Reviewed By: Fiona Walker
A Place of Hiding
Amazon US PB Amazon US HC Amazon Canada PB Amazon Canada HC
Class/Genre: Mystery Police Procedural
Series: Thomas Lynley & Barbara Havers # 13
Hodder and Stoughton, 2003, 568 pages
After what I consider to be the brilliant panoramic psychological masterpiece that was A Traitor To Memory, Elizabeth George here shifts the focus back to a more traditional story of crime and more onto her main characters once more, in a book that is sure to please all her fans immensely, despite their opinion of her last book.
Here, she takes the story to the Channel Island of Gurnsey, an enclosed community very much with its own individual identity, which she evokes very well indeed. One morning, Guy Brouard, millionaire and generous benefactor of many projects on the island, is killed on the beach after his morning swim, and his death will send disastrous ripples through not only his own fractured family, but the fragile community too.
A plethora of evidence is discovered that clearly implicates someone in the China, one China River, an American staying on the island for a few days after couriering a package for Guy over from the USA., and she is swiftly arrested. Desperate to prove his sisterís innocence, and having found no aid at the American embassy, Cherokee River (their mother was a hippie, of course) rushes to England to enlist the help of the only person he can think of Deborah St James, Chinaís old friend from youth. Maybe there is something she can do, perhaps? However, when even a word from friend in the Metropolitan Police Thomas Lynley has no influence upon the Gurnsey police, Deborah (with Cherokee and husband Simon in tow) hurries to the island to help save her friend, and to atone for past failings.
Fans of Elizabeth George will love this, If they donít mind that Deborah and Simon take the lead rather than the usual partnership of Lynley and Havers. Certainly I found it refreshing and rather nice that sheís brought these two characters out of the shadows a little more and given their relationship an almost incredible amount of depth all in a single book. George is adept at creating realistic and engrossing relationships between her main characters.
But, then, character has always been Georgeís strong point. There are very few writers today who can create so many completely rounded and whole and human characters, make them all equally interesting and give them all equal shrift and importance within a single novel.
And itís not as if she skimps on plot here, either. Itís developed, multi-stranded, paced very well indeed, has a very good solution and is wholly satisfying. She tells her story with beautiful and incredibly rich prose, and in my mind is probably the finest American exponent of this type of traditional British mystery (even if she doesnít always get it 100% right, but that doesnít matter.) Existing fans will love this book and may think it her strongest in a while, and I would also encourage anyone whose never read her before and likes this kind of book to begin with A Place Of Hiding as soon as possible.
Reprinted with permission. Do Not repost without permission from the author, Fiona Walker