The brutal, inexplicable death of Inspector Thomas Lynley's wife has left Scotland Yard shocked and searching for answers. Even more horrifying is that the trigger was apparently pulled by a twelve-year-old boy. Who is he? Where did he come from? And what were the circumstances that led to his final act of desperation?
That story begins on the other side of London, in rough North Kensington, where the three mixed-race, virtually orphaned Campbell children are bounced first from their grandmother then to their aunt. The oldest, fifteen-year-old Ness, is headed for trouble as fast as her high-heeled boots will take her. That leaves the middle child, Joel, to care for the youngest, Toby. No one wants to put it into words, but something clearly isn't right with Toby.
Before long, there are signs that Joel himself has problems. A local gang starts harassing him and threatening his brother. To protect his family, Joel makes a pact with the devil—a move that leads straight to the front doorstep of Thomas Lynley.
The anatomy of a murder, the story of a family in crisis, What Came Before He Shot Her is a powerful, emotional novel full of deep psychological insights, a novel that only the incomparable Elizabeth George could write.
Bestseller George (With No One as Witness) departs from the usual investigative nuts and bolts of her Thomas Lynley and Barbara Havers mystery thrillers with this searing examination of the lives of one horribly dysfunctional family and their immigrant London milieu. Switching uncomfortably at times from dialogue in a rough patois to exposition in a language both formal and sociological, George delivers a stinging indictment of a society unable to respond effectively to the needs of its poorer citizens. Kendra Osborne, a 40-year-old woman with modest ambitions and plans to achieve them, has no idea how to cope when her mother "dumps" her sister's three children on her doorstep and heads for Jamaica. Fifteen-year-old Ness, 11-year-old Joel and seven-year-old Toby each have a wealth of problems exacerbated by their mixed-race heritage. It's no accident that George refers to Dickens on the first page of this earnest but perhaps overly didactic novel, which focuses on the burdens borne by Joel as he's swept by forces he can neither understand nor control into a fatal encounter. 8-city author tour.
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This is a departure from the norm for Elizabeth George as it has a grittier sensibility born of a more tragic tale. There is as always, her hallmark plot development through descriptive analysis of the characters and their environment. This book is a great read that will grab your attention and hold you until the surprising conclusion.