11 June 2012

The Inspector Lynley Mysteries, Book 13

Mass market paperback, 774 pages
Published 2006 (originally 2005)
Acquired and read May 2012
With No One As Witness
by Elizabeth George

I've struggled with the last few Lynley/Havers stories, but somehow Elizabeth George is right back on track with this one.  The characters are actually working together, the mystery actually starts right at the beginning, and I actually never had to force myself to keep on reading.  It's not the very traditional mystery structure of most of her other novels, as in this case Lynley is put in charge of a big Scotland Yard effort to stop a serial killer at work in London.  But it works despite that; indeed, the parts of the novel that work least well are the most traditional, as Havers talks to person after person in a youth outreach program.  It takes a better writer than most to make the internal politics of a youth outreach program interesting.  But the rest-- the methodical, slow hunt for evidence, often grasping at straws, as the killer operates with impunity-- makes for good reading.  It's horrifying at times, but that's George at her best for you.  Havers gets a chance to shine here, more than she has in any of these novels for what feel like a long time.

I still wonder why she hates Havers so much.  I mean, Lynley has his faults, but they're the kind of faults that aren't really faults: he's too forthright, he cares too much, he's too responsible.  Oh, how dreadful for him.  On the other hand, Havers's inability to dress herself reaches new heights of absurdity in this installment.  Cut the poor woman a break and let her wear a nice pair of pants without a ketchup stain on them, okay?

There's a big "shock" at the end, or rather there would be if I cared about any of the characters who weren't Lynley, Havers, Taymullah, Hadiyyah, and Nkata.  Okay, that's more than I thought, but why is the rest of the supporting cast so... insipid?

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