Just One Evil Act by Elizabeth George is the seventeenth installment of the Inspector Lynley series (available October 15, 2013).
Inspector Thomas Lynley, the eighth earl of Asherton, and Detective Sergeant Barbara Havers are back in the latest novel by Elizabeth George, Just One Evil Act. This book is set both in London and in Italy, which adds a fun new dimension to the book.
In Just One Evil Act, we get a great mix of my favorite regular characters from Elizabeth George’s previous novels. Detective Sergeant Barbara Havers returns at her poorly dressed but obstinate best. Inspector Thomas Lynley has regained his footing although he is a much-changed man. One of the main reasons I love this series is the relationship between the police detective earl and his very common sergeant.
We also see the return of Barbara’s favorite neighbors—Talmullah Azhar and his daughter, Haddiyah. The book gets rolling immediately when little Haddiyah is snatched away by her mother and taken away from Azhar. Of course, Barbara involves herself in the investigation, although Azhar was not named on Haddiyah’s birth certificate and has therefore has no legal standing as her parent.
Here’s the first Havers/Lynley interaction in the book after Lynley forgets to return an urgent phone call from his friend and favorite detective sergeant:
“Bloody hell,” she cried. “Why didn’t you ring back? I’ve been sitting here. And he’s alone over there. And I don’t know what to do or what to tell him because the worst of it is that there’s sod all anyone can do to help and I know it and I lied to him and said we’d do something and I need your help. Because there has to be something—"
“Barbara.” She sounded completely undone. It was so unlike her to babble like this that Lynley knew something was badly wrong. “Barbara. Slow down. What’s happened?”
The story that she told came out in disjointed pieces. Lynley was able to pick up very few details because she was speaking so fast. Her voice was odd. She’d either been weeping—which hardly seemed likely—or she’d been drinking. The latter made little sense, however, considering the urgency of the story she had to tell. Lynley put together what he could from the salient details:
The daughter of her neighbor and friend Talmullah Azhar was missing. Azhar, a science professor at University College London, had come home to find the family flat stripped of nearly all possessions belonging to his nine-year old daughter as well as to her mother. Only the child’s school uniform remained, along with a stuffed animal and her laptop, all of this lying on her bed.
There are also many new, deeply developed characters that include (without spoilers):
- The involvement of one persistent and rather obnoxious tabloid journalist,
- A charismatic Italian police inspector who gets thrust into the middle of everything, and
- A team of private investigators.
I loved all 719 pages of this book. If you like literary mysteries with well-drawn characters, a fresh plot, and international locations, just dive on in. The water is fine. But fair warning, you might want to start reading Just One Evil Act on a weekend because the book is very hard to put down.
If you have never read Elizabeth George’s books and have never seen the PBS Mystery! Series based on her work, I recommend that you start at the beginning with her first novel, A Great Deliverance. The Inspector Lynley novels are just too good to miss.
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