Wednesday, December 30, 2009

What Came Before He Shot Her by Elizabeth George

Originally posted for Harper Collins First Read Group, Nov. 15, 2006. This was my first review.

An important look at the darker side of London, I would assume it to be a prequel to “With No One As Witness”, previously written.

Having read several of Elizabeth George's mysteries, I was surprised to find myself reading an entirely different type of book. Do not expect this novel to include more than a mention of the characters from her well-known and beloved Detective Lynley series. At the outset, I was not too sure what I would think of it, but as I read I became totally drawn into the characters and unable to put the book down.

The characters are believable, volatile, and very well drawn. This novel takes us into the darkest parts of London and gives us insight into the people who must deal, on a daily basis, with the dangers and hopelessness portrayed here. The book, utilizing a mix of patois and formal English, is situated around one particular dysfunctional "family" and ultimately how the events led to the final desperate outcome.

The book itself is somewhat of a prequel to George’s previous novel "With No One As Witness". It unrelentingly takes us back into the events and crises in the life of a young boy determined to protect his siblings regardless of the dangers he must face. The final horror brings us full circle to the shooting and death of a Scotland Yard detective's wife. I found the book took me on a journey I would not normally want to take, but is well-written for its subject matter. It is definitely not a light read but well-executed.

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