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Elizabeth George is perhaps best known for being a Californian from Ohio who somehow writes pitch-perfect British police procedurals. She's even received the ultimate imprimatur, having the BBC turn her books into a tv series. That's how I was introduced to her Inspector Thomas Lynley (Nathaniel Parker), who's also the eighth Earl of Asherton, and his bitter working-class sidekick, Barbara Havers (Sharon Small). The films are diverting enough, but this first novel goes a long way to filling in just why Havers is so insecure, self-loathing, and difficult for even the eminently understanding Lynley to work with, a theme the series relies on heavily.

Ms George packs her mystery too full of stock background--haunted manors and ripper murders--and overbroad characters--amusingly enough, it's the American tourists who are the worst caricatures--but a first-time novelist can always be excused for trying too hard to please; after all, they may never get another chance. But the mystery at the heart of Ms George's story--about a beheaded farmer, whose near-catatonic daughter is found soaked in blood beside him--is so deftly handled and the Lynley/Havers interaction so compelling that she won both the Edgar and Agatha awards for Best First Novel and was launched on her best-selling career. Excuse her some rookie jitters and set aside a decent-sized chunk of time as you're not unlikely to gulp down A Great Deliverance in just one sitting.


Grade: (A-)


See also:

Susan George Links:

    -AUTHOR SITE: Elizabeth George Online
    -INTERVIEW: An Interview with Best-selling author Elizabeth George (WHYY TV12)
    -PROFILE: Golly! A Yank Wrote Those Oh-So-British Mysteries? (MEL GUSSOW, December 14, 1999, NY Times)
    -MEET THE WRITERS: Elizabeth George (Barnes & Noble)
    -PROFILE: Elizabeth George (Book Reporter)
    -Elizabeth George (Tangled Web)
    -ARCHIVES: "elizabeth george" (Find Articles)
    -REVIEW: of A Great Deliverance by Elizabeth George (JP, Mystery Guide)
    -REVIEW: of Payment in Blood by Elizabeth George (Josh Rubins, NY Times Book Review)
    -REVIEW: of For the Sake of Elena by Elizabeth George (Herbert Mitgang, NY Times)
    -REVIEW: of A Place of Hiding by Elizabeth George (John Escott, Shots)
    -REVIEW: of With no one as Witness by Elizabeth George (Sue Turnbull, The Age)
    -REVIEW: of With no one as Witness (Judith Rhodes, Tangled Web)

    -FILMOGRAPHY: Elizabeth George (
    -Inspector Lynley Homepage (BBC)
    -The Inspector Lynley Mysteries (Wikipedia)
    -MYSTERY! | The Inspector Lynley Mysteries | Author Elizabeth George (PBS)
    -The Inspector Lynley Mysteries (The crime and mystery website)

Book-related and General Links: