I am a passionate Elizabeth George fan and when my husband came home with a belated birthday present of her latest book, Just one evil act, I was overjoyed. Unfortunately life got in the way and Inspector Lynley sat on my bedside table for a few weeks while I juggled a crisis at work,flu and end of term concerts. Once I started it was a bit like watching a train wreck, you want to look away and at the same time you have to know what happens.
This riveting tale of love, betrayal and how an innocent little girl is caught up in the affairs of the adults who love her is one that is heartbreaking and so well told. Hadiyyah, the daughter of Barbara Havers' neighbour, disappears with her mother and nothing can be done, as Taymullah Azhar's name does not appear on the child's birth certificate and they were never married. A private detective is hired but the trail goes cold. Six months later Hadiyyah is kidnapped in an Italian market place and Angelina rushes back to England with her new lover to confront Taymullah, who is as shocked as she is at the child's disappearance.
In her inimitable fashion Barbara Havers plunges in to help Taymullah find his daughter, at the risk of losing her career and her friendship with Lynley. Nothing in this tale is really as it seems and as new secrets come to light Barbara is plunged deeper and deeper into conflict with her superiors. There is also a twist in the tale that I never saw coming but Elizabeth George has this gift of keeping her readers entranced to the last page.
Just one act of evil also sees Lynley finally saying goodbye to Helen and entering into a new romance.
I enjoy Elizabeth George's novels not only because she writes so well or because her plots are so well researched and believable but mainly because her characters are so rich. You grieve with Lynley when his wife dies and feel Barbara's anguish when faced with Taymullah's betrayal. I really hate finishing one of George's books as I know there will be a long wait until the next one is published. However, I know that the wait will be worth it.
If there is only one good novel you read this year, make it this one.