Wednesday, November 07, 2007

What Came Before He Shot Her, by Elizabeth George

What Came Before He Shot Her, by Elizabeth George

This book tells the story of the kid that killed Helen Lynley in George's last book. It was an interesting tale, but I found it way too long. We learn not only about why an eleven year old boy would shoot a stranger, but about his brother, sister, mother, aunt, everyone. Almost 600 pages of an overly-intricate plot, telling an extremely bleak and depressing tale. George's editor did her a huge disservice by not tightening this up.

The author's intent was clearly to generate sympathy for the killer, to try and get the reader to see that violent crimes aren't all committed by evil people. I think it was laid on way too thick: murder, rape, theft, abandonment, child abuse, drugs, gangs, and mental handicaps all affected this family. We are supposed to think that society put Joel into a situation where he committed a heinous crime, but the truth of the matter is he knew what he was getting into. I hope George leaves the political posturing to the editorial page of the paper and gets back to writing mysteries.

First Sentence:
Joel Campbell, eleven years old at the time, began his descent towards murder with a bus ride.

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