A Great Deliverance (Inspector Lynley Series #1)

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Overview

To this day, the low, thin wail of an infant can be heard in Keldale's lush green valleys. Three hundred years ago, as legend goes, the frightened Yorkshire villagers smothered a crying babe in Keldale Abbey, where they'd hidden to escape the ravages of Cromwell's raiders.

Now into Keldale's pastoral web of old houses and older secrets comes Scotland Yard Inspector Thomas Lynley, the eighth earl of Asherton. Along with the redoubtable ...
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A Great Deliverance (Inspector Lynley Series #1)

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Overview

To this day, the low, thin wail of an infant can be heard in Keldale's lush green valleys. Three hundred years ago, as legend goes, the frightened Yorkshire villagers smothered a crying babe in Keldale Abbey, where they'd hidden to escape the ravages of Cromwell's raiders.

Now into Keldale's pastoral web of old houses and older secrets comes Scotland Yard Inspector Thomas Lynley, the eighth earl of Asherton. Along with the redoubtable Detective Sergeant Barbara Havers, Lynley has been sent to solve a savage murder that has stunned the peaceful countryside. For fat, unlovely Roberta Teys has been found in her best dress, an axe in her lap, seated in the old stone barn beside her father's headless corpse. Her first and last words were "I did it. And I'm not sorry."

Yet as Lynley and Havers wind their way through Keldale's dark labyrinth of secret scandals and appalling crimes, they uncover a shattering series of revelations that will reverberate through this tranquil English valley—and in their own lives as well.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Spellbinding...a truly fascinating story that is part psychological suspense and part detective story."—Chicago Sun-Times"Pure entertainment from its insidious beginning to its gripping end."—The Washington Post Book World"Exceptionally assured and impressive...highly entertaining."—Newsweek"Awesome...immediately thrusts the author into P.D. James' dark orbit."—Kirkus Reviews

From the Paperback edition.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780553052442
  • Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 5/1/1988
  • Series: Inspector Lynley Series , #1
  • Pages: 305

Meet the Author

Elizabeth George
Elizabeth George’s first novel, A Great Deliverance, was honored with the Anthony and Agatha Best First Novel Awards and received the Grand Prix de Littérature Policière. Her third novel, Well-Schooled in Murder, was awarded the prestigious German prize for suspense fiction, the MIMI. A Suitable Vengeance, For the Sake of Elena, Missing Joseph, Playing for the Ashes, In the Presence of the Enemy, Deception on His Mind, In Pursuit of the Proper Sinner, A Traitor to Memory, and I, Richard were international bestsellers. Elizabeth George divides her time between Huntington Beach, California, and London. Her novels are currently being dramatized by the BBC.

Biography

Elizabeth George was happy that her first novel was rejected.

Scratch that. She's happy now. At the time, it wasn't her best day. But the notes from her editor helped her realize that she had written the wrong book and chosen the wrong leading man. She threw out her Agatha-Christie/drawing-room-whodunit model in favor of a more modern police procedural set in the world of Scotland Yard. She promoted a minor character to her leading man, the handsome, aristocratic, Bentley-driving Thomas Lynley. And she invented a partner for him, the blue-collar, foul-mouthed, messy Barbara Havers.

"I was very lucky when the first one was rejected, because the editor explained to me why," George told the Los Angeles Times in 1999. "I had written a very Agatha Christie-esque book and she said that wasn't the way it was done. The modern crime novel doesn't have the detective call everyone into the library. It must deal with more topical crimes and the motives must be more psychological because the things you kill for are different now. Things like getting rid of a spouse who won't divorce you, or hiding an illegitimate child, or blackmail over a family scandal -- those are no longer realistic motivations."

And so, in A Great Deliverance, her first published novel, she opens with the decapitated body of a farmer, his blood-splattered daughter holding an ax, the horrified clergyman who happens on to the crime scene, and a rat feasting on the remains. Nope, not in Agatha Christie territory anymore.

George began writing as child when her mother gave her an old 1939 typewriter. When she graduated from high school, she graduated to an electric typewriter. But not until she graduated to a home computer (purchased by her husband in the 1983), did she actually try her hand at a novel. At the time, she was a schoolteacher and had been since 1974. But with the computer in front of her, she has said, it was put-up-or-shut-up time. She finished her first manuscript in 1983. But her first book wasn't published for five more years.

Though the Lynley/Havers novels are set in England -- as are the tales in her first book of short stories, 2002's I, Richard -- George is a Yank, born in Ohio and raised in Southern California. Maintaining a flat in London's South Kensington as a home base for research, George has been an Anglophile since a trip as a teenager to the United Kingdom, where she ultimately found that a British setting better served the fiction that she wanted to write. "The English tradition offers the great tapestry novel," she told Publishers Weekly in 1996, "where you have the emotional aspect of a detective's personal life, the circumstances of the crime and, most important, the atmosphere of the English countryside that functions as another character."

Readers have made her books standard features on the bestseller lists, and critics have noted the psychologically deft motives of her characters and her detailed, well-researched plotting. "A behemoth, staggering in depth and breadth, A Traitor to Memory leaves you simultaneously satisfied and longing for more. It's simply a supreme pleasure to spend time engrossed in this intense, well-written novel," the Miami Herald said in 2001. The Washington Post called 1990's Well-Schooled in Murder " a bewitching book, exasperatingly clever, and with a complex plot that must be peeled layer by layer like an onion." The Los Angeles Times once called her "the California author who does Britain as well as P.D. James." And in 1996, Entertainment Weekly placed George's eighth novel, In the Presence of the Enemy in their fiction top ten list of the year, where she kept company with John Updike, Frank McCourt, Stephen King, and Jon Krakauer.

In her mind, each book begins with the killer, the victim and the motive. She travels to London and stays at her flat there to research locales. And she writes long profiles about what drives her characters psychologically. The kick for the reader isn't necessarily whodunit but why they dun it.

"I don't mind if they know who the killer is," she has said. "I'm happy to surprise them with the psychology behind the crime. I'm interested in the dark side of man. I'm interested in taboos, and murder is the greatest taboo. Characters are fascinating in their extremity not in their happiness."

Good To Know

The original model for Lynley was Nigel Havers, the nobleman and hurdle-jumper in the film Chariots of Fire whose butler placed champagne flutes on the hurdles to keep him from knocking them over. She named Barbara Havers as an homage to the actor.

On page 900 of the rough draft for Deception on His Mind, George changed her mind about the identity of the killer.

George's ex-husband is her business manager.

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    1. Hometown:
      Seattle, Washington
    1. Date of Birth:
      February 26, 1949
    2. Place of Birth:
      Warren, Ohio
    1. Education:
      A.A. Foothill Community College, 1969; B.A. University of California, Riverside, 1970; M.S. California State University
    2. Website:

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

It was a solecism of the very worst kind. He sneezed loudly, wetly, and quite unforgivably into the woman's face. He'd been holding it back for three-quarters of an hour, fighting it off as if it were Henry Tudor's vanguard in the Battle of Bosworth. But at last he'd surrendered. And after the act, to make matters worse, he immediately began to snuffle.

The woman stared. She was exactly the type whose presence always reduced him to blithering idiocy. At least six feet tall, dressed in that wonderfully insouciant mismatch of clothing so characteristic of the British upper classes, she was ageless, timeless, and she peered at him through razor blue eyes, the sort that must have reduced many a parlourmaid to tears forty years ago. She had to be well over sixty, possibly closer to eighty, but one could never tell. She sat bolt upright in her seat, hands clasped in her lap, a finishing-school posture which made no concessions towards comfort.

And she stared. First at his Roman collar, then at his undeniably dripping nose.

Do forgive, darling. A thousand apologies. Let's not allow a little faux pas like a sneeze to come between such a friendship as ours. He was always so amusing when engaged in mental conversations. It was only aloud that everything became a terrible muddle.

He snuffled again. Again she stared. Why on earth was she travelling second class? She'd swept into the carriage in Doncaster, like a creaking Salome with rather more than seven veils to her ensemble, and for the remainder of the trip she'd alternated between imbibing the railway's foul-smelling tepid coffee and staring at him with a disapproval that shouted Churchof England at every available opportunity.

And then came the sneeze. Unimpeachably correct behaviour from Dancaster to London might have somehow excused his Roman Catholicism to her. But alas, the sneeze condemned him forever.

"I ... ah ... that is ... if you'll excuse ..." It was simply no good. His handkerchief was deep within his pocket. To reach it he would have to loosen his grasp on the battered attaché case in his lap, and that was unthinkable. She would just have to understand. We aren't talking about a breach of etiquette here, madam. We are talking about MURDER. Upon that thought, he snuffled with self-righteous vigour.

Hearing this, the woman sat even more correctly in her seat, every fibre of her body straining to project disapproval. Her glance said it all. It was a chronicle of her thoughts, and he could read each one: Pitiful little man. Pathetic. Not a day under seventy-five and looking positively every second of it. And so very much what one would expect of a Catholic priest: a face with three separate nicks from a poor job at shaving; a crumb of morning toast embedded in the corner of his mouth; shiny black suit mended at elbows and cuffs; squashed hat rimmed with dust. And that dreadful case in his lap! Ever since Doncaster he had been acting as if she'd boarded the train with the deliberate intention of snatching it from him and hurling herself out the window. Lord!

The woman sighed and turned away from him as if seeking salvation. But none was apparent. His nose continued to dribble until the slowing of the train announced that they were finally approaching their journey's end.

She stood and scourged him with a final look. "At last I understand what you Catholics mean by purgatory," she hissed and swept down the aisle to the door.

"Oh dear," muttered Father Hart. "Oh dear, I sup-pose I really have…" But she was gone. The train had come to a complete halt under the vaulted ceiling of the London station. It was time to do what he
had come to the city to do.

He looked about to make sure that he was in possession of all his belongings, a pointless operation since he had brought nothing with him from Yorkshire save the single attaché case that had as yet not left his grip. He squinted out the window at the vast expanse of King's Cross Station.

He had been more prepared for a station like Victoria-or at least the Victoria he remembered from his youth-with its comforting old brick walls, its stalls and buskers, these latter always staying one step ahead of the metropolitan police. But King's Cross was something altogether different: long stretches of tiled floor, seductive advertisements hanging from the ceiling, newsagents, tobacconists, hamburger shops. And all the people--many more than he had expected--in queues for tickets, gobbling down hurried snacks as they raced for trains, arguing, laughing, and kissing goodbye. Every race, every colour. It was all so different. He wasn't sure he could bear the noise and confusion.

"Getting out, Father, or planning to stop t' night?"

Startled, Father Hart looked up into the ruddy face of the porter who had helped him find his seat earlier that morning upon the train's departure from York. It was a pleasant, north country face with the winds of the moors etched upon it in a hundred separate blood vessles that rode and broke near the surface of his skin.

His eyes were flinty blue, quick and perceptive. And Father Hart felt them like a touch as they slid in a friendly but querying movement from his face to the attaché case. Tightening his fingers round the handle, he stiffened his body, hoping for resolution and getting an excruciating cramp in his left foot instead. He moaned as the--balled hotly to its zenith.

The porter spoke anxiously. "Maybe you oughtn't be travellin' alone. Sure you don't need no help, like?"

He did, of course he did. But no one could help. He couldn't help himself.

"No, no. I'm off this very moment. And you've been more than kind. My seat, you know. The initial confusion."

The porter waved his words away. "Don't mind that. There's lots of folks don't realise them tickets means reserved. No harm done, was there?"

"No. I suppose…" Father Hart drew in a quick, sustaining breath. Down the aisle, out the door, find the tube, he told himself. None of that could be as insurmountable as it seemed. He shuffled towards the exit. His case, clutched two-handed upon his stomach, bounced with each step.

Behind him, the porter spoke. "'Ere, Father, the door's a bit much. I'll see to 't."

He allowed the man space to get past him in the aisle. Already two surly-looking railway cleaners were squeezing in the rear door, rubbish sacks over their shoulders, ready to prepare the train for its return trip to York. They were Pakistani, and although they spoke English, Father Hart found that he couldn't understand a single word beneath the obfuscation of their accepts.

The realisation filled him with dread. What was he doing here in the nation's capital where the inhabitants were foreigners who looked at him with cloudy, hostile eyes and immigrant faces? What paltry good could he hope to do? What silliness was this? Who would ever believe--

"Need some help, Father?"

Father Hart finally moved decisively. "No. Fine. Simply fine."

He negotiated the steps, felt the concrete platform beneath his feet, heard the calling of pigeons
high in the vaulted ceiling of the station. He began to make his distracted way down the platform towards the exit and Euston Road. -

Behind him again he heard the porter. "Someone meeting you? Know where you're going? Where you off to now?"

The priest straightened his shoulders. He waved a goodbye. "Scotland Yard," he replied firmly.

* * *

St. Pancras Station, directly across the street from King's Cross, was such an architectural antithesis of the latter that Father Hart stood for several moments simply staring at its neo-Gothic magnificence. The clamour of traffic on Euston Road and the malodourous belching of two diesel-fuelled lorries at the pavement's edge faded into insignificance. He was a bit of an architecture buff, and this particular building was architecture gone wild.

"Good heavens, that's wonderful," he murmured, tilting his head to have a better view of the railway station's peaks and valleys. "A bit of a cleaning and she'd be a regular palace." He looked about absently, as if he would stop the next passerby and give a discourse on the evils that generations of coal fires had wrought upon the old building. "Now, I wonder who…"

The two-note siren of a police van howled suddenly down Caledonian Road, shrieking through the intersection onto Euston. It brought the priest back to reality. He shook himself mentally, part in irritation but another, greater part in fear. His mind was wandering daily now. And that signalled the end, didn't it? He swallowed a gagging lump of tenor and sought new determination. His eyes fell upon the scream of a headline across the morning paper propped up on a nearby newsstand. He stepped toward it curiously. RIPPER STRIKES AT VAUXHALL STATION!

Ripper! He shrank from the words, cast a look about, and then gave himself over to one quick paragraph from the story, skimming it rapidly lest a closer perusal betray an interest in morbidity unseemly in a man of the cloth. Words, not sentences, caught his sight. Slashed... semi-nude bodies... arteries… severed... victims male...

He shivered. His fingers went to his throat and he considered its true vulnerability. Even a Roman collar was no certain protection from the knife of a killer. It would seek. It would plunge.

The thought was shattering. He staggered back from the newsstand, and mercifully saw the underground sign a mere thirty feet away. It jogged his memory.

He groped in his pocket for a map of the city's underground system and spent a moment painstakingly perusing its crinkled surface. "The circle line to St. James's Park," he told himself. And then again with more authority, "The circle line to St. James's Park. The circle line to St. James's Park."

Like a Gregorian chant, he repeated the sentence as he descended the stairs. He maintained its metre and rhythm up to the ticket window and did not cease until he had placed himself squarely on the train. There he glanced at the other occupants of the car, found two elderly ladies watching him with unveiled avidity, and ducked his head. "So confusing," he explained, trying out a timid smile of friendship. "One gets so turned about."

"All kinds is what I'm tellin' you, Pammy," the younger of the two women declared to her companion. She shot a look of practiced, chilling contempt at the cleric. "Disguised as anything, I hear." Keeping her watery eyes on the confused priest, she dragged her withered friend to her feet, clung to the poles near the door, and urged her out loudly at the very next stop.

Father Hart watched their departure with resignation. No blaming them, he thought. One couldn't trust. Not ever. Not really. And that's what he'd come to London to say: that it wasn't the truth. It only looked like the truth. A body, a girl, and a bloody axe. But it wasn't the truth. He had to convince them, and... Oh Lord, he had so little talent for this. But God was on his side. He held onto that thought. What I'm doing is right, what I'm doing is right, what I'm doing is right. Replacing the other, this new chant took him right to the doors of New Scotland Yard.

Copyright 1989 by Elizabeth George
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Table of Contents

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 91 )
Rating Distribution

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(38)

4 Star

(26)

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(11)

2 Star

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 91 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 2, 2001

    COULDN'T PUT IT DOWN! A REAL PAGE TURNER!

    While the story is unfolding, you find yourself questioning 'why?' very often. When, finally, all the 'whys?' are answered, you are exhausted and sweaty and in dire need of a frosty O'Dell's. Simply remarkable reading. The plot development, character development and finish are phenomenal. A must read. Elizabeth George is, simply put, the BEST!

    5 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 3, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Complicated characters, engaging plot, well-written - a must read for mystery lovers!

    Elizabeth George is one of my favorite authors (the kind you have to purchase in hardcover when she comes out with a new book). This is the first in her series of Inspector Lynley mysteries. Elizabeth George writes really well, but what really fascinates are her complex characters and their relationships. Her mysteries are a little on the dark side, but well worth it.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 28, 2002

    The Book Is Better

    Recently seen in its adaptation on television readers will, I think, find the book better done and much more enjoyable. All of the Elizabeth George novels are more than worth the readers time and attention. They are all most enjoyable on several levels.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 12, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Gret Series start - better than PBS can produce

    Roberta Teys is found sitting in the barn over the headless body of her father and she freely admits "I did it. I'm not sorry.? But the residents of the small village cannot believe that Roberta could possibly do such a thing and so Scotland Yard is brought in to determine if Roberta really is the murderer. As the story unfolds the reader is taken through the village seeing Roberta as a pathetic unloved creature. Her mother abandoned the family when she was very small and her beloved older sister ran away leaving her on the farm with her overly zealous father. Her only escape appeared to be in books and time spent with her dog Whiskers and a small child in the village. However, the evidence appears to point to Roberta as the murderer because the dog's blood is all over the clothes that she was wearing and since the dog's body is beneath Farmer Teys' body, he had to be killed before her father. The deeper that Inspector Lynley and DS Havers dig to find out the true nature of the events, the deeper the reader is drawn into the lives of not only the villagers but Havers and Lynley as well. This book is the beginning of the Inspector Lynley series. I had watched several of the episodes that were shown on PBS and decided that I wanted to get more of the background of the characters so I'm starting at the beginning, but I got more than I bargained for. The beginning of the book seemed a bit disjointed to me, jumping around from one character and place to another, but in the end it all came together like a flash of lightning to explain how all the characters were impacted by the events that led to the murder. Definitely have to continue with the books - the characterizations are tremendous as well as the plot twists for the reader. I admitted to being completely stunned by the ending.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 11, 2003

    Great read!!!

    George is a good writer - vividly portrays settings and scences. The novel also keeps you guessing - great psychological thriller. She plays the British class angle a bit strongly but it's a great read nonetheless. Incidentally, I've run out and bought her other books as well - they're REALLY hard to put down. THe PBS version with Nathaniel Parker as DI Lynley is also very good - a different angle on the story, but well done.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 22, 2000

    EXCELLENT PSYCHOLOGICAL THRILLER

    THIS MYSTERY REALLY MADE MY MIND WORK. THE CHARACTERS ARE WELL WRITTEN AND THE PSYCHOLOGICAL DRAMA IS VERY REAL. DET. INSPECTOR LYNLEY IS A TRUE GENTLEMAN. ONE REALLY GETS TO KNOW JUST HOW WELL MANNERED HE IS. SGT. HAVERS IS A DELIGHT; FUNNY AND ALSO A BIT SAD. YOU'LL LOVE HER. A MUST READ. TERRIFIC ENDING AND A SHOCKING ONE.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 5, 2013

    Wow

    Great intro for a series. Wish that there was more of a closing with Havers and her family at the end.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 27, 2013

    Back to Square 1...

    I am a huge fan of George's work so I decided to go back to the beginning & read all of her books a second time. And I will have to buy most of them again as I didn't save them all the first time (what was I thinking?!) But I don't mind...I'll just consider it an investment for the future as I can see myself someday possibly reading them all a third time because they are THAT good! Looking forward to many more pleasurable hours of reading...

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 4, 2013

    Amazing

    George is a fantastic writer and makes you feel the pain, happiness, and fear of all the characters

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  • Posted May 11, 2013

    an early book, but still great

    well done, Elizabeth George. I wanted the St. James' and Lindley as characters, and as an early book, tells much of the situation between them, which is always aluded to in future books.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 26, 2012

    Must read

    Great tale of suspense with a surprise ending.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 26, 2012

    Great series.

    This is a great beginning of a series that is well worth reading. Characters are very completely alive. You will miss them when you finish the book. Fortunately, you have many more ahead of you.

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  • Posted July 9, 2012

    OK book, but predictable

    This book kept me reading, primarily to find out how they solved the crime, and if the priest ever did tell the authorties about the father.

    I had the mystery solved soon after the characters were introduced. It was somewhat obvious what the secret was, and who killed the father.

    Is it common for Catholic priests to keep child abuse secret from the police even though they found out through the confession booth? I thought it was a law that those crimes must be reported by care givers, teachers, etc.

    I know they certainly kept it hidden and covered up when child abuse was committed by their own.

    I was disappointed that the author did not bring the priest to justice for hiding this crime, in the book.

    In all, a somewhat entertaining book, but not the best I've read.

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 28, 2012

    Beginning of a great series

    My first Inspector Lynley book and I LOVED it. I honestly didn't know it was written in 1988, thought it was set in the 90's. It really was timeless, the story a good mystery. Who killed a well like farmer in a small town near York, England. So many suspects, but the motive was stunning and painful. So well written, loved the character development and the ending. I am hooked and will be reading more in this series.

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  • Posted May 23, 2012

    needed back ground info for furture books

    Haven't read her books in order, but felt this one jumped from person to person without any warning. My first thought was this is the first book she had written. It does give more info into the character and glad the purchased it.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 21, 2012

    Excellent!

    Don't know why I took so long to read Elizabeth George. Looking forward to more. Well written.

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    Posted April 3, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted January 21, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted May 20, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted January 14, 2011

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