Mystery Books for Sale

[ Home ]
[ About | Reviews | Search | Submit ]


by Elizabeth George
Hodder and Stoughton, June 2005
644 pages
ISBN: 0340827467

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

After the diversions of her previous book, A PLACE OF HIDING, set in Guernsey, Elizabeth George brings back all the elements that made the Inspector Lynley mysteries so popular in the first place, but adds something stunning. WITH NO ONE AS WITNESS is an episode that no follower of this series will ever forget.

Set mostly in Central London, Superintendent Lynley, Constable Barbara Havers and Sergeant Winston Nkata are on the track of a serial killer targeting young boys. To the huge embarrassment of the Metropolitan Police, no-one had actually linked the ritualistic deaths of three young black or mixed race boys in various parts of London. Then a policewoman investigating the fourth killing, but this time of a white youth, notices the similarity with a recent case she was involved with when seconded to another station.

Assistant Commissioner Hillier is worried about the media reaction to this in the aftermath of the Stephen Lawrence case, which accused the Met of institutional racism, and becomes obsessed with managing the PR aspects of the case from the outset. Some of his decisions are dubious in the extreme and lead to a series of extremely heated confrontations with Lynley and the team.

The team pursue the case in their usual manner; Lynley brings in Simon St James for expert legal advice, Havers doggedly and independently follows up her hunches and has trouble taking orders, and Winston is methodical and reliable.

There is a huge amount of police work to do. Initially just identifying the victims preoccupies the task force, followed by establishing a link between them all and following up leads based on forensic evidence and a television appeal. Lynley is under impossible pressure as he tries to deal with the case, manage a profiler he has thrust upon him by Hillier, and shield his team from media intrusion and internal politics.

Once a link seems to be established, and with the profiler's summary in mind, there are a few immediately possible suspects, but there are other things that don't fit and need following up too. Investigating these tangents may lead to the resolution but could be a fatal diversion when time is at a premium, because all the while the killer is planning his future crimes.

As we track the main protagonists through the painstaking process of sifting through vast piles of potential leads, we follow them in their private lives too. Winston Nkata is still interested in Yasmin, an ex-con he met on a previous case, and trying to summon the courage to ask her out; Barbara Havers continues her complicated relationship with her neighbours, Azhar and Hadiyyah; and Thomas Lynley is preparing for fatherhood.

The reader also spends mercifully short periods of time in the killer's mind, as well as with other key characters as the plot unfolds. There is just the right level of uncertainty about who the killer may be, and how the tale will conclude, and just enough twists and turns to keep the reader gripped until the story reaches its powerful final chapters and devastating conclusion.

Elizabeth George has taken a huge risk with this novel, both in taking on the somewhat tired serial killer theme, and in the development of her series characters, and deserves immense credit for the result. If you're a fan of the series, don't even think of waiting for the paperback.

Reviewed by Bridget Bolton, May 2005

[ Top ]



Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

[ About | Reviews | Search | Submit ]
[ Home ]