\An age-old question--does love have a place in the mystery?--is answered at an exquisitely leisurely length in this prequel to A Great Deliverance, Payment in Blood and Well-Schooled in Murder, which first introduced the estimable Eighth Earl of Asherton, a.k.a. Detective Inspector Thomas Lynley; his closest friend, forensic scientist Simon Allcourt-St. James; and the two women who, in varying ways, loved them both--gentle Deborah, a young photographer; and Lady Helen, a sophisticated socialite-scientist. Here, "Thommy" is bringing fiancee Deborah to met his mother at the family's Cornwall estates. To round out the engagement party, Simon and Lady Helen join them, as do Thommy's coke-addled brother Peter; Simon's younger sister Sidney and her abusive lover, Justin Brooke; and Deborah's dad, houseman/valet to the handicapped Simon. While the less-than-amicable house-party gets under way (Thommy and his mother haven't spoken in 15 years; the two brothers have long been at odds; Simon is grieving at the thought of Deborah marrying Thommy; Brooke rapes Sidney; and Thommy awkwardly tries to make polite conversation with his mother's long-term lover, Dr. Roderick Trenarrow, a cancer researcher), a supposedly womanizing newsman is viciously murdered. Then Brooke, a biochemist researching the drug Incomet, is killed, and there seem to be links to Peter, Dr. Trenarrow, and the Lynley estate manager. Lynley and Simon gingerly assist the Cornwall police, deftly steering them away from gun-running theories, self-sacrificing fathers, and suicide as possibilities. Justice is finally served--but not before a plenitude of those emotional relationships that carve notches on the heart are fully, wrenchingly explored. The prose is perhaps a shade too overwrought, but, still, Anglophiles--along with George's many fans--will want to queue up for this one.