Book Review: Elizabeth George’s In the Presence of the Enemy

Posted April 22, 2011 by Kathy Davie in Book Reviews

I received this book for free from my own shelves in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Book Review: Elizabeth George’s In the Presence of the Enemy

In the Presence of the Enemy


Elizabeth George

detective mystery, mystery in a paperback edition that was published by Bantam on May 5, 1997 and has 656 pages.

Explore it on Goodreads or Amazon.

Other books by this author which I have reviewed include A Great Deliverance, Payment in Blood, Well-Schooled in Murder, A Suitable Vengeance, For the Sake of Elena, Missing Joseph, Deception on His Mind, In Pursuit of the Proper Sinner, A Traitor to Memory, A Place of Hiding, Playing for the Ashes

Eighth in the Inspector Lynley detective mystery series revolving around Detective Inspector Thomas Lynley and his partner, Detective Sergeant Barbara Havers.

My Take

What an assortment of characters we have here. There’s the cold-hearted politician who should never have had children. The idiot mother seeking to put a gloss on her youth. The oversexed male seeking confidence any way he can. All wrapped up in the reasons why we need policemen in our lives, asking them for miracles while requiring them to make the necessary coldhearted decisions.

In the Presence of the Enemy is aptly named and begins with a kidnapping which rapidly introduces us to the machinations of politics. It seems selfishness is a major part of political life. Well, it does make sense when one’s own Party stands ready to stab one in the back. And, yet, shouldn’t humanity be a part of political life? It seems that Bowen never possessed any, and when that realization sinks in to the other half…lord, it never is realized on her part. Poor sap.

The investigation is begun by Simon, Deborah, and Helen; it seems as though we won’t be seeing Tommy or Barbara at all until we get a good chunk into the story. At which point, Tommy blows it with his friends and Helen. Sort of, compared to what George has put Lynley through in the past, this is rather off-hand in the way George has Simon, Deb, and Helen react. Simon does have the right attitude toward it and he is, probably, the main reason Tommy gets off as lightly as he does.

Not everyone is as lucky as Tommy. Havers has her schizoid encounter while Eve certainly gets a comeuppance let alone Charlie’s experience — part of me thinks Charlie is better off without her mother except for Alex’s presence in her life. He was probably the only good thing in it; she certainly was for him. Leo goes through quite a bit [lucky young chap to have Fiona for his mother] before his father finally gets it…idiot.

While it’s never a good thing for a child to die, I think things turn out quite all right for everyone concerned.

The Cover

The cover, for all its abstract feel, is a representation of the last act with its stone walls and stone stairs curving up inside a tower. Another instance of the cover artist not reading the story. Fine, use a castle…in this case, a dungeon would have been a much better fit.