Sunday, November 05, 2006

A Disappointing Book from Elizabeth George

In today's paper I saw that Elizabeth George's new novel, What Came Before He Shot Her, is #7 and rising on The New York Times best-seller list. I wonder who is reading this book, because I'm sure not!

This is a prequal to the previous book in George's Inspector Lynley series, With No One as Witness, in which an important supporting character is killed. (No names mentioned in case you are still reading the rest of the series!) It's not Inspector Lynley or his sidekick Constable Havers, but it is someone close to them. The book ends with Lynley resigning from Scotland Yard and Havers uncertain about the future.

What Came Before He Shot Her
does nothing to advance the series storyline. Instead it's 600 wretched pages about the wretched life of the 12-year-old who killed the important supporting character. It's grueling, realistic, and awful beyond words. If you like torturing yourself with realistic fiction, you'll love it, but that's not why I read mysteries. Where is the sense of closure or justice?

Don't bother looking for your favorite characters, either. The important supporting character shows up for two pages (long enough to die), Havers and Sergeant N'kata show up for only two pages (in a scene from With No One as Witness), and Lynley doesn't even appear.

Don't mistake me: I like George's writing style and loved all of her previous books. That's what makes this one all the more disappointing.

1 comment:

Evie Sears said...

I just finished reading this book. I was not overly disappointed, as I could see why George wanted to fill in the "backstory" of Helen's murder. I felt it was a pretty decent effort, albeit about a depressing situation, but it's not George at her best. I, too, hope she returns to the regular cast in her next book.