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In the Presence of the Enemy [Mass Market Paperback]

Elizabeth George
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (51 customer reviews)

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Book Description

May 5 1997
Hailed as the "king of sleaze," tabloid editor Dennis Luxford is used to ferreting out the sins and scandals of people in exposed positions. But when he opens an innocuous-looking letter addressed to him at The Source, he discovers that someone else excels at ferreting out secrets as well.

Ten-year-old Charlotte Bowen has been abducted, and if Luxford does not admit publicly to having fathered her, she will die. But Charlotte's existence is Luxford's most fiercely guarded secret, and acknowledging her as his child will throw more than one life and career into chaos. Luxford knows that the story of Charlotte's paternity could make him a laughingstock and reveal to his beautiful wife and son the lie he's lived for a decade. Yet it's not only Luxford's reputation that's on the line: it's also the reputation—and career—of Charlotte Bowen's mother. For she is Undersecretary of State for the Home Office, one of the most high-profile Junior Ministers and quite possibly the next Margaret Thatcher.

Knowing that her political future hangs in the balance, Eve Bowen refuses to let Luxford damage her career by printing the story or calling the police. So the editor turns to forensic scientist Simon St. James for help. It's a case that fills St. James with disquiet, however, for none of the players in the drama seem to react the way one would expect.

Then tragedy occurs and New Scotland Yard becomes involved. Detective Inspector Thomas Lynley soon discovers that the case sends tentacles from London into the countryside, and he must simultaneously outfox death as he probes Charlotte Bowen's mysterious disappearance. Meanwhile, his partner Detective Sergeant Barbara Havers, working part of the investigation on her own and hoping to make the coup of her career, may be drawing closer to a grim solution—and to danger—than anyone knows.

In the Presence of the Enemy is a brilliantly insightful and haunting novel of ideals corrupted by self-interest, of the sins of parents visited upon children, and of the masks that hide people from each other—and from themselves.

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Product Description

From Amazon

In her previous novels, including the bestselling Playing for the Ashes, George has developed the characters of forensic scientist Simon St. James, Detective Inspector Thomas Lynley and Detective Sergeant Barbara Havers to a fine degree. In this, her eighth novel, the secret love child of an ambitious politician and a sleazy tabloid publisher is kidnapped. When Scotland Yard gets involved, Lynley and Havers must elude death as they search for the child and her kidnappers. An insightful and haunting novel of ideals corrupted and retribution visited upon the heads of the innocent. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Publishers Weekly

After seven outings (the last was Playing for the Ashes), upper-crust Detective Inspector Thomas Lynley and his stubby, working-class sergeant, Barbara Havers, have formed a comfortable working relationship, which George plays to perfection here. Ten-year-old Charlotte, daughter of Conservative MP Eve Bowen, is abducted after leaving a weekly music lesson not far from her London home. Dennis Luxford, editor for a tabloid-style, decidedly anti-Conservative newspaper, receives a message threatening Charlotte unless he acknowledges her paternity. Bowen, a rising star in the Home Office, chooses to avoid using the police, knowing that disclosure of her brief, long-ago fling with Luxford will ruin her politically. She agrees with Luxford to ask forensic scientist Simon St. James and his assistant Lady Helen (who is Lynley's lover) to investigate undercover. But soon a murder draws in Scotland Yard, allowing Lynley and Havers to lead a complicated investigation to its electrifying and astonishing conclusion. This absorbing tale, in which retribution for the sins of the parents is exacted from-and by-their children, raises questions of parental love and responsibility on several levels. George's fully developed characters will live with the readers long after the last page is turned. Mystery Guild selection; Literary Guild alternate; BDD Audio.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars A Delicious Thrill Ride Indeed! June 4 1999
Format:Audio Cassette
From the first paragraph to the last, ''In The Presence Of The Enemy''is as delicious as a well-done T-bone steak and as thrilling a ride as an amusement park roller coaster, given its author's delightfully detailed work and its climb to dizzying high points before coming to rest on cliff-hanger pauses and rapidly dropping into spine-tingling twists. Besides, with graduations and Father's Day here again, surely there's a dad or graduate on your gift list who has dropped hints about their being a mystery nut!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Lots of armchair psychology in this. May 30 2002
By Luca
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Ms. George is an intriguing writer. I kept coming back to this, even though I resented her obvious manipulations. One character, Eve Bowen, is portrayed as the most repellent mother who ever lived, a politician interested only in her own career and lacking the least shred of maternal instinct toward her child or affection for her patient, adoring husband. Nasty woman! Doesn't she deserve some comeuppance! Please. We would have got the message without the portrait being so deliberately one-sided, the consequences so utterly ruinous. On the other hand, another principal character, Dennis Luxford, turns out to be more rounded. Luxford is the editor of the sleaziest of tabloids, a former womanizer who has no idea how many illegitimate children he might have fathered, and who lives in horror that his legitimate son might be a sissy. (Luxford, you see, knows that he himself is attractive to men, though he's not "that way" himself, of course, yet it frightens him!) ... Pretty dispicable, huh? To her credit (and my surprise), Ms. George makes us like him. There are 500-plus pages of misdirection, and about 100 more of suspenseful unraveling. I read them all. Ms. George may play her readers false from time to time, but she is talented. If only she could use a lighter hand with her "bad" characters -- and refrain from so much pop psychology lavished on all of them.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Finely Crafted Nov. 24 2010
By Toni Osborne TOP 100 REVIEWER
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Book 8 in the Inspector Lynley series

Ms George knows how to sustain her readers' attention in tales that are not only suspenseful but finely crafted and delightfully intricate. With "In the Presence of the Enemy" she once more proves that she is one of the best classic British mystery novelist today.

The story opens with the kidnapping of young Charlotte Bowen. The kidnapper(s) demand her father, publisher Dennis Luxford to pay an unusual ransom, " Divulge on the front page of his newspaper that he has fathered a child in a loveless tryst with Eve Bowen ". But Eve, a high ranking influential member of parliament hesitates and refuses to go along with the demand. She believes that Dennis has engineered everything to discredit her and is so convinced it is a hoax she steadfastly refuses to involve the authorities.

The story advances at a rapid pace and the plot thickens when another child disappears. After realizing the determination of the kidnapper(s), Inspector Lynley and Detective Havers from Scotland Yard are called upon and brought up to speed. Following this duo as they piece clue after clue is a riveting experience, the writer plunges us into an adrenaline filled game of cat and mouse.

Ms George spoon feeds her readers tit-bits of information seemingly leading them down the garden path and at just the right time she jumps track and throws her readers completely off balance. Being unpredictable helps pique the readers interest even more.

Along with the main plot, interlaced are sub-plots involving Lynley's financé Helen who is wrestling with her own demons and making a small but important appearance is forensic scientist Simon and his wife Deborah. All the characters are believable although not all likeable but definitely all expertly drawn to keep us captivated. This is a suspense filled mystery from start to finish, one of Ms George's best.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A real thriller ! Aug. 18 2008
Format:Mass Market Paperback
A great novel, with an unexpected ending. One of the best of Elizabeth George !
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5.0 out of 5 stars Impossible to put down! May 22 2004
Format:Mass Market Paperback
When the daughter of a Tory MP is kidnapped, DI Thomas Lynley and his off-sider, DS Barbara Havers are eventually brought into the case. Eve Bowen, the politician, is initially reluctant to agree to the demands of the kidnapper who insists that the well known editor of a scandal sheet newspaper admits to being the father of Eve's illegitimate child. The plot thickens, involving police, the press and members of Parliament, with some very interestingly drawn characters whom Elizabeth George paints most convincingly. I loved this book and was unable to put it down, so much so that I can't wait to get more stories involving the main characters.
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4.0 out of 5 stars gripping with a slightly flawed conclusion Feb. 4 2004
By Min
Format:Mass Market Paperback
I really enjoyed this book -- it took forever to listen to on cassette, and I was still sorry when it ended. But there were a few things that bugged me:
1. As another reviewer said, the perp sort of came out of left field. His or her motivations were explained after the identity was revealed, but it felt to me like one of those scenes in "Mission Impossible II" where the "good guys" kept pulling off their fake faces and turning out to be the bad guys.
2. The climax includes a scene that's almost identical to one in Payment in Blood (which happens to be the last one I read), where a woman, while alone with a man, receives a phone call informing her that the man is probably the murderer. It's a good suspense-builder, but not as effective the second time.
3. It was pretty obvious in the final confrontation who was going to save the day, though it was apparently intended as a surprise twist.
All that said, though, I thought this was really fine stuff. I thought the "temporary" characters (Eve Bowen, Dennis Luxford, their families, etc.) were very well drawn, and I enjoyed the further development of the recurring ones (Lynley, Havers, Simon, Deborah, and Helen). I do often hate Lynley and wonder why his friends put up with him, but he generally redeems himself eventually. And like the other reviewer, I agree that Barbara deserves at least a little happiness.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars George Bounces Back
After a disappointing turn with Playing for the Ashes, George goes back to the creativity and readability that she showed in Missing Joseph. Read more
Published on Aug. 31 2003 by Jeffrey Davenport
4.0 out of 5 stars Slow Then Addictive...
I was very disappointed in the first ~100 pages of this installment in the Lynley/Havers series. Neither of them appeared and the action was very very slow-moving. Read more
Published on June 29 2003 by Louis M. Perdue
5.0 out of 5 stars great read, but be careful-Addicting!
This was my first Elizabeth George book...held me from the opening pages, and didn't let up till the end. I have now read 2 others and am on my 4th. Read more
Published on Jan. 8 2003 by jjb
5.0 out of 5 stars WOW!!
Elizabeth George is a master storyteller, and a wonderful novelist. Her books are certainly a lot more than just a cozy little whodunit, that entertains for evening. Read more
Published on Sept. 11 2002 by S. Schwartz
5.0 out of 5 stars She's gone missing
(Paperback version.)
This mystery suspense thriller opens with the kidnapping of Charlotte, a.k.a. Lottie, a.k.a. Read more
Published on Aug. 7 2002 by Gregory Bascom
5.0 out of 5 stars "Not her best" is still better than anyone else's best
Elizabeth George is the best living writer of mysteries in the English-speaking world, period. And this book, like all the others in the Lynley-Havers series, establishes her... Read more
Published on July 7 2002 by Stan Vernooy
5.0 out of 5 stars Another good tale
This is another winning volume in her popular series. This time, the theme is dirty politics and journalism, set against a background of despicable, personal crimes. Read more
Published on June 1 2002 by RachelWalker
5.0 out of 5 stars ARRRRGGGGHHH!!
I am only 100 pages into what I feel is a GREAT book, made the mistake of reading the Amazon reviews, and here a huge plot feature is revealed! Is it me??! Read more
Published on Sept. 4 2001 by mmargarita02
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