REVIEW: JUST ONE EVIL ACT BY ELIZABETH GEORGE

JUST ONE EVIL ACT

Author: Elizabeth George
Hodder & Stoughton RRP $32.99
Review: Monique Mulligan

Cover of Just One Evil Act by Elizabeth George

Too long. That’s the short review of Elizabeth George’s Just One Evil Act, which is a hefty 700+ pages. The slow burning thriller has a lot to commend it, including a good sense of place, clever plotting and plenty of surprises, but it could have had all those things and some tougher editing to cut it down in length. Although it’s book 18 in her long-running Inspector Lynley series (of which I’ve only read one, I believe), DI Thomas Lynley’s role seems secondary to Detective Segeant Barbara Havers in this book.

DS Havers is devastated when her friend’s daughter disappears from London. She wants to help her friend, but since the little girl, Hadiyyah Upman, has been taken by her mother, and the father is not listed on the birth certificate, there is little they can do. Five months later, Hadiyyah’s mother, Angelina, is back in London with her lover, demanding to know where Hadiyyah is. The girl has been kidnapped from an open air market in Lucca, Italy and Angelina blames her ex-partner. When the British police are slow to respond, Havers uses a tabloid journalist to get exposure, and prompt New Scotland Yard to get involved.

Regarded as a loose cannon by her superiors, Havers is overlooked when it comes to investigating the case. Instead, DI Lynley is sent to Italy to handle the situation. In Lucca, he has to overcome territorial issues, language difficulties and an Italian magistrate hell-bent on convicting the wrong person for the crime. Meanwhile, Havers is investigating from the London end – unauthorised, of course – and upsetting people on the way. What starts out as a kidnapping case morphs into a murder case and that’s when the plot twists come thick and fast.

As I said, there are a number of things to commend in this book, including a plot more complicated than it first appeared. I especially liked the scenes set in Italy and exploring the cultural differences between the two investigating countries. The references to cyber-crime and how easily information can be manipulated were fascinating. However, the length of the book and the over-use of untranslated Italian phrases made the book slower going than I expected from a crime thriller. I knew enough Italian to get the gist several times, but others I was left lost. Things get lost in translation and it was tiresome to keep looking things up on an online translator.The storyline involving Havers and her as-you-please duties acted as a good distraction, but I did find it frustrating after a time.

Would I read another Elizabeth George novel? I think so, if one came my way. I’d like to read some of the earlier ones. What about you?

Available from good bookstores and Hachette Australia. This copy was courtesy of Hachette.

Bookish treat: Leftover Lindt balls and other goodies from Christmas were my late-night treats. Naughty me. Still, one Lindt ball a night is not so bad.