Book: In the Presence of the Enemy

A couple of days ago I blogged about discovering Elizabeth George’s collection of short stories, I, Richard, and how much I appreciated those stories.

At the same time I checked out her book In the Presence of the Enemy. Now those of you who pay attention to the reading I choose here will note that I tend a bit toward active material and often shorter works, despite the fact that I do like good characterization, which is often what is lost in such books. In this case, the book is longer (535 pp.) and not nearly as light. There is good action, but there are also long sections devoted to developing the character, even the character of the murder victim. This book is in a different category from many mysteries that I read. It has more characteristics of a serious novel. At the same time I enjoyed it, though it won’t replace the kind of light reading I like to rest my mind after a hard day’s work writing or editing.

The mystery element is also excellent. I must confess that I wondered briefly about the character who is actually guilty, but had dismissed that person for various reasons and thus was surprised by the ending. I had reasons to believe that each one of the possibilities were not the right one. I do like to be surprised. There are clues to the right character for those who read more attentively than I did. Thinking back I was able to see where I should have become suspicious.

I particularly liked the development of the moral character. Two key people, Dennis Luxford, a journalist of an amoral, circulation building variety, and Eve Bowen, an MP of the ambitious variety have to face who they are and what they have done in their lives. I felt that the process in each case was quite believable and human, and provided plenty to think about.

This is definitely a 4 star book for me!

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