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20 of 22 people found the following review helpful
If you're a mystery fan reading them in order, this is probably where you should stop.
on July 25, 2007
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.