04 August 2014

The Inspector Lynley Mysteries, Book 18

Acquired June 2014
Read July 2014
Just One Evil Act
by Elizabeth George

For three years now, I've read an Inspector Lynley novel every four months... finally I've caught up! Sometimes I wonder if it's really been worth it-- there have been some awful ones-- but Just One Evil Act is somewhere in the middle. It has a number of distinct phases: 1) Barbara Havers's neighbor Hadiyyah is "kidnapped" by her mother, 2) Hadiyyah is actually kidnapped and Lynley is sent to Italy to investigate, and 3) Havers crosses the line helping Hadiyyah's dad and Lynley debates intervention. Part 1 is a necessary prologue, but part 2 is just dead boring. As far as I can tell, Lynley never even actually investigates anything, he just talks to Italian policeman and magistrates while Havers tries to help from the UK. There are also long scenes where all of the dialogue is in Italian. How is that even narratively justifiable? Oh God, it was painful. It's George's wheel-spinning narratives at their worst, and it all could have been handled much more quickly because it's not the actual point of the novel.

It's all really there for part 3, the real meat of the book-- how far will Havers go? She makes choices that make you yell at the book, but George knows her character: they're all perfectly plausible ones. It's well written, and a great mystery even pops up. But man.. why's it got to take so long to get to the point of the great mystery? The thing about George is that even if you only get half of a good book, her books are so long that that's still more good writing than you might get out of a complete novel by another writer.

(Also, seriously, George needs to stop talking about computers, because no matter how much research she does, she just comes across like my grandmother trying to use facebook.)

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