Friday, December 27, 2013

Book Review: Just One Evil Act by Elizabeth George

I was asked by Dutton books if I'd like to review Elizabeth George's newest book "Just One Evil Act". Although I'd never read a book by this incredibly popular author, I had heard great things from one of my very good friends, Sherry. Sherry and I share a love of the mystery genre. We pass books back and forth and sometimes even coordinate who's buying what new book in a series so there isn't an overlap with an author we're both crazy about. About a week or so before I got this Dutton offer Sherry had lent me three Elizabeth George books, explaining that she's an American author who writes novels set in Great Britain. She also has a British style of writing. Now I was excited, I had four NEW novels, I could really get to know the characters and story line!

I started the latest tome (I mean I had been asked to review it after all, lol) and got about ten pages in. I realized I really, really wished I knew more about the characters NOW. Luckily, it was that night that I noticed the BBC had started airing the television series "The Inspector Lynley Mysteries" on our local channel. What luck!! I put the series on permanent tape and watched my first Lynley mystery right then and there. Loving the Lynley character and mystery series was a shoe in, even though I usually don't go for the British-type authors and mystery series, I found Lynley especially likable and his sidekick Sargent Havers a spectacular foil for his character. YAY, I had a new series of which I knew there were at least eighteen mysteries to devour. Happy Camper Here!

Ok, so I picked up this 700+ page book again. Now that I knew the general outline of the characters, I was ready to really enjoy a good mystery. Unfortunately, knowing who Lynley/Havers were didn't improve my reading enjoyment. It isn't the characters who make this book unenjoyable or even that it's mystery is convoluted with many twists and turns and extra characters, it's that this book could use a  really good editor. Seriously, two hundred pages could easily be cut from this book and no story or plot line would be affected. It's a shame. After reading "Just One Evil Act" I went and read reviews on her other previous books, and then, much unlike me, I read reviews on THIS book. I have to admit I was relieved to find both that her other books have great reviews generally and this one seems to almost universally be thought of as long winded. 

I hate writing bad reviews. I want to support authors. I can't imagine how much effort it must take to write even one book, but to keep a series interesting, on track and lively must be doubly difficult. I therefore find it hard to admit just how annoying I found reading this book to be. I was actually yelling at the book many times, telling the author to GET ON WITH THE STORY ALREADY!! 

The story mainly takes place in Italy with Havers as the main character trying to solve the kidnapping of young Hadiyyah, her friend Azhar's daughter. The story idea and the look into Havers' character was the thing that initially appealed to me about this, the eighteenth book in George's Inspector Lynley series. I was excited to learn more about Barbara Havers, and I did throughout this book, but it was a painful trip. I slogged through way to many descriptions of the surroundings to get the wanted nuggets of information. One of the other huge mistakes, in my humble opinion, was the use of so many Italian sayings without an english translation. I found myself thinking I should be reading this book with a Italian to English dictionary on side. 

I guess what I'm saying is if you're thinking of trying an Elizabeth George book, don't try this one first, start at the beginning of the series. She's well worth reading, this book just isn't the one to start with. On the other hand, if you're a die-hard fan like my friend Sherry you're probably gonna have to slog through seven hundred pages, if just to get the information out of it so you can get to the next book that I'm sure George will be writing in 2014. This may be a two out of five star book for me but I'm gonna continue watching the Lynley mysteries on TV (it's on tonight, YAY!) and I'm also going to read those other three borrowed George books. I  really believe the author is worth a second (and even third) look. Everyone deserves a second chance, right?  Right!

Wishing everyone a very Happy New Years! YAAY, it's almost 2014!!!!!


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