Customer Review

64 of 72 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars George's Ghastly Medicine., 31 Oct 2013
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This review is from: Just One Evil Act (Inspector Lynley 18) (Hardcover)
When Hadiyyah,the daughter of her friend Taymullah Azhar, is taken by the girl's mother, Detective Sergeant Barbara Havers is in no position to help since Azhar has no legal claim as he and Angelina had never married and his name does not appear on the girl's birth certificate. Five months later things take a sinister turn when Angelina turns up in England and accuses Azhar of kidnapping their daughter from an Italian marketplace where Angelina has been living with her Italian lover, Lorenzo. Havers is distraught for Azhar but also very concerned about Hadiyyah as she has grown to care deeply for the young girl.

Readers of Ms. George's novels will not be surprised that Barbara immediately sets out on a course of action that could well place her career in jeopardy in order to clear Azhar of suspicion and to find his daughter alive and well. However, the case is far more complicated than Havers could possibly imagine.

This book is a complete mess and is perhaps the worst novel I have ever read, largely due to Ms. George's writing style. There are other factors such as a ridiculously far fetched and needlessly complicated plot and the novel, comprising more than 700 pages, is far too long and over-written; I had lost interest in the story and had been driven to distraction by page 150. Elizabeth George has always been guilty, even in her better and earlier novels, of using words out of context and squashing as many obscure words as possible into each chapter- presumably to show readers just how erudite and well-read she is. Does she not realize that the best writers use beautiful, clean, uncluttered English.

What sets this novel apart and gives rise to my unadulterated dislike of the story is the Ital-inglese she employs in those chapters set in Lucca. It was an excruciating and cringe-inducing experience trying to wade through her mish-mash of Italian/ English and what purpose does this Ital-inglese serve except to drive readers insane!

Obviously Ms. George must feel she is being very subtle as she employs a certain cumbersome and predictable technique to enable readers to understand all those Italian words, phrases and, yes occasionally, even sentences.

To give but a few examples, she describes a character buying a "cintura" and then proceeds to describe this man as passing the "cintura" through the loops of his trousers; she also writes of his stomach hanging over the "cintura" of his trousers- why not his stomach hung over the belt of his" pantaloni"? She mentions another man buying foccacia al cipolla and then has to go on to say he had to buy mints to disguise the odour of onions on his breath... and so on and so on ad infinitum. This also begs the question "what led her to chose to write certain words and phrases in Italian and not others." It also explains to some extent why this book is so horrendously long-winded.

The only possible explanation for this egregious infestation of carefully selected Italian words and phrases, which detracts hugely from any enjoyment of the story, is that Elizabeth George wished to demonstrate to readers her fluency in Italian or even that she has a smattering of that beautiful language. This is a remarkably selfish indulgence and shows a deplorable lack of empathy with fans of her books. I speak Italian and studied it for years so while I had no difficulty with the Italian per se, it was unbelievably irksome. I had to exercise great restraint to prevent myself from flinging the book against the wall and labour on through the never-ending gruel of what passes for prose in this novel. It was with a great sense of relief that I finally reached page 710.

Barbara Havers is my favourite character and having a great passion for Italy I was looking forward to following Barbara's exploits in Tuscany and was therefore predisposed to like Just One Evil Act but alas... I enjoy reading many authors whose novels are written in English and set in Italy including David Hewson..

Elizabeth George's last few novels have proved disappointing and I have found her style increasingly annoying but all previous efforts pale into insignificance when compared to this uniquely appalling offering.
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Showing 1-4 of 4 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 1 Jan 2014 10:46:43 GMT
Trissa says:
You expressed beautifully what I have been thinking about this book as I ploughed through it. I have lost interest in the events in Italy despite Linley being there. I look forward to being back in London with Havers. It is taking me forever to get through the book. I am listening to it but if I were reading it, I would have skipped huge chunks! Thank you for your review!

In reply to an earlier post on 16 Jan 2014 23:21:36 GMT
Pigwin says:
Dear Trissa,

I have just seen your kind comment and it is much appreciated - many thanks.

In reply to an earlier post on 19 Jan 2014 13:36:54 GMT
I totally agree. These comments could have been written by me. A dreadful, convoluted, unrealistic plot with dreadful, unrealistic characters. Possibly the worst crime novel I have ever read.

Posted on 24 Feb 2014 17:51:44 GMT
Mary says:
Thank you Pigwin. I could have written this review myself! Having read about two-thirds of the book I really can't be bothered to finis it, particularly since the next section is set in Lucca with presumably another stab at showing readers the author's knowledge of Italian.
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