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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 November 23, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    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 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. <BR/><BR/>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. <BR/><BR/>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.....

    4 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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

    Posted June 13, 2008

    Loved It - Despite the Demise of One of My Favorite Characters

    I'm a real fan of George's and I loved this book, although I hated the loss of Helen, one of my favorite fictional characters. I felt the loss so deeply, and that is because the author did her job so well. She hits the emotional triggers in a very real way. I felt as grief-stricken as Lynley. My questions for the author: why get rid of this popular character, and did she plan for this several books ago?

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 24, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Engaging

    Book 13, in the Inspector Lynley series

    I am happy to see with this instalment my beloved protagonists Thomas Lynley and his partner Barbara Havers back to the forefront and plunged into a suspenseful case complete with red herrings and gritty crime scenes. The book provides an intellectual challenge, its 600 pages or more is a kaleidoscope of complicated themes and sub-themes crisscrossed with a rich narrative that keeps us on the edge of our seat while tracking the numerous players that pop in an out of the storyline.

    In this novel we follow the procedures that Scotland Yard Detectives employ on the trail of a serial killer who targets young boys in London and displays their bodies in a gruesome manner. Commissioner Hillier realises he has a serial killer when a fourth victim, a white teen, surfaces with similar wounds to three other non- white victims, he also realises he has to stay ahead of media hype and diffuse any accusations of racial preference by promoting officer Nkate ( a black man) to Detective Sergeant. The commissioner wants full control, puppets on a string style, Nkate handling the general public side and he is pressuring Lynley to work closely with a respected profiler and a in your face reporter. Thomas Lynley is at odds with these orders and the friction between them quickly builds. Where there is friction Barbara Havers' name always surfaces. She is still under scrutiny since her demotion but once more her style of working against the grain will bring success to the case.

    Meanwhile on another thread, on Lynley's home front a tragedy awaits that will alter his life for ever...

    Although overall the storyline moves at a slow pace I was immediately engaged in this drama that is far darker, more sombre and definitely more tragic than any of the previous endeavours in Lynley's career. I can't wait to see what happens next, my library is a little behind in this series.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 4, 2007

    George is back in form.

    I have read all of Ms. George's books and thoroughly enjoyed all of them except the one previous to 'With No One as Witness'. I know that many of her long time readers are upset with the dark tone, explicit detail, and tragic ending of this novel, but I thought it was all brilliantly executed and, thankfully, a true expression of the real world. Her novels are intricit puzzles interlaced with an accurate sensitivity and understanding of the real landscape of our society: the grinding poverty and alienation of many immigrants, the frustrations and at times near uselessness of many social welfare programs, and the carefully cultivated limited vision of the people who live in the 'good neighborhoods'. By the way, I hated McEwan's 'Atonement' - way too mannered and repetitive, but in novella form it might have worked. Absolutely no real story except at the beginning, a small middle section 'the war' and at the end.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 13, 2006

    If you love the Lynley series please read

    I have read all of the Lynley Mysteries. Although the reviews for this book are not as good as the others this is still a must read if you love the storyline. I appreciated the development of new characters giving the series a refreshing breeze. I look forward to more!

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 19, 2006

    Couldn't stop reading

    Please!!!!! I don't care if some facts are slightly off, the fact remains that Elizabeth Georges is the best author I've read so far. Such great character development. We tend to be overly critical with each new book, but if this were an unknown author's first book, this book would definately be acclaimed by all. It's her decision to eliminate a character we're very attached to. She's got something up her sleeve, let's wait and see. Surely not Lynley and Havers, but who knows what to expect. I'm really looking forward to reading her next book.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 24, 2013

    Highly recommended - could not put it down!

    An edge of your seat tale, quite horrifying in subject matter and totally gripping. Such anguish for everyone.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 10, 2006

    Contrived ending?

    I thoroughly enjoyed the character development and plot line of this story, as I do all of Elizabeth George's books, but I thought the ending was contrived to tarnish the 'silver spoon' image of one of the main characters. I have never read of any member of an investigation team being targeted by a killer, not to say it couldn't happen, but I just felt it was an artificial ending done for the sake of the event itself, not to move the plot of the story along.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 7, 2005

    Longtime George Fan

    Let me first start out by saying this: In my opinion, this was not one of George's best books, however.....and this is a big however, to say the book is bad because of the tragedy that occurs is just naive. George is not a 'tea cozy' novelist, she is a 'hard boiled' mystery novelist and tragedies happen in real life. If you want to read mysteries with happy endings, go find a cat cozy! That said, I am deeply saddened and will miss this character but I also commend Ms. George for her imagination and versatility.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 6, 2005

    Where Does She Go From Here?

    If you want witty dialogue and amusing characters, then read Martha Grimes, who is wonderful in her own right. Don't look for that in Elizabeth George. I think that this novel is the best in this series in some time. My worry is that Thomas Lynley will not return to New Scotland Yard. I don't want to tell my friends anything about this book, because I don't want them to know what happens. I do, however, strongly recommend that they read it. The characterization and plot are as strong as ever. Elizabeth George is excellent.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 14, 2005

    With No One As Witness

    'With No One as Witness', goes back to the early days of Elizabeth George that brought me to this series. I always found Helen to be a distraction and I look forward to reading the next Lynley installment.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 14, 2005

    With No One As Witness

    This is one of the best, a return to orginal form. I always felt, from the very beginning, that the character of Helen was a distraction - the continual depression. I have great anticipation for the next Havers and Lynley case.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 20, 2005

    With No One As Witness

    I am very disappointed at the climax of this book. I have been reading this series since its inception; I cannot believe the tragedy that ensues even tho I know that this is 'real life'. I waited with baited breath for this novel only to feel betrayed. No wonder no one can post on her web site to discuss anything. She doesn't obviously understand her readers and thier love of her characters. The reason I read novels is to escape! I feel like I have lost a member of my family!!!! If I wanted to read true crime I could read Ann Rule. I am very disappointed in what occurs. What can Ms. George be thinking of for the next book???

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 23, 2005

    A HIGHLY POLISHED READING

    London born Tony nominee and Emmy Award winner Charles Keating gives a polished reading of Elizabeth George's latest spellbinder. An accomplished stage and television actor, Keating is well remembered for his performances with the Royal Shakespeare Company, and on television in Brideshead Revisited and Another World. This compelling police procedural calls for an actor with brisk articulation and the ability to sustain mounting suspense - Keating fulfills this role in spades. In this, her thirteenth novel, George returns Detective Inspector Thomas Lynley and his erstwhile partner Barbara Havers. In addition to murder, the author also raises some profound and troubling issues which the characters must confront. Thus, we not only have vintage Elizabeth George but a writer at the top of her game. Four adolescent boys have been murdered. Three of them were of mixed parentage, and the third is white. His body is found atop a tomb, obviously a ritualistic killing. Somehow the slaying of four youth are connected, but how? Rumors abound that New Scotland Yard has racist tendencies due to its apparent inability to solve the first three murders. Thus, the case is given to Lynley and his cohorts, all of whom are dealing with personal troubles. As always, this author excels in character depictions, and painting background scenes whether seedy or exclusive. All know that a psychopath is on the loose, but finding him is quite another matter as both Lynley and Havers are distracted by issues of their own and turmoil among the police. As is her wont, George doesn't miss a beat in pacing a story that throbs with excitement, suspense and a spectacular denouement. A superb listen. - Gail Cooke

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 21, 2005

    With No One As Witness

    One last thing: I have been reading this series sine the late '80's; please know that with this book I will NOT ever agin read Ms. George. I am so very angry at how she decided to change the tenor of the series. Is she in touch with us her readers? I wanted to email her directly but her web mail isn't accessible. Is that surprising, given the ending of this book? I feel betrayed!!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 29, 2005

    This is why I keep reading this author's books...

    I have been a long time fan of Elizabeth George and the Lynley/Havers mysteries. I could not wait to read this new one, even though many of the reviewers felt compelled to reveal every plot twist and detail after they had read this book. While it is upsetting when an author chooses to drastically change an ongoing storyline, sometimes they are part of continuing a series. And for everyone who thinks that this book might be the last Lynley mystery (or hopes it will be), read the interview with Elizabeth George at ElizabethGeorgeOnline.com, where she answers many of the questions that people have raised in their reviews. Those of us that read Elizabeth's books may not agree with all of her decisions for this latest book, but I know I will be waiting for the next one.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 25, 2005

    Disappointed

    I agree with reviews already posted. I have loved this series, could not wait to get this book and was shocked at the ending. I also tried to e-mail her, no joy there! Apparently she has finished with Inspector Lynley.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 26, 2005

    An extremely disappointing ending.

    I could not believe that Elizabeth George would discount the feelings of her readers. I have all her books in hardback and love the series and characters. But I felt betrayed by the loss of Helen. The series is ruined and I will not buy her books again. They were like family, but Elizabeth had no regard for the series or her readers. She is obviously tired of her characters and what is she going to do now?

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 2, 2012

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted June 26, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

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