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Twelve-year-old Joel Campbell's father was gunned down by thugs, and his mother is confined to a mental institution. Joel and his siblings live with an unwelcoming aunt in a dangerous part of London. His 15-year-old sister, Vanessa, is trading sexual favors for drugs, and his eight-year-old brother, Toby, spends much of his time in an imaginary world called Sose. To gain protection for his vulnerable little brother, Joel gets involved with the Blade, a vicious neighborhood drug dealer. Joel is the boy who, at the end of George's last novel, With No One as Witness, was arrested in the shooting death of Det. Peter Lynley's wife, Helen. This is an unusual sequel in that, rather than taking up where the last book left off, with the expected cast of characters-Barbara Havers, Winston Nkata, and Peter Lynley-it veers off to tell Joel's story. It's not the Lynley/Havers mystery some fans may be expecting, but it's a gripping story that, without preachiness, shows how a good child can lose his way. Highly recommended. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 6/15/06.]-Jane la Plante, Minot State Univ. Lib., ND Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

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.

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