By Tina Jordan
Updated October 13, 2006 at 04:00 AM EDT


Fans of Elizabeth George’s Inspector Lynley series admire these dense British mysteries for many reasons — their complexity, their intelligence, and, above all, their dissimilarity: George heads in new directions with each book. Sometimes she falters; other times, she succeeds brilliantly. What Came Before is a tour de force from a writer flexing her muscles as she’s never done before. It’s not a whodunit, but a whydunit, exploring the events that led up to the brutal murder of Lynley’s wife at the end of the last book, With No One as Witness. In George’s masterful hands, 548 pages of backstory — with the killer’s identity never in question — becomes absolutely riveting.