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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
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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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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5.0 out of 5 stars She's gone missing Aug. 7 2002
Format:Mass Market Paperback
(Paperback version.)
This mystery suspense thriller opens with the kidnapping of Charlotte, a.k.a. Lottie, a.k.a. Charlie, the ten-year old daughter of Eve Bowen, the Undersecretary of State for Britain's Home Office. Lottie, we soon discover, is the result of a brief but torrid romance with one Dennis Luxford while Eve attended a political conference eleven years previous. Now, Dennis is the editor in chief of The Source, a "tawdry and noisome" tabloid that has achieved spectacular gains in circulation by exposing the scandalous behavior of Eve's peers in the Tory government. The kidnapper is demanding that Luxford acknowledge his firstborn child on the front page of The Source. The problem is no one except Eve and Luxford are supposed to know that he is Lottie's daddy, and be it known, Eve's political career will be ruined. Certain that Luxford has staged Lottie's disappearance so he can print her humiliating disgrace, Eve hardly acknowledges that "she's gone missing." But the reader knows Dennis is innocent.
Elisabeth George develops this confused situation into an intricate and superbly plotted mystery with well-developed characters and rich dialogue. George writes in the King's (or is it the Queen's?) English, though. You might wonder what's going on when the sprat is told to shut his gob or he'll be gated for talking bosh. But then, it's a mystery isn't it.
Whether or not you're a fan of British mystery genre novels, this is a highly recommended read.
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Format:Mass Market Paperback
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 status at the top of the rankings once again.
Thumbnail plot sketch: A child is kidnapped. The child was the result of a week-long tryst years before, and the two parents have since both risen to prominence, but in very different ways. The mother (with whom the child lives) is a prominent and ambitious Tory politician. The father is the editor of a scandal sheet. The mother wants nothing to do with the father, and his paternity has never been publicly acknowledged.
When the child is kidnapped, the kidnapper insists that the father acknowledge the child or else the child will be murdered. The father is entirely willing to agree to the demand, but the mother is not - and believes that in fact the father himself is behind the kidnapping.
To relate much more of the plot would be to spoil it for the reader. But Lynley and Havers eventually get involved in the case, and there is the usual wonderful writing, complex plot, and rich characterizations that we always get in Elizabeth George's books.
I actually think this book is slightly weaker than some of George's other work, because to me the fundamental premises don't ring true. The mother's reasons for not wanting the father to acknowledge his paternity are unconvincing (to me, anyway), and the ultimate explanation for the crime has an implausible motive. Furthermore, as a frequent reader of crime novels I get very tired of the constant portrayal of all conservative politicians as hypocritical scoundrels. Some real life conservative politicians may well BE hypocritical scoundrels.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Finely Crafted
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... Read more
Published on Nov. 24 2010 by Toni Osborne
4.0 out of 5 stars A real thriller !
A great novel, with an unexpected ending. One of the best of Elizabeth George !
Published on Aug. 18 2008 by J. Beauchesne
5.0 out of 5 stars Impossible to put down!
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. Read more
Published on May 22 2004 by Beverley Strong
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 Amazon Customer
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. 10 2002 by S. Schwartz
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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