August 08, 2003 at 04:00 AM EDT

A Place of Hiding

Current Status
In Season
Elizabeth George
Mystery and Thriller, Fiction
We gave it an A

Elizabeth George has mastered the British mystery so well that you’d never guess she’s American. The 12 books in her Lynley series are woven together in intricate but seamless patterns; a small group of characters — like Thomas Lynley, acting superintendent of New Scotland Yard — recur, sometimes claiming the spotlight, other times retreating to the shadows. A Place of Hiding centers on forensic scientist Simon St. James and his wife, Deborah, who are stunned when an old friend of Deborah’s is jailed in Guernsey, charged with the murder of an eccentric philanthropist. As they travel to the isolated Channel Island to help her, the story unspools in classic George fashion: Nothing is what you’d expect; the twists are complex, often unspeakably dark; and the end, when it comes, defies prediction and yet makes perfect sense. The previous two Lynley novels seemed too dense for newcomers, but that’s not the case here. And while the St. Jameses are not as vivid as some of George’s other regulars, that’s a minor quibble. This is mystery writing at its most complex and intelligent.

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