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Bestseller George (With No One as Witness) departs from the usual investigative nuts and bolts of her Thomas Lynley and Barbara Havers mystery thrillers with this searing examination of the lives of one horribly dysfunctional family and their immigrant London milieu. Switching uncomfortably at times from dialogue in a rough patois to exposition in a language both formal and sociological, George delivers a stinging indictment of a society unable to respond effectively to the needs of its poorer citizens. Kendra Osborne, a 40-year-old woman with modest ambitions and plans to achieve them, has no idea how to cope when her mother "dumps" her sister's three children on her doorstep and heads for Jamaica. Fifteen-year-old Ness, 11-year-old Joel and seven-year-old Toby each have a wealth of problems exacerbated by their mixed-race heritage. It's no accident that George refers to Dickens on the first page of this earnest but perhaps overly didactic novel, which focuses on the burdens borne by Joel as he's swept by forces he can neither understand nor control into a fatal encounter. 8-city author tour. (Oct.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
This vividly wrenching tale preludes the weird, homicidal ending of George's last novel, With No One as Witness (series fans will be disappointed that Thomas Lynley and Barbara Havers are absent here). The story begins as three mixed-race English children whose father is dead and whose mother is mentally ill are dumped on their Aunt Kendra by their maternal grandmother. Ness, 15, is one step away from crack-whoredom; Toby, seven, is psychologically troubled and one step away from institutionalization; Joel, 12, is the noble middle child who shoulders responsibilities and soldiers on, unaware of the futility of his efforts. Kendra, no heroine, is by turns distracted and ambivalent about the children; she seems neither concerned nor surprised at their communal desperation. The unerring bleakness of their community, governed by drug dealers and poverty, and the overall ugliness of this family's accidentally meshed lives will be enough to put most listeners off this depressing chronicle of almost total despair. Though Donada Peters admirably captures the accents of the street, libraries should order only on request.-Douglas C. Lord, Connecticut State Lib., Hartford Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.