Home > Fiction: Mystery > What Came Before He Shot Her by Elizabeth George

What Came Before He Shot Her by Elizabeth George

Fiction: Mystery. Hardback from Harper Collins. Published in 2006. 548 pages. From PaperBackSwap.com.

After the ending of With No One as Witness, I struggled mightily about whether I wanted to read this book or not. As you may or may not know, most of George’s books feature Inspector Lynley. The “she” referred to in the title of this book is the pregnant wife of said Inspector. She was a character that I really liked and it was very difficult to come to terms with her demise. (Apparently, I was not the only one who was conflicted about it. There is a message from Elizabeth George on her web page about her decision to have this particular character die. It actually helped me decide to go ahead and read this book.)

Part of my reluctance to read it had to do with a certainty that George would end up making me feel sympathetic towards the shooter, which I really wasn’t interested in being. (Sometimes you just want to be outraged rather than think about both sides of things.) And, as I guessed, she does exactly that. It’s really quite a sad story. It’s not the same type of read you usually get from Elizabeth George, and it was not easy to watch these people’s lives continue their downward spiral. It certainly gives the reader much to consider.

Publisher’s summary:
The brutal, inexplicable death of Inspector Thomas Lynley’s wife has left Scotland Yard shocked and searching for answers. Even more horrifying is that the trigger was apparently pulled by a twelve-year-old boy. Who is he? Where did he come from? And what were the circumstances that led to his final act of desperation?

That story begins on the other side of London, in rough North Kensington, where the three mixed-race, virtually orphaned Campbell children are bounced first from their grandmother then to their aunt. The oldest, fifteen-year-old Ness, is headed for trouble as fast as her high-heeled boots will take her. That leaves the middle child, Joel, to care for the youngest, Toby. No one wants to put it into words, but something clearly isn’t right with Toby.

Before long, there are signs that Joel himself has problems. A local gang starts harassing him and threatening his brother. To protect his family, Joel makes a pact with the devil—a move that leads straight to the front doorstep of Thomas Lynley.

The anatomy of a murder, the story of a family in crisis, What Came Before He Shot Her is a powerful, emotional novel full of deep psychological insights, a novel that only the incomparable Elizabeth George could write.

Online book shopping:
Powell’s: What Came Before He Shot Her
amazon.co.uk: What Came Before He Shot Her
amazon.com: What Came Before He Shot Her
Audible.com: What Came Before He Shot Her (Only available in Abridged form)

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Categories: Fiction: Mystery
  1. Alice
    Sunday, 28 October 2007 at 2:40 pm

    Were you irritated by so much of this book being written in the vernacular of the English lower class society about whom the book revolves? I have just started the book and am already wearying of reading this dialogue. I think it’s fine for an author to suggest dialect, but to attempt to reproduce it accurately all the time is most annoying.

  2. Sunday, 28 October 2007 at 3:58 pm

    Hmm. Interesting. I don’t remember it bothering me, so I guess it didn’t irritate me. 🙂

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