Sliding into the World of Elizabeth George

Elizabeth George - Believing the LieToday is a great day.

As I write this I have Elizabeth George’s new book, Believing The Lie, sitting here on my desk unread. It came out today. I bought it today. And I know once I start reading it, I won’t put it down. Then I will finish it and it will be over until the next one comes out.

I’m savoring that delicious moment of anticipation before I immerse myself in the world of Barbara Havers and Thomas Lynley once more. The moment before you take that first bite into that triple layer chocolate cake with the Almond Roca filling.

There are so few authors that make me feel this way, that I have decided I must tell you why I love these books. Yes, the PBS series is good too, but that mustn’t stop you from reading the books. I’m willing to bet that your seventh grade English teacher would agree with me on this point, so here we go…

  • Barbara Havers is a real (fictional) person. She gets crumbs on her shirt. Sometimes her shoes don’t match. On occasion, she cares too much, but all the best people do. She is really patient under extreme circumstances. So even though she is fictional, she’s real to me.
Elizabeth George: A Great Deliverance
The first Inspector Lynley mystery.
  • Havers and Lynley are friends. They have evolved to be more than work colleagues, and it is still just friendship between a man and a woman, which some people say isn’t possible. They have almost nothing in common, except for the really important things, like values and loyalty.
  • I get to go to England. I love England.  Reading about England in beautiful detail is the next best thing to being there. If I read one of George’s books, I don’t have to worry about jet lag or a ride to the airport.  And let’s face it, hardback books are expensive, but compared to a single night in a London hotel, it’s darn cheap.
  • The characters change. Life changes. These characters change. Bad things happen. Bad things happen to all of us too.  I have laughed and cried while reading these books. I know there are some people (you know who you are, and we must respectfully disagree on this point) who never like characters to change.  That gets a little tedious for me. George takes risks and I keep reading.
  • The relationships are complicated. The main characters have history. It plays into every book in new ways.  In case you haven’t read the books, or seen Mystery!, I won’t go into details here. You should just trust me and get a hold of a copy of A Great Deliverance now.
  • Every book is different. The same four orbital characters are always there – Barbara, Thomas, Deborah and Simon, but different characters are featured and the story always varies. Many series have “jumped the shark,” went on too long and declined in quality, after ten or eleven books. Elizabeth George is still going strong after sixteen.

These are all really superficial reasons why I love these books. We all know that if you truly love someone or something, there isn’t a single or even body of reasons that you can name. It just happens because it’s right.

Well, I’m off to start reading Believing the Lie. Don’t try to call. I’ve turned the ringer down on the phone.

Today is a great day.

Elizabeth George will be the American Guest of Honor at the annual Bouchercon crime fiction fan conference this year in Cleveland, Ohio, October 4-7.  This is a great conference — you get to see Elizabeth George, Robin Cook, Mary Higgins Clark and go to the Rock ’n’ Roll Hall of Fame all in the same weekend.  It will be a weekend full of crime fiction awesomeness. I hope to see you there.

“Jumping the shark” is a reference from an episode of Happy Days when a water skiing Fonzie actually jumped a shark to get ratings. I recently learned that there are people who say this but don’t really know what it means because they may be too young to have ever seen Happy Days. Shocking! These same people think the first Star Wars movie was The Phantom Menace. It’s our duty to help them along.

Deborah Lacy loves crime fiction a little too much. You can follow her on Twitter (@quippy), if you dare.


  1. Lynn Ristau

    I am finishing an Elizabeth George novel right now but I’m way at the beginning. I came to read George’s books through the television show which I came to because of an actor who I fell for on another television show! Were you able to follow that? I’ve seen all the Inspector Lynley mysteries (have them on DVD) and I enjoyed the relationship between Lynley and Havers that way so I decided to try the books. I’ve been enjoying them but because I came to them from the tv show I find I get annoyed when George focuses on St. James and Deborah when I just want Lynley and Havers. I realize these other characters help round out all the characters but I still get annoyed. I do enjoy the Helen of the books a lot more than the Helen of the tv series. I also enjoy the descriptions of England, it is like a quick visit. I’ve been finding myself reading more and more books set there over the years. Oh, I love Havers. I find little bits of me in her since I am a single female police officer too. Just little bits though, I think I’ve had a little better luck in the romance area than she (but I’m not far into the series yet!),

  2. caite fitzgerald

    I agree with your points, but I did not enjoy this book. Way too long, in great need of a lot of editing and just rambled and rambled on.

  3. Bev King

    I disliked this book (Believing the Lie) intensely. There is barely a ‘happily ever after’ in the book which I found unneccessary and irritating. This is the last of her books I’ll buy. I’ll be off to the library next year, read the ending first before I even check it out!

  4. Paula Adams

    Pre-ordered this book. I thought the previous novel was as close to perfect as a writer gets. This book was a flame out. I expect so much from E. George and she usually delivers but I was disappointed. I’ll pre-order the next book. I’m a loyal fan.

  5. Deborah Lacy

    @Elsandra – Wow. I am so impressed that you are a police officer. Thank you for all that you do. In any capacity that is so amazing.
    I am also very glad that you are having better luck in the romance area than Havers.
    I must confess the Havers focused books are my favorites. Lynley focused books second and then Simon and Deborah a distant third.

    @caite, @Bev King, @Paula Adams – One of the things I love most about Criminal Element is our forum to share opinions. Thank you for your comments. At book signings I’ve heard Ms. George says she writes for herself and not the audience. I respect her for that and believe it keeps her writing fresh. I hope you all give her books and Havers another chance.

  6. Kim m. Hammond

    I haven’t read the last few books, but I am very excited to meet her at Bouchercon 2012 in Cleveland. She’s a legend in the industry!

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