|Mass market paperback, 722 pages
Published 2007 (originally 2006)
Acquired September 2012
Read November 2012
by Elizabeth George
Like many of the latter "Inspector Lynley Mysteries," What Came Before He Shot Her demonstrates George's desire to expand the series beyond being a series of mysteries solved by an English peer and his lower-class sidekick. In this case, the novel fills in the life of the young kid who killed Lynley's wife at the climax of With No One As Witness. It's okay. Like a lot of the latter Lynley novels, it's about 200 pages too long; I get that you're supposed to think this kid has no options in life, but there comes a point where the repeated horribleness of his life becomes monotonous to the reader. It also seems a bit contrived; one would hope that the world isn't as horrible as George paints it here, and the ways in which people fail to help our protagonist go a little too far at some points.
Also of note: there's lot of characters in this book who have failed to reach their potential and become criminals or dropouts... and they're all men. We're told all these seemingly thuggish men read philosophy or are great poets or whatever. They have potential they've failed to realize, and we're meant to feel sorry as a result. The criminal/thuggish women, though... they're just that way, sexual creatures apparently without even unrealized intellectual potential. It's very weird.