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With No One as Witness (Inspector Lynley Series #13)

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Most Helpful Favorable Review

4 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

What can George do with her characters now?

The latest in Elizabeth George's Thomas Lynley novels, "With No One As Witness", delivers a shocker about 3/5 of the way through the book. It's an event that, quite frankly, you will never anticipate, and it's completely unnecessary to the plot, unless Ms George got tir...
The latest in Elizabeth George's Thomas Lynley novels, "With No One As Witness", delivers a shocker about 3/5 of the way through the book. It's an event that, quite frankly, you will never anticipate, and it's completely unnecessary to the plot, unless Ms George got tired of the way Lynley's life was going and wanted to be able to move him off in another direction. We'll have to see what happens in her next book - if indeed there is a next book.

That being said, and that plot twist aside, this is an excellent addition to one of the best British police procedurals being written today. Lynley and his two primary assistants, Barbara Havers and Winston Nkata, have never been more human, more alive - especially considering the subject of this latest entry in the series. George writes her story with great tact, and most of what she says on the subject is implied. Of necessity there are some scenes that may turn your stomach, but these are kept to a minimum and George does not draw out her descriptions of these scenes.

Considering the hue and cry that emerged when this book came out, I will anxiously be awaiting news of the next book in this series - although as I said before, I wonder.....

posted by nprfan1 on November 23, 2008

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Most Helpful Critical Review

1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

Depressing and tired

Writing a successful mystery series novel demands a rare blend of creativity and artistic steadfastness. It¿s possible to be an excellent writer and yet not be able to consistently deliver a fresh and compelling yet familiar universe. Sue Grafton, Dorothy Sayers and P...
Writing a successful mystery series novel demands a rare blend of creativity and artistic steadfastness. It¿s possible to be an excellent writer and yet not be able to consistently deliver a fresh and compelling yet familiar universe. Sue Grafton, Dorothy Sayers and PD James have that ability. Elizabeth George, sadly, does not. George¿s first seven novels in the Inspector Lynley series were a dazzling marriage of clever whodunits, lyrical descriptions of atmosphere, and rich psychological portraits of characters that readers came to love passionately. But as the series has gone on, George¿s books became longer, more elaborate, and more of a literary experiment than a good mystery story. After reading A Traitor to Memory, where much of the book is eaten up by a complicated and barely relevant subplot told from the viewpoint of a male violinist, I began to wonder whether she had the stamina to sustain a long-running series. After reading With No One As Witness, I¿ve concluded that she¿s not. Unlike PD James, she seems unable to steer her characters through a long lifetime. She has not devised a plot evolution that would blast Simon and Deborah out of the rut of their failed pregnancies and as a result their story has become boring over the last three novels. She has fallen into the trap of creating the same characters over and over again: in Witness, her description of the budding relationship between Winston and Yasmin is so similar to the description of Tommy and Helen¿s courtship that it provokes a groan of ¿oh, no, not again!¿ Writing a series requires some steadfastness of artistic vision ¿ if your series is a mystery, you must be able to continue writing in that genre and resist the temptation to morph it into science fiction or hard-core thriller. PD James has understood that boring but powerful rule George has not. In Witness, she goes for a new genre, part mystery and part thriller, and ends up with a confusing hybrid that doesn¿t satisfy on any count. In other recent books, George has experimented, unhappily, with stream of consciousness or with eccentric points of view. These efforts reek of an author bored with her creation, and leave her loyal readers wondering when, if ever, they¿ll see another ¿classic¿ George mystery. And readers are losing patience: each book sells less well than the previous one, and Witness¿s sojourn on the bestseller lists was uncommonly short for a book so long awaited. The series novelist must have the ability to live with her characters for a long time. Agatha Christie put up with Hercule Poirot for¿.40 years? PD James is still going strong with Adam Dalgleish after nearly 30. Yet barely 15 years after introducing Helen Clyde, Ms. George kills her off, and in a manner so implausible that it caused ¿ in me, at least ¿ just about the worst reaction a writer can engender in a reader: instead of wholeheartedly entering the world of the story, I pulled back and found myself wondering what on earth is wrong with Elizabeth George. Many critics of Witness have -- rightly I think -- characterized the series as ¿tired.¿ The book feels as if Elizabeth George is tired of the series, tired of her characters, tired of the constraints of being a mystery writer. Tired, even, of the tedium of good workmanship. Witness includes a number of egregious factual errors about her characters that are surprising to long-time series followers. Surely she has achieved a level of financial success that would enable her to hire a fact checking assistant, or perhaps even re-read her manuscripts herself? Boredom, fatigue, creative well run dry -- whatever the reason, Ms. George should take a looooong vacation before pushing out another book in the Lynley series.

posted by Anonymous on July 20, 2005

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  • Posted April 22, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    Love this series!

    I have to admit, I was looking for this book in the library a few years ago, but actually found the book following this one "What Came Before He Shot Her" and realised what the shocker in the book "With No One As Witness" turned out to be. I was so upset and devastated by this development, that I could not read the book until just recently. Knowing what would happen, I still appreciated the book for the complex and detailed descriptions of London and the characters. Definitely cried at the end and I am now determined to catch up with the series. Not everyone will be as devastated as me, so I encourage you to read, read, read this book and be awed by the literary genius of Elizabeth George.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 3, 2011

    A fabulous writer. One of my top five authors.

    Elizabeth George is one of my favorite authors. I am never disappointed. Actually, I have become addicted to Inspector Lynley and the ensemble of characters and can't wait to read and finish. I cried when Helen died. I am building my E. George library...a series I will probably read again.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 16, 2006

    IF you see the book in bookstore, buy that book! THAT'S WONDERFUL

    The book is impressive. When i open the book, i never closed the book until the ending. It kept my eyes open wide all night. You should enjoy that book because elizabeth really can capture your attention and she can write really GOOD!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 2, 2006

    Agian, Another Great Book

    Once again George comes up with a masterpiece. This is the third book in a row I have read of hers and she continues to amaze me. I cannot wait to read what she comes up with to continue on with the story.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 30, 2012

    I didn't want Helen to die

    Such a loveable character, especially her uncomfortable shoes. Her life so separate from the poor, so distant from the drug infested neighborhoods. I found stories built in her world intriguing. This story and the next are in the struggling world. One reads mystery [at least I do] to pass time, to disconnect from the here and now. Yet this book will not let you do that. I'd say this is a dark story, the follow on darker. But very well put together.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 29, 2012

    Excellent book. I plan on reading the rest of the series

    Excellent book. I plan on reading the rest of the series

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 19, 2007

    A writer with style

    I have appreciated this author for years. Along with PD James and very few others, she is at the top of her game in this one. Not only does she have a writing style that's almost poetry but she has reached the top of the mystery genre with a unique talent. This is one of her best yet.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 3, 2006

    Knockout

    This book is another winner from Elizabeth George. Despite a shocking twist that may leave some readers reeling, George proves once again that she is a master of the British mystery.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 22, 2005

    Wonderful reading!

    I'm among the readers who anxiously await a new work from any of their favorite authors -- 'With No One As Witness' was worth the wait! It is certainly one of the best books I have read in a long while. Wonderful plotting, dialogue, and character development. A hefty, satisfying read with an unsuspected finale. The book I am reading now pales in comparision. I recommend reading the earlier books in this series (in order, if possible) to fully appreciate this title, but it could stand alone. Fabulous!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 13, 2005

    Another great book by Elizabeth George

    Although I have been an Elizabeth George fan for years, I hesitated to buy this book because of the negative reviews. I bought it anyway and I am so glad that I did. I found myself feeling as if I knew the main characters even better by the end of this novel. It was well written, as is typical of Ms. George and although it was a bit traumatic at the end so is life! Life doesn't always work out the way we want it too and it would be very 'Hollywoodish' if Ms. George wrote that way. She is a much better author than that. Keep it coming Ms. George.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 15, 2005

    Brilliant!

    I absolutely loved this book. Like some others who have written here, I discovered Elizabeth George and made it my business to find all of the other books in the Lynley series. I also greatly enjoyed the first few books, but was somewhat disenchanted with later novels. This novel however, totally redeemed her in my eyes. These books are about the life a detective in a large and dangerous city. What is the point of continuing to off minor characters? What does that really do? I think what Ms. George did was brilliant in that it brought what was becoming a tired series roaring back to life. I enjoyed the relationship between Helen and Lynley. I will now enjoy seeing where he goes from here. Bravo, Ms. George.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 22, 2005

    One of Her Best

    The naysayers have it wrong. I have read all of Elizabeth George's books, and 'With No One as Witness' is easily one of her two best. But for one small plot quibble, I would rank it on the level of 'In the Presence of the Enemy.' (The quibble is that one of the killers in this book, like the killer in 'In the Presence of the Enemy,' is from the police ranks; I don't think a mystery writer should resort to that ploy more than once.) Her latest novel is fast-paced and gripping and contains just the right amount of character study (with both the recurring and the new characters). What the book lacks for the most part is what others evidently miss from some of George's lesser efforts: ponderous psychological analysis and overly whimsical dialogue among the Lynleys and the St. Jameses. While I would have preferred that the author had offed Deborah (who is a tad more annoying than Helen), Helen's departure can only make things more interesting in this series, particularly if George opts to bring back Lynley at some point. I say, 'Congratulations,' to Ms. George for taking a risk and shattering her readers' expectations. If, anything, I'm more inclined than before to continue to read her books.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 5, 2005

    Beyond The Modern Crime Thriller

    This is my first George and I was impressed like never before. In the first hundred pages or so it was just the average thriller. But then, when the tragedy happened, it became more than the average thriller. The ending was red hot and the emotional compassity of Tommy was well played. Elizabeth George is without a doubt an incredible writer and should not go overlooked in todays book market.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 23, 2005

    This One Blew Me Away

    I couldn¿t put it down! I lost sleep and missed my subway stop! I read it on the train and did not nod off! 'With No One As Witness' is as gutsy, suspenseful and engrossing as this genre gets! Those who want a routine and formulaic read should select someone less daring than the fabulous Ms. George. Her books are not easily pigeonholed; they are complex, enthralling, witty, intelligent and breathtaking. While this particular outing is also shocking and heart wrenching, it illustrates Ms. George's brilliance in presenting her characters in very human terms; they are dynamic and unpredictable as is the world in which they live. Aside from the heartbreak that occurs, I for one was thrilled with the ending! Ms. George's novels are like elaborate feasts that comprise an array of juicy entrees, tantalizing side dishes and rich deserts, with some exotic offerings and always something new and different thrown in. Bravo!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 23, 2005

    Another winner

    With the writing of this novel Elizabeth George has once again given me hours of enjoyment and entertainment. I so enjoy her style and prose. It is like meeting up with old friends once again to read of the same characters.The plot was interesting and kept me turning pages. The only thing that spoiled it somewhat was the mention in some review of Helen's death. I would rather have found this out in the reading of the novel.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 25, 2005

    Elizabeth George at Her Best!

    This was a wonderful return to the earliest Lynley-Havers mysteries, with complex plots and great character development. The ending (which will not be much of a surprise if you've read the complaints of other reviewers who felt compelled to spill the beans--ahem!) sets up future interesting twists and turns in the lives of these characters. I'm looking forward to the next installment.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 24, 2005

    Another great Elizabeth George mystery

    Although a shocking twist leaves us mourning Helen and the baby, the book is riveting from the very beginning. The characters as usual are well drawn and intriguing. It is always a pleasure to reunite with Barbara and Thomas Lynley and others. This book is just another example of my favorite author's craft. I am always disappointed when I finish the latest as that means it will be years before I can drop back into the maze of New Scotland Yard and all that is going on with such interesting characters.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 19, 2005

    This is one of her best!

    I couldn't put this one down. Don't be put off by the shocking one-star reviews. I'm stunned that some readers have such ferociously negative feelings about E. George and this book. Having read it the week it was published, I didn't know about the major plot development that too many people seem to feel necessary to disclose. The book is full of her usual great characters and descriptions, and I was riveted by all facets of the plot. It's fiction. I'm fascinated to see how Lynley and other characters develop as a result of the events of this book.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 25, 2005

    Will there be more?

    Those looking for diverting British whodunits had best look elsewhere - Ms. George requires her readers to pay attention - with head AND heart. This is one of her best in the uniformly excellent Lynley and Havers series, and one must read the previous books or be condemned to confusion over the relationships between the recurring characters. George's forte IS peering into the blackest depths of the human psyche - the selfish, petty, cruel and evil motivations of the players in this story lead to actions with consequences that vary widely from amusing and harmless to utterly devastating. Even with access through his eyes to the thoughts and actions of the killer, the reader becomes as frustrated as the police in trying to identify him. The tightly restrained anger of Lynley and the barely concealed rage of Havers at the sheer stupidity and perfidy of some of those they encounter, both together and alone, are palpable, especially in their dealings with the heirarchy of the Met. The tension builds nicely, and the wealth of detail adds to the immediacy. Her regulars in the series are revealed even further, especially Nkata, who really gets a chance to shine as he discovers truths about the murders, his colleagues and himself. Havers is marvellous, a rebel in the truest sense, though her belated realization of the effect her blody-mindedness has on those for whom she cares most deeply comes too late to prevent any damage. Her nobility shines forth at the end, as does that of Lynley, who is nothing less than heroic in his attempts to reconcile his self-doubt with his obligation to protect those he loves with relentless loyalty. The personal tragedy that occurs, which has been revealed by some selfish reviewers (thankfully, I pre-ordered the book and so read no reviews until I finished it), is handled rather dispassionately, which makes it heartbreaking without descending into maudlin sentimentality. This part of the story could not be more timely. The ending, emotionally satisfying as it was, leaves one in a slight state of panic, wondering, 'Was this the FINAL Lynley/Havers novel? I fervently hope not - I was just getting to know them...

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 4, 2005

    George at Her Best

    A fan of Elizabeth George since first discovering the Thomas Lynley series, I suspect her latest With No One as Witness may be her best yet. The plot, based on the serial killing of pre-adolescent boys, is less convoluted than George¿s usual multi-layered, character-dominated novels. She remains focused on the case, but, as is her wont, gives psychological depth to both the main and the secondary figures. However, George being the writer she is, plot layers persist, taking readers off into byways and sideroads, keeping them eagerly turning pages. The novel reached deeper into the emotional core than mysteries are supposed to and at the book¿s end, I was deeply moved, feeling a sadness that was with me for days. The shocking ending is sure to upset some fans, whereas others will be pleased at George¿s apparent decision to realign her main characters. It seems she¿s gone about as far as she can go with the aristocratic sleuths and plans to bring the working-class detectives to the forefront. Lynley¿s friends, Simon and Deborah, for instance, have minor roles, whereas Winston Kikata, who is black, plays a larger part, being used by Lynley¿s antagonistic temporary boss, Hillier, to ward off charges of racial bias. And Barbara Havers, whose life has been so troubled and difficult in contrast to her partner Lynley¿s cushy one, seems to be finally coming into her own. A wonderful, absorbing read. Have your Kleenex handy.

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