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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 12-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, 15-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. An 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.
©2006 Elizabeth George; (P)2005 HarperCollins Publishers Inc.
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Critic Reviews

"George deftly depicts the palaver and predicaments of middle-[class] and working-class Brits in this dark, chilling tale of desperation and revenge." (Booklist)
"Another winner from the current master of the classic English mystery." (Atlantic Monthly)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

By Rebecarol on 12-20-07

Bleak, pedantic but...love Elizabeth George

I've been conflicted on this one. I love Elizabeth George's Thomas Lynley mysteries, have never listened to one, but have read them all. I'd been reluctant to read this one based on the jacket material, so opted to listen as an option.

If you're an Elizabeth George fan, this one is problematic because those characters we know and love and have followed for years make an appearance only in the last few pages of the book, though the dramatic foreshadowing prepares you exactly for what is going to happen.

George is just too heavy-handed with this one. Too unremittingly bleak, and also too didactic. Again and again we hear various characters talking about problems with "the youth of today." They harp on the desire for a rush of sudden fame, bad work ethic -- and the harping is not worked in elegantly, it becomes stulfyingly, speechifyingly overwrought.

This book is, perhaps, so much more slender than the typical George book because she tells and tells and tells vs. showing.

All that being said, I still give this three stars because she does create plot tension, not an easy thing to do given that the book opens with telling us that the "she" in question, Lynley's wife Helen, is going to be shot (so not giving away any surprises here). And the characters are compelling. But its hard to wallow in this world, as brief as the sojourn is, and no one likes to listen to lectures, especially when they're as ill-disguised as these are. At end, if you love George, read it or listen to it; if you haven't read George, don't start with this one. Start with any of her other Lynley mysteries, this one is a trifling by comparison.

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11 of 11 people found this review helpful


By Alliji on 06-23-08

What is the point

I have always enjoyed Elizabeth George books so I kept listening, thinking it would get better. It did not. The whole story is about siblings who are deserted by their mother and left on their aunts doorstep. The aunt was not equipped to handle the problems of teenage sex, drugs and gangs. The book had no redeeming qualities. I can get this kind of drama on the nightly news.

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4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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