Sunday, April 30, 2006

With No One As Witness, by Elizabeth George

With No One As Witness, by Elizabeth George

Elizabeth George has often stated that she wants to avoid creating formulaic books—she certainly succeeded here! At the end of the story, the lead investigator (and title character of the Inspector Lynley novels) has quit New Scotland Yard and his wife has been killed. She had been a central figure in previous novels, and I was really surprised at the way this was handled. Not the death itself (predictably caused by the serial killer being pursued in the A-story but in a fashion unlike his regular MO) but in the seemingly offhand manner it was presented. George had a serious case of Girlfriend in the Refrigerator Syndrome when she wrote this chapter!

The mystery that our band of heroes is trying to solve in this episode frankly isn’t that interesting. A serial killer is stalking young boys and the police don’t notice until the fourth victim is discovered, which also happens to be the first white one. This sets the press off on a hunt for racism within New Scotland Yard. Because we also see some scenes from the killer’s point-of-view we know that race isn’t a factor, but the media and police spin-doctors go wild. This topic could have been better developed, but was still more interesting than the manhunt itself.

If you are a fan of the Lynley novels, this is a good read because of all the major character development. (If you aren’t, start with an earlier novel where the plotlines are more interesting.) I am curious to see how these changes will affect the dynamics between the characters, but as the next book promises to be a prequel it will be a long time before we see what is in store for them.

First Sentence:
Detective Constable Barbara Havers considered herself one lucky bird: The drive was empty.

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