In the Presence of the Enemy Mass Market Paperback – May 5 1997
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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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Top Customer Reviews
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.
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.
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.
Most recent customer reviews
A great novel, with an unexpected ending. One of the best of Elizabeth George !Published on Aug. 18 2008 by J. Beauchesne
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 morePublished on May 22 2004 by Beverley Strong
After a disappointing turn with Playing for the Ashes, George goes back to the creativity and readability that she showed in Missing Joseph. Read morePublished on Aug. 31 2003 by Amazon Customer
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 morePublished on June 29 2003 by Louis M. Perdue
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 morePublished on Jan. 8 2003 by jjb
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 morePublished on Sept. 10 2002 by Shirley Schwartz
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 morePublished on July 7 2002 by Stan Vernooy
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 morePublished on June 1 2002 by RachelWalker