Customer Reviews for

What Came before He Shot Her (Inspector Lynley Series #14)

Average Rating 3.5
( 78 )
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(32)

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(9)

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(6)

2 Star

(12)

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(19)

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Most Helpful Favorable Review

2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

Best Book I've Read in a Long Time

This is a very well-constructed novel. The suspense is generated
with the title: you don't know who "he" is nor do you know "her". All characters are well-developed. The plot is interwoven beautifully. The dialogue takes only a few moments to catch the rhythm: dys...
This is a very well-constructed novel. The suspense is generated
with the title: you don't know who "he" is nor do you know "her". All characters are well-developed. The plot is interwoven beautifully. The dialogue takes only a few moments to catch the rhythm: dysfunctional Black family in London with Jamaican ties. Great story. Great read. I don't usually like the so-called detective series. This is in a class by itself. I have been passing it along to all my friends and family.

posted by LeslieDK on July 25, 2009

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Most Helpful Critical Review

1 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

Different, well written but overall disappointing

I read this book after reading her entire series, and found it lacking in many ways. The author is excellent and it is well written, but if you are expecting a 'nice read' and your favorite characters you will not find them here. There is a very gritty look at...
I read this book after reading her entire series, and found it lacking in many ways. The author is excellent and it is well written, but if you are expecting a 'nice read' and your favorite characters you will not find them here. There is a very gritty look at the side of London most people chose to ignore, racially segregated and gang oriented, but there is some hope with good characters developed. Overall, it is not a book I would read again nor really recommend to prior fans of George's work.

posted by Anonymous on July 17, 2008

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  • Posted July 25, 2009

    Best Book I've Read in a Long Time

    This is a very well-constructed novel. The suspense is generated
    with the title: you don't know who "he" is nor do you know "her". All characters are well-developed. The plot is interwoven beautifully. The dialogue takes only a few moments to catch the rhythm: dysfunctional Black family in London with Jamaican ties. Great story. Great read. I don't usually like the so-called detective series. This is in a class by itself. I have been passing it along to all my friends and family.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 28, 2013

    A phenomenal book!

    I am so surprised by the number of negative reviews of this book. I was blown away by this book. To be able to tell this complex story without offending but offering background information as to what might propel someone in a certain trajectory, in this case a negative one is simply a work of sheer genius. This book stayed with me long after i read it. The way elizabeth george was able to get me into the minds and lives of her characters so i could see why they did what they did was an unbelievable feat for any author. This book is a must read.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 23, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    Not perfect, but oh - what a trip!

    Wow. That was my first reaction on finishing this incredible book. <BR/><BR/>Like many other fans of George's Lynley/Havers series, I was shocked when she killed off Thomas Lynley's wife Helen for no apparent reason. This story doesn't provide a reason - indeed, there are several questions left unanswered - but what it does provide is a detailed and searing look into the background of the supposed shooter. And yes, I said "supposed". I'm not going to insert a full spoiler here; I'll just leave you with that tantalizing hint. <BR/><BR/>What this story also provides is proof - as if any were needed - that George can venture into fields other than mysteries and (British) police procedurals and still spin a ripping good yarn. In some respects the story of Joel Campbell is rather typical. He's the product of a broken home, with a mother in the psych ward, a little brother who's not altogether there, and an older sister who is nowhere near as violent as Aileen Wuornos but whose sexual proclivities make Wuornos look like a pansy. <BR/><BR/>The tale starts with the children's grandmother dropping them off at their aunt's flat - she's running away from them and from her responsibilities as their unofficial guardian, and thus begins the tale of their downfall. <BR/><BR/>There are, as I said, some unanswered questions. We see the killing of Helen Lynley from Joel's point of view, but we still don't understand the why. It's implied that there is some kind of connection between Thomas Lynley and the criminal known as the Blade, but George doesn't explain or give any hint as to the nature of that connection and as far as I remember the Blade isn't mentioned in the "prequel" ("With No One as Witness"). <BR/><BR/>Perhaps she'll provide an explanation someday, but this is still a well-written and extremely interesting look into life on the other side.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 19, 2008

    disappointing

    This is my first book I've read by the author - but I should say I only partially read it. The plot was good, but I couldn't get past trying to translate the bad grammer. I finally said "enough" and put the book down. I think the look into the lives of the poor and dysfunctional relationships in famlies shows the starkness of society and had a worthy plot and I'm not turning a blind eye to the situation - I just couldn't get through the book. Maybe I'll try at a later time.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 17, 2008

    Different, well written but overall disappointing

    I read this book after reading her entire series, and found it lacking in many ways. The author is excellent and it is well written, but if you are expecting a 'nice read' and your favorite characters you will not find them here. There is a very gritty look at the side of London most people chose to ignore, racially segregated and gang oriented, but there is some hope with good characters developed. Overall, it is not a book I would read again nor really recommend to prior fans of George's work.

    1 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 4, 2008

    I could not put this book down!

    I had previously read some of Elizabeth George's previous books and had gotten a little bored with them. I read in a review of her current book that the wife was murdered and saw this book in the discount pile at B&N and figured it was worth a try. I hate when people write in dialect but the story just pulled me in. Joel just kept spiraling down and down and it broke your heart that children need to do so much on their own. In a perfect world no one wants to read such depressing writing for entertainment but these characters were so real and George brought their thought processes to life. Everyone needs to see how the other half lives and thank your lucky stars that your children live safer lives than this. But, her ending paragraph was too vague for me. Since Joel didn't pull the trigger I wanted him and his family to be saved. Somehow. A happy ending.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 17, 2008

    Disappointing and Hollow

    I've read most of Elizabeth George's procedurals, and while they may be long, angst-ridden and wordy, they usually deliver well-crafted and genuine characters and decent plots. Not this one. It's a long rambling, shallow exploration of what it means to be poor and different. Totally not a mystery, and also to me, extremely bogus. I've been poor and different, and this ain't it.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 24, 2007

    Great story of a dysfunctional family with many surprises

    When I started this book I was afraid it was going to be a boring English story filled with lots of dull parts like many English books seem to be. Was I wrong? You bet I was! What Came Before He Shot Her is a very long book but Elizabeth George keeps the reader very interested from page one through to the end. The story follows a dysfunctional family through a part of their lives mainly taking place in the London area. It takes you through good and bad people and neighborhoods. It starts when Joel Campbell is eleven years old. Joel, his little mentally challenged brother, Toby who was seven, and a sister, Ness, a physically well-developed teenager, were literally ¿dropped off¿ at their Aunt Kendra¿s house. They had been living with their grandmother but grandma decided she wanted no part of raising these kids. She wanted to go to Jamaica to live with her boyfriend. The children¿s actual mother was in a home for psychiatric care. She had her sensible moments but they disappeared fast. The grandmother had no qualms leaving the three children on the doorstep of their aunt and taking off with a promise she knew she would never keep: of having the children join her and the boyfriend in Jamaica at some future time. The story follows the children when they are found by their aunt around and near her house as she tries to assimilate what has occurred. Eventually she knows she wants to try to take care of them but she has no experience for doing so and no idea how to start. She registers them in various schools according to their ages, with Toby going to a special school. Joel has to take charge of Toby coming and going to school on his way to his own school. Ness goes to school when she wishes to go. Ness and Joel get into bad company and get into more trouble than a rabbit being chased by a fox while Toby sometimes gets picked up by Joel and sometimes he does not know what to do to get home. The antics that unsupervised children of these ages can get into present too much opportunity to Ness and Joel. Ness is very over-sexed and does all she can to show this to all the others in the area, many times going too far! Joel¿s troubles compound and multiply many times over as he meets some boys that are not a good influence for any human. The troubles the children get into, followed by the created chaos that Aunt Kendra falls into when she finds a younger boyfriend, become a part of the puzzle. She and the boyfriend do not set any type of good example for the kids and they only get worse, if that could be possible. The story might sound very involved but it is easy to follow the way the author writes. She blends various London areas and is sure the reader knows what type of a neighborhood the story line is in as she goes forward. The police, foster childcare, magistrates, and several gangs come into play, all of which make this book delightful, and certainly not dull. Several surprises take place throughout the book making the reader wrong in any assumptions.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 9, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    a reviewer

    In London preadolescent Joel Campbell feels the weight of the world upon him as he resides in his Aunt Kendra¿s dump with his older sister Ness and his crazy younger brother Toby. His dad is dead from a bad drug deal and his mom is locked away in a psycho ward. Ness is more hooligan than sibling as she suffered sexual assault from male relatives that has turned her into a sex abuser and drug loser. His Aunt assumes a roof is enough. Thus Joel watches over Toby, who looks like he will be taken away into the foster system.------------- His efforts to save his siblings always fail and lead to tragic consequences. Saving Toby from punks almost led to the youngster¿s death in an inferno his helping Ness with her nasty boyfriend led to her gang rape and subsequent knifing of those who harm her. Now he arranges with local drug dealer Blade to protect his siblings, which leads the eleven years old adult-child to Belgravia where he holds a gun waiting for Helen Lynley, wife of a Police Inspector. As always Joel¿s efforts turn tragic and now he is the focus of a seemingly senseless homicide as she is gunned down on her doorstep, but is it really random?------------------- Although readers might feel there is too much Dickensian pathos in this tale, WHAT CAME BEFORE HE SHOT HER is a powerful condemnation of western society¿s inability or perhaps just not giving a darn about the plight of the disenfranchised poor, especially the young once they are born. The aunt and her three dumpees are fully developed protagonists whose troubles grip readers from the start especially the seemingly Shakespearean like doomed tragic Joel. Showing a different perspective from WITH NO ONE AS WITNESS (both are stand alones, but complement one another) in which Helen was murdered, Elizabeth George is at her best with this powerful chilling censuring of Blair¿s England.----------- Harriet Klausner

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 21, 2014

    It's pretty bad

    Using poor grammar to emphasize on the lack of education and social differences of the characters is not only derogatory and racist, but it also takes away from the reading experience.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 11, 2014

    Wow! Not what I expected, but an excellent read!

    Delving into the background of a young Keller we do not know what we will find. George has done a marvelous job of creating evil from innocence.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 7, 2014

    Not her best

    A Lynley mystery without Lynley or Havers! Not very compelling reading. Having read the prequel I was tempted to simply read the last chapter and find out what happens to Joel. All the twists and turns of the story developing the downward spiral of a dysfunctional family did not make for attention grabbing reading. Sorry I bought it.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 17, 2012

    Very powerful and well written

    The story pulled me in, very tragic characters and deep plot. I wasnt aware this was part of a series. I will definitely check out the rest.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 30, 2012

    Insightful

    This is not a mystery, but rather crime explained. I found parallels to how young, poor kids fall into gang groove. It is written from a child's perspective, so innocently fallen into the bad side.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 5, 2012

    Not too good.

    Did not like it. It was very depressing. I finally stopped reading since I know who did what from the previous book.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 24, 2012

    Not Not my favorite

    Elizabeth Geoerge is an engaging writer and her Inspector Linley is usually a page-turner. I have been known to stay up until finishing one book and immediately ordering the next for my nook. That being said, I did not enjoy What Came Before He Shot Her. This was not because of the story line, but in order to enjoy a book you need to have a connection to the characters, and in this book there was nothing redeeming about any of them. A total downer as was a previous title of the same ilk. I was very happy to move on in the saga to the next adventure.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 12, 2012

    Definitely worth reading!

    I was hesitant to begin this book,in part because of the mixed reviews it had received, and also because of the absence of Lynley et al. But George's characters, especially Joel, are so well-drawn that they keep you reading. In this novel, young Joel Campbell's childhood innocence is cruelly worn away by a relentless series of family tragedies. His efforts to protect his fragile brother Toby are both noble and heartbreaking as he naively bets his own life on a deal with the devil. There is so much tension between Joel's innate goodness and the evil around him that eventually you stop waiting for Lynley to appear. I would definitely recommend it.

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  • Posted November 11, 2009

    Gripping and heart-wrenching, and in a huge way, an all too meaningful account of reality. The strata of a global society struggling at this level of existance remains an uncurably hopeless cancer growing in front of our eyes.

    Especially for fans of the Linley series, this sequel is a double, below-the-belt whammy. This is a mind-boggling story but not for anyone suffering from depression. No happy endings and absolutely nothing redemptive to cling to.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 20, 2009

    Could not fathom how the writer came up with the story. She must have done extensive research.

    Good writing and sad and touching plot. However, this work is incongruent with the Inspector Lynley series of work that the author is known for. The followers of the series will most likely be unappreciative of this work.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 24, 2009

    Wasn't My Usual Read

    I really couldn't get into this book. This book was depressing, to say the least and I felt very predictable. The middle child was endearing; he tried to help keep peace in the family and he took care of the younger brother. I guess it was perhaps the subject matter that I wasn't keen on. You just knew what was going to happen because this family was too dysfunctional for it to have ended any other way.

    This doesn't dissuade me from reading Elizabeth George in the future. As I mentioned in my headline, this wasn't my usual read, so I just know in the future not to pick this kind of book.

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