Book review: Just One Evil Act

Saturday, October 12, 2013 Permalink

American Elizabeth George first introduced the very-English Detective Inspector Thomas Lynley and Detective Sergeant Barbara Havers in A Great Deliverance back in 1988. Shockingly this means they’ve been working together for 25 years, so it’s no wonder they now know each other pretty damned well. (And yes… I do know they’re not real people!)

In her 18th Lynley / Havers novel George picks up where she left off in her 2012 book, Believing the Lie. Thomas is considering a new relationship and Havers is grappling with the kidnapping of her neighbour, nine year old Hadiyyah – seemingly taken by her mother, Angela.

I have to admit, although I’ve read all of George’s Inspector Lynley novels and have long been a fan, I’ve struggled with the more recent ones. I was worried she’d hit her peak back in the early 2000s and was grappling to find new material. In many ways I’d really stopped caring about Thomas and Barbara.

cover31309-mediumJust One Evil Act felt like a bit of a departure from many of her recent efforts and a return to her old work.

Barbara – always strong-willed and defiant – is far more so as she sets about helping her neighbour Taymullah find his daughter.

Things get complicated when Angela reappears in England after five months to accuse Taymullah of kidnapping Hadiayya from her new home in Italy. Barbara is adamant that her neighbour wouldn’t do such a thing and the English police become involved in the hunt. However Havers soon learns that Taymullah may not be completely blameless; and a subsequent murder makes a convoluted tale even murkier.

And although having been forbidden by her bosses, Havers – not content to let the Italian police and Angela’s wealthy boyfriend control the investigation – decides to take matters into her own hands.

The novel spans a couple of countries and introduces some new faces (Italian Chief Inspector Salvatore Lo Bianco is particularly likeable and I wonder if he’ll pop up again – a spinoff series perhaps?).

hachetteLynley plays a less prominent role in George’s latest novel – continuing to (try to) bring reason to his partner’s impulsive and reckless actions – and it’s Havers who drives this investigation.

I’ve been following Lynley and Havers for over 2o years now and this felt like a return to the characters I know and love. I haven’t been a fan of the introduction of their new boss (Isabelle) – for reasons which will be obvious to regular readers. And I know it’s kinda pathetic, but I’ve kinda missed the “you’ve got a title” banter around Lynley, and like Havers better when she’s really not toeing the line!

Interestingly, events at the end of Just One Evil Act signify another change in direction for our two characters – and one that makes me look forward to George’s next Lynley / Havers instalment.

Just One Evil Act will be available from 15 October 2013, from Hodder & Stoughton in the UK, Penguin Group in the USA, and Hachette Australia.

I received a copy of this book from Penguin Group via NetGalley for review purposes.

Are you a Lynley and Havers fan?
Did you ever see the TV series? Must confess, it really didn’t do it for me and I was disappointed that books I loved failed to impress on the small screen!

  • Jo Tracey
    October 12, 2013

    Thanks Deb…I’ll be reading it. I agree re your comments around Lynley’s title banter & Haver’s chaos & also dislike Isabelle…

    • Debbish
      October 13, 2013

      I think I just found the Lynley and Isabelle scenario unbelievable (as in not-believable, rather than shocking).

  • Lee-Anne
    October 12, 2013

    Thanks, will definitely be reading this new one…am a big Elizabeth George fan (and Lynley and Havers of course!) Have you seen the BBC series based on the novels? It’s surprisingly good 🙂

    • Debbish
      October 13, 2013

      Lee-Anne, I did see the TV series but wasn’t a fan. Neither character looked as I’d imagined and it really just didn’t appeal at all! I was actually disappointed.

  • Satu
    October 13, 2013

    You have been reviewing a ton of books lately! Maybe I should start that new blog so I could do the same…

    I have never been a Havers / Lynley fan. I read some of the books years ago but something about them kept bugging me – perhaps it was the tangled relationships that annoyed me so, I’m not sure anymore. I do like the actor who plays Lynley in the tv-series 🙂

    Re our earlier discussion about Anita Brookner, I came to the conclusion that I was too young when I first read her novels. They are a much better read them when you’re middle-aged yourself. 🙂

    • Debbish
      October 14, 2013

      I’m the opposite Satu, I didn’t really like the TV series and the actor – Nathaniel Parker – though attractive, just wasn’t Lynley. For some reason I’d imagined Lynley as a blonde…

      You’re right re Anita Brookner. I think you need to be sympathetic to the content of her novels – or you’d just want to slap her characters around the head and tell them to wake up to themselves. 😉

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