(US, 1949– )
Elizabeth George has written some dozen bestselling crime novels in the English tradition featuring Detective Inspector Thomas Lynley and Sergeant Barbara Havers of New Scotland Yard. The early books dwelt upon the contrast between the downmarket, chain-smoking Havers and the elegant Lynley (an earl, no less). Their slightly anachronistic flavour was only enhanced by the fact that the Ohio-born George didn't get English class quite right, but they are hugely enjoyable despite that (or because of it?). And to be fair, while Lynley may be on the surface no more than a modern version of Dorothy L. Sayers' Lord Peter Wimsey, incest and paedophilia were things with which Wimsey never had to cope. The series started with A Great Deliverance (1989), which remains the best place to start George's work; but in the twelve years since, her densely plotted books have come to focus rather less on Lynley's aristocratic angst. Her most recent, A Traitor to Memory (2001), weighs in at almost seven hundred complex pages. Reflecting the author's background in psychology, it is a strong contemporary detective novel in whichthe murder is only one element of the story.
P. D. James, Ruth Rendell, Dorothy L. Sayers SG