Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Book Review: Just One Evil Act by Elizabeth George

Just One Evil Act
Elizabeth George
Published by: Dutton Adult
Publishing Date: Oct. 15, 2013
ISBN: 9780525952961

Amazon Synopsis:

#1 New York Times bestselling author Elizabeth George delivers another masterpiece of suspense in her Inspector Lynley series: a gripping child-in-danger story that tests Detective Sergeant Barbara Havers like never before.

Barbara is at a loss: The daughter of her friend Taymullah Azhar has been taken by her mother, and Barbara can’t really help
Azhar had never married Angelina, and his name isn’t on Hadiyyah’s, their daughter’s, birth certificate. He has no legal claim. Azhar and Barbara hire a private detective, but the trail goes cold.

Azhar is just beginning to accept his soul-crushing loss when Angelina reappears with shocking news: Hadiyyah is missing, kidnapped from an Italian marketplace. The Italian 

police are investigating, and the Yard won’t get involved, until Barbara takes matters into her own hands at the risk of her own career. 

As both Barbara and her partner, Inspector Thomas Lynley, soon discover, the case is far more complex than a typical kidnapping, revealing secrets that could have far-reaching effects outside of the investigation.  With both her job and the life of a little girl on the line, Barbara must decide what matters most, and how far she’s willing to go to protect it.

Book Links

My Thoughts:

The eighteenth book in the Inspector Lynley series, Just One Evil Act strongly features Thomas Lynley’s partner Detective Sargent Barbara Havers. Taymullah Azhar is Barbara’s friend and neighbour. When Azhar’s daughter Hadiyyah is stolen by her mother, he asks Barbara for help. Legally, Barbara can’t do a thing since he never married Angelina, Hadiyyah’s mother and Azhar is not listed on the birth certificate. But this doesn’t stop Barbara, who often acts with her heart, and not with her head.

Hiring a private investigator, the trail nevertheless goes cold. Then out of the blue, Angelina and her fiancé show up demanding that Azhar return Hadiyyah, claiming that Azhar has kidnapped her from Italy where they have been living.

Barbara takes matters into her own hands and puts her job in jeopardy. DI Thomas Lynley is sent to Italy to act as liaison between the authorities there, the victim’s parents and the British authorities.

Solving the kidnapping would be enough for many authors, but not Ms. George. The book then takes a twist and the death of someone dear to Hadiyyah occurs. But is the death due to medical complications or murder? Barbara takes off to Lucca, Italy to support Hadiyyah, in defiance of Superintendent Ardery’s direct orders.

As most of the story is set in Italy, the author used quite a few Italian words and phrases. It gave the book more of the feeling of being in Italy and an understanding of how Barbara, who doesn’t speak Italian, might have felt when spoken to by Chief Inspector Salvator Lo Bianco, and others who speak no English. Most of the time I was able to interpret the Italian words and phrases by the context, but I admit I had to use Google Translate for some of them.

This book was a virtual roller-coaster ride of twists and turns in the plot. At first you are pretty sure you know who committed the crime. Then something happens and you are nowhere near correct. I was reading the book on my iPad, so unless you specifically check to see where you are in the book, you don’t really know. There were a few times when I thought that for sure the book would soon be coming to its conclusion, but then another twist in the track would demonstrate that we weren’t done the ride yet.

Ms. George has a lovely way of adding some humour into her novel as well. Thinking that she was poking fun at her own country when she made her reference to the “picture of an inebriated naked prince clutching at the crown jewels as someone snapped away with a mobile’s camera” had me chuckling. She let us see into the humorous way Barbara thinks when she purchases some food and spends copious amounts of time on a stake-out in a restaurant where the shopkeepers “inquired as to her marital status, possibly as a suitable mate for a son who hung about the place with a suspicious dribble of drool escaping from his gaping mouth.”

Ms. George did an excellent job in character development and in allowing us to see the emotional part of her characters. I was nearly in tears a couple of times when we were able to glimpse the grief that Thomas still feels for Helen (his deceased wife) and the sorrow Barbara feels at the loss of her friends.

I loved the way Ms. George was able to create in my mind a picture of Barbara Havers. I remember thinking as I read a description of the disreputable way DS Havers dressed for work with her slogan embossed T-shirts and socks with cupcakes on them, that she’d make a wonderful TV character. Then as I was preparing this review, I discovered that many of Ms. George’s novels from the Thomas Lynley series have been adapted for television.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this novel. It deserves 5 stars and should be recommended to anyone who enjoys reading book series and mystery/thrillers.

Thank you to NetGalley, who provided me with an advance reader copy in exchange for my fair and honest review. All thoughts are my own. 

About the Author:

Elizabeth George was born in Ohio but raised in California. She now resides in Washington State. She received a teaching degree from the University of California Riverside. She also attended the California State University at Fullerton and earned her master’s degree in Counseling/Psychology. In 2004 she was awarded an honorary doctorate of humane letters.  Then in 2010 she received an honorary Masters in Fine Arts from the Northwest Institute of Literary Arts.

Ms. George began her career not as a writer, but as a teacher. She taught high school English at El Toro High School in El Toro, California (now known as Lake Forest, California), until she retired. She was named Orange County Teacher of the Year for nearly a decade’s work with remedial students.

Contact Elizabeth George
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