immediately at hand.

"Listen to me." He grabbed his wallet from the chest and shoved it into his pocket. "You're good enough for anyone. She got scared shitless. She took a wrong turn. That's the end of it. Remember that. And remember that everyone knows how good the two of you always were together."

He had faith in this fact. Nicola Maiden and Julian Britton had been part of each other's life for years. Everyone who knew them had long ago concluded that they belonged together. It was only Nicola who, it appeared, had never come to terms with this fact.

"I know that we were never engaged," he'd told her two nights previously in response to her declaration that she was moving away from the Peaks permanently and would only be back for brief visits henceforth. "But we've always had an understanding, haven't we? I wouldn't be sleeping with you if I wasn't serious about... Come on, Nick. Damn it, you know me."

It wasn't the proposal of marriage he'd planned on making to her, and she hadn't taken it as such. She'd said bluntly, "Jules, I like you enormously. You're terrific, and you've been a real friend. And we get on far better than I've ever got on with any other bloke."

"Then you see—"

"But I don't love you," she went on. "Sex doesn't equate to love. It's only in films and books that it does."

He'd been too stunned at first to speak. It was as if his mind had become a blackboard and someone had taken a rubber to it before he had a chance to make any notes. So she'd continued.

She would, she told him, go on being his girlfriend in the Peak District if that's what he wanted. She'd be coming to see her parents now and again, and she'd always have time—and be happy, she said—to see Julian as well. They could even continue as lovers whenever she was in the area if he wished. That was fine by her. But as to marriage? They were too different as people, she explained.

"I know how much you want to save Broughton Manor," she'd said. "That's your dream, and you'll make it come true. But I don't share that dream, and I'm not going to hurt either you or myself by pretending I do. That's not fair on anyone."

Which was when he finally repossessed his wits long enough to say bitterly, "It's the God damn money. And the fact I've got none, or at least not enough to suit your tastes."

"Julian, it isn't. Not exactly." She'd turned from him briefly, giving a long sigh. "Let me explain."

He'd listened for what had seemed like an hour, although she'd likely spoken ten minutes or less. At the end, after everything had been said between them and she'd climbed out of the Rover and disappeared into the dark gabled porch of Maiden Hall, he'd driven home numbly, shell-shocked with grief, confusion, and surprise, thinking No, she couldn't . . . she can't mean    No. After Sleepless Night Number One, he'd come to realise—past his own pain—how great was the need for him to take action. He'd phoned, and she'd agreed to see him. She would always, she said, be willing to see him.

He gave a final glance in the mirror before he left the room, and he treated himself to a last affirmation: "You were always good together. Keep that in mind."

He slipped along the dim upstairs passage of the manor house and looked into the small room that his father used as a parlour. His family's increasingly straitened financial circumstances had effected a general retreat from all the larger rooms downstairs that had slowly been made uninhabitable as their various antiques, paintings, and objets d'art were sold to make ends meet. Now the Brittons lived entirely on the house's upper floor. There were abundant rooms for them, but they were cramped and dark.

Jeremy Britton was in the parlour. As it was half past ten, he was thoroughly blotto, head on his chest and a cigarette burning down between his fingers. Julian crossed the room and removed the fag from his father's hand. Jeremy didn't stir.

Julian cursed quietly, looking at him: at the promise of intelligence, vigour, and pride completely eradicated by the addiction. His father was going to burn the place down someday, and there were times—like now—when Julian thought that complete conflagration might be all for the best. He crushed out Jeremy's cigarette and reached into his shirt pocket for the packet of Dunhills. He removed it and did the same with his father's lighter. He grabbed up the gin bottle and left the room.

He was dumping the gin, cigarettes, and lighter into the dustbins at the back of the manor house when he heard her speak.

"Caught him at it again, Julie?"

He started, looked about, but failed to see her in the gloom. Then she rose from where she'd been sitting: on the edge of the drystone wall that divided the back entrance of the manor from the first of its overgrown gardens. An untrimmed wisteria—beginning to lose its leaves with the approach of autumn—had sheltered her. She dusted off the seat of her khaki shorts and sauntered over to join him.

"I'm beginning to think he wants to kill himself," Samantha said in the practical manner that was her nature. "I just haven't come up with the reason why."

"He doesn't need a reason," Julian said shortly. "Just the means."

"I try to keep him off the sauce, but he's got bottles everywhere." She glanced at the dark manor house that rose before them like a fortress in the landscape. "I do try, Julian. I know it's important." She looked back at him and regarded his clothes. "You're looking very smart. I didn't think to dress up. Was I supposed to?"

Julian returned her look blankly, his hands moving to his chest to pat his shirt, searching for something that he knew wasn't there.

"You've forgotten, haven't you?" Samantha said. She was very good at making intuitive leaps.

Julian waited for elucidation.

"The eclipse," she said.

"The eclipse?" He thought about it. He clapped a hand to his forehead. "God. The eclipse. Sam. Hell. I'd forgotten. Is the eclipse tonight? Are you going somewhere to see it better?"

She said with a nod to the spot from which she'd just emerged, "I've got us some provisions. Cheese and fruit, some bread, a bit of sausage. Wine. I thought we might want it if we have to wait longer than you'd thought."

"To wait? Oh hell, Samantha..." He wasn't sure how to put it. He hadn't intended her to think he meant to watch the eclipse with her. He hadn't intended her to think he meant to watch the eclipse at all.

"Have I got the date wrong?" The tone of her voice spoke her disappointment. She already knew that she had the date right and that if she wanted to see the eclipse from Eyam Moor, she was going to have to hike out there alone.

His mention of the lunar eclipse had been a casual remark. At least, that's how he'd intended it to be taken. He'd said conversationally, "One can see it quite well from Eyam Moor. It's supposed to happen round half past eleven. Are you interested in astronomy, Sam?"

Samantha had obviously interpreted this as an invitation, and Julian felt a momentary annoyance with his cousin's presumption. But he did his best to hide it because he owed her so much. It was in the cause of reconciling her mother with her uncle—Julian's father—that she'd been making her lengthy visits to Broughton Manor from Winchester for the past eight months. Each stay had become progressively longer as she found more employment round the estate, either in the renovation of the manor house proper or in the smooth running of the tournaments, fêtes, and reenactments that Julian organised in the grounds as yet another source of Britton income. Her helpful presence had been a real godsend since Julian's siblings had long fled the family nest and Jeremy hadn't lifted a finger since he'd inherited  the property—and proceeded to populate it with his fellow flower-children and run it into the ground—shortly after his twenty-fifth birthday.

Still, grateful as Julian was for Sam's help, he wished his cousin hadn't assumed so much. He'd felt guilty about the amount of work she was doing purely from the goodness of her heart, and he'd been casting about aimlessly for some form of repayment. He had no available money to offer her, not that she would have needed or accepted it had he done so, but he did have his dogs as well as his knowledge of and enthusiasm for Derbyshire. And wanting to make her feel welcome for as long as possible at Broughton Manor, he'd offered her the only thing he had: occasional activities with the harriers as well as conversation. And it was a conversation about the eclipse that she had misunderstood.

Revue de presse

"Elizabeth George reigns as queen of the mystery genre. The Lynley books constitute the smartest, most gratifyingly complex and impassioned mystery series now being published."—Entertainment Weekly


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Détails sur le produit

  • Broché: 608 pages
  • Editeur : Bantam; Édition : Reprint (24 mars 2009)
  • Langue : Anglais
  • ISBN-10: 055338600X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0553386004
  • Dimensions du produit: 13,3 x 2,6 x 20,9 cm
  • Moyenne des commentaires client : 5.0 étoiles sur 5  Voir tous les commentaires (1 commentaire client)
  • Classement des meilleures ventes d'Amazon: 113.817 en Livres anglais et étrangers (Voir les 100 premiers en Livres anglais et étrangers)
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1 internautes sur 1 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile  Par Dominique Gerbaud sur 4 janvier 2010
Format: Poche
Dans la lande anglaise, deux personnes sont retrouvées mortes. Elizabeth George (qui est américaine), écrit des romans policiers plus anglais qu'anglais, où l'on retrouve avec plaisir ses personnages récurrents Tommy Linley et Barbara Havers. Une intrigue très originale.
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Commentaires client les plus utiles sur Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 187 commentaires
37 internautes sur 39 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
"Genius is nothing but continued attention." 27 janvier 2000
Par Un client - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Relié
(quoted: Claude A. Helvetius) Elizabeth George shows her genius in this book. If you are an EG fan, or a mystery fan, be forewarned - you may lose sleep, ignore your personal wellbeing and that of your family once you start this book. It begins with Lynley and Havers completely at odds with each other and takes you on a 594 page rollercoaster ride which includes two murders, two suicides, a spin through S&M-land, and more. I was right on the edge of my seat to almost the last page. An incredible story. I can't wait for her next one.
23 internautes sur 24 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
She keeps getting better! 13 mars 2000
Par Debbie Smetherham - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Relié
I became an Elizabeth George fan a couple of years ago when I read 'For the Sake of Elena'. I was so impressed, I immediately went back to the first book in the series and have now read them all. I think she's a fantastic author who keeps her readers interested in the ongoing lives of her main characters whilst introducing a new and fascinating murder mystery. 'In Pursuit of the Proper Sinner' does not disappoint - Ms George skilfully keeps you guessing (and misguessing!) right until the end. Fans will enjoy the next episode in the lives of Lynley and Havers. If you have not read Elizabeth George before, I suggest you try this on for size, then go back to the start of the series and read them all. The story is all the more enriched by knowing the history of these wonderful characters.
41 internautes sur 47 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
Elizabeth George does it twice as good with In Pursuit... 15 octobre 1999
Par Un client - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Relié
If you are an Elizabeth George fan you will find her latest Havers-Lynley mystery to be one of her finest. She has expertly woven not one but two murders together, leaving the reader to wonder who is the real target and who the killer. (I have read every single Havers-Lynely mystery and have yet to guess who the murder is, a mark of a truly great mystery writer.) As usual, George's grasp on English culture and language makes you want to expand your vocabulary and take a holiday to Jolly Old England. If you have never read George it is best to start with her first mystery and read in order. Though each book can and does stand well on it's own. It is easier in the long run to follow the history of the main characters DI Barbara Havers and her superiour Thomas Lynley from start to finish. I garauntee if you love mysteries that keep you guessing to the very end, if you love eloquent writing and superb use of vocabulary, you will thoroughly enjoy George. Be forwarned, once you get hooked on Havers and Lynley mysteries you will find you can hardly wait the two years George usually takes to research and write her next novel.
13 internautes sur 13 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
Another Elizabeth George winner! 10 septembre 1999
Par Wendy Los - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Relié
Any mystery lover worth his/her salt surely has to have Elizabeth George on their "must read" list! After reading George's first book, I was hooked, and now own and have thoroughly enjoyed all of her previous ten books. I eagerly awaited this latest book, and have not been disappointed. As usual her language is beautiful, no need for graphic sex scenes or foul language to try to catch one's attention - it is a pleasure to read such evocative writing. The plotting of this book is clever, and one can envisage each scene as it unfolds. George describes the countryside so perfectly, one feels as if one is there, and her understanding of England and the English, be it in language or by descriptive prose, makes the reader envious of her abilities. She is certainly in the genre of P.D. James and Ruth Rendell. This time we have Barbara Havers working in London away from her boss, Tommy Lynley, who has been called to Derbyshire by an old friend to help in solving two grisly murders. Havers, in spite of Lynley's orders, manages to get involved and has a great rapport with Nkata, the member of the team selected by Lynley to help him in Barbara's place, after her initial restment of him for taking her place. The story is full of twists and turns, ensuring that I had some sleepless nights as I hated to put the book down! I now await Elizabeth George's eleventh book with great anticipation. If you are anxious to read a big, beautifully written mystery, do read In Pursuit of the Proper Sinner - you will not be disappointed. George's writing puts to shame so many of today's "shocker" authors - if only they would realise that many readers are turned off by explicit sex and gore - they accomplish nothing by writing this way - there is too much lowering of standards at present, without having to write filth. I would respectfully suggest that any aspiring author read any Elizabeth George book - he/she could not fail to be impressed.
18 internautes sur 20 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
If you're a mystery fan reading them in order, this is probably where you should stop. 26 juillet 2007
Par E. Schechter - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Broché
I have been an Elizabeth George fan for years, mostly because she has had nice tight plots and Havers has been a very real character, touching and exasperating at the same time.

I wish somebody had been around to tell me when to quit, so that I did not go on to read the later books where the series went downhill so badly.

You can see the signs in this book, which is too long, includes some very unrealistic and unlikely situations, and has the characters behaving in the stupidest possible manner in order to move the story along.

Still, it's readable; it does tell a story. It's not as excellent as the early Lynley-Havers books were, but it's passable. The next one she wrote, A Traitor to Memory, really isn't. That one is over 200 pages too long, wallows around taking forever to tell a simple and rather dull story, and it shows all too clearly that Ms George has lost interest in her characters. From there she goes on to write one without Lynley and Havers, A Place of Hiding, in which Simon and Deborah fail to carry the weak plot and you have to listen to Deborah whine about her own shortcomings for hundreds of pages; then she writes one, With No One as Witness, that takes the regular characters and centers the story on them to the point where the angst overwhelms the thin story at tedious length. As I write this, the most recent book, What Came Before He Shot Her, isn't really a mystery at all, but what passes for a psychological study of a young murderer who apparently has troubles of his own that explain his murdering.

Please don't get me wrong; the first books are still very good, and I don't want to deny her any praise for them; she's earned her right to go off in a different direction and try not using a proper editor if she wishes to, and good luck to her. But if you are a reader who likes a good mystery story with all sorts of twists and red herrings and a process of solving the mystery to observe, enjoy, and try to anticipate--well, stop here, say thanks to the lady, and move on to some other series. If you've never read P.D. James, her writing is always restrained and elegant, the mystery element is always honest, and she has never written a book without having a story to carry it along; she never tears up her characters as a substitute for a good plot.
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