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Book Review: Just One Evil Act by Elizabeth George

Just One Evil Act by Elizabeth George

Elizabeth George is an American author who writes first-class detective mysteries set in Britain, and her novels shrewdly capture British sensibilities from a sifted outsiders view. Detective Inspector Thomas Lynley returns again, a rich earl with impeccable manners, an intelligent mind and someone who is extremely ethical. But it is his old partner, the dishevelled and unruly Detective Sergeant Barbara Havers who takes centre stage in this novel. She puts her career on the line when she attempts to help a close friend. And this time the action goes to Italy…

The novel opens when Barbara’s neighbour from Pakistan, Azhar, learns that his nine-year-old daughter Hadiyyah has disappeared from London in the company of her mother. No one knows where they are and the British police can do nothing to help. After all the child is with her mother, and Azhar isn’t on the birth certificate. Five months later, Hadiyyah is kidnapped from Lucca, Italy. Barbara immediately volunteers to go over to work the case, but is told unequivocally that it isn’t a case for British police. Determined that something should happen, concerned about the little girl and more than a little in love with Azhar, Barbara takes desperate action and leaks the news to a tabloid hack, and soon the full glare of media is focussed on the missing girl. But it is Barbara’s superior officer, DI Thomas Lynley who is assigned to liaise with the Italian police.

This is an intelligent read, one that is character-driven with increasingly passionate people. It is also a masterfully written crime novel with plenty of twists and turns before the truth finally emerges. Much of the tension comes from Barbara Havers seemingly crossing every line possible in her attempts to help her friend, despite growing evidence that he is lying and hiding crucial information from her. Fans of Elizabeth George will love this novel - but so too will anyone who is new to her writing.

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