Don’t let the size of Elizabeth George’s newest Lynley-Havers novel put you off. Just One Evil Act finds her back in fine form with an engrossing read and a case that has unexpected turns and settings.
Readers of the series know Sergeant Barbara Havers has grown fond of her neighbor, Taymullah Azhar, and his daughter, Hadiyyah. Never married to the child’s mother, Angelina had nevertheless reappeared in an previous book and charmed her way into the life of both Havers and Azhar before disappearing with the child. Havers can’t really help—Azhar had never married Angelina, and his name isn’t on Hadiyyah’s birth certificate so he has no legal claim. In desperation, Azhar and Barbara hire a private detective to find her without success.
Then Angelina reappears with shocking news: Hadiyyah is missing, kidnapped from an Italian marketplace. The Italian police are investigating, and the Yard won’t get involved–that is, until Havers takes matters into her own hands at the risk of her own career. And there’s no doubt her career is in jeopardy: Lynley’s brief affair with her superior now over, the woman seems out to end Haver’s career and a colleague gleefully assists her.
Havers travels to Italy to the town of Lucca, charmingly and faithfully described, and what she finds there will have Inspector Lynley joining her as they try to unravel what soon becomes a far more complex case than a typical kidnapping, revealing secrets that have far-reaching effects outside of the investigation. There will be disputes with the Italian police and a diabolical politician as both Havers and Lynley find themselves in unknown territory and with their authority in question. With both her job and the life of a little girl on the line, Barbara must decide what matters most, and how far she’s willing to go to protect it.
At times there seems to be no good ending for either Havers or Azhar and his daughter; and yet at the end of this book readers will feel that the resolution is the only one that could have happened.
George has also tested the waters in the YA department with the publication of the first in a new series last year, The Edge of Nowhere, which introduced teen Becca, who has a sixth sense about people and who is on the run from her criminal stepfather. Its sequel The Edge of the Water,, finds Becca still living in secret on Whidbey Island, even hiding from her boyfriend, the Ugandan orphan Derric.
This is not as simple a book as you might expect if you’re an adult reading a novel intended for the YA audience, and there is a lot of exploration of the sex lives of teenagers. There is also a story line of a black seal named Nero who returns to the same place every year that gives a different kind of edge to the mystery which might frustrate adults reading it but Auntie M suspects it will delight YA readers.
Becca’s ability to hear people’s thoughts are there, along with a supernatural mystery and plenty of teen drama for the intended audience. The main characters’ arcs show development and the discoveries within the community are an added facet. There will be resolution to some of the issues at the end with enough open to lead YA readers to the next installment.