Review

A Place of Hiding

by Elizabeth George



A PLACE OF HIDING opens with Deborah and Simon St. James bidding
goodnight to their guests, Helen Clyde and Thomas Lynley. A few
minutes later, the doorbell rings. Deborah is shocked to discover
Cherokee River, the brother of her friend and American roommate
China River, on her doorstep. With no prompting he tells the couple
that he has come to ask for help. His sister has been arrested for
murder and is in a musty jail on the isolated island of Guernsey,
which is situated in the English Channel. He prefaces his story by
taking all responsibility for her trouble. His explanation is long
and complicated but very convincing. Thus, by the time he's
finished, Deborah feels duty-bound to drop everything and help
them.

Simon is not as eager to get involved and he's not about to let
Deborah go off with a charismatic and handsome young man, about
whom he knows nothing. The stakes grow exponentially once the
threesome land on Guernsey and each damning puzzle piece starts to
fit into place. China River has been charged with the grizzly
murder of Guy Brouard, the richest and most influential man on the
island. He and his sister immigrated to the Channel Island, where
he chose a very pubic life and spread his money around. Ruth
Brouard, on the other hand, preferred to live a quiet and more
private life.

Their wealth and lifestyles separated them from most of the
population, but they felt a spiritual connection to this island's
populace because they too were victims of the Holocaust. One of the
island's war heroes owned an extraordinary collection of
memorabilia. He, his son and Brouard were planning a World War II
museum to honor those who were at the mercy of the Nazis during
occupation.

Simon tries to convince Le Gallez, the investigator in charge of
the murder, that many islanders, even some who were part of the
plans for the memorial, are much more likely to have killed Brouard
than China River. However, not a shred of evidence emerges against
them. But Simon is relentless, determined to find anyone who might
have a motive for wanting Brouard dead. Still, the inspector has no
interest in looking beyond his current prisoner; for him, the case
has been solved. How and why China River became the prime suspect
is the matrix for this multilayered, well-plotted and highly
suspenseful novel.

A PLACE OF HIDING is a complex and absorbing tale populated with
interesting and chameleon-like characters. At first, fans may be
surprised that Helen Clyde and Thomas Lynley make fast cameo
appearances, while Barbara Havers isn't mentioned at all. After
all, George has built her reputation with eleven previous books
featuring those stars. Until now, Deborah and Simon St. James have
played supporting roles in those novels. But as they take center
stage in this one, they are strong, fully realized characters who
carry the tale on able shoulders. Through them, George "looks
unflinchingly at the emotional and psychological composition of her
characters to weave a compelling … suspenseful
narrative."

All of George's novels feature a large cast, the members of whom
are carefully limned. But they are plot propelled and their mission
is to catch a killer. In A PLACE OF HIDING George shifts that focus
a bit. Here, she allows for inner dialogue and soul searching.
Deborah and Simon are forced to confront the tensions in their
May-December marriage and come to terms (or not) with their
differences. Also, Deborah must re-think her place in the world and
tame her own demons. However, none of this takes anything away from
the mystery that surrounds Brouard's murder. As a matter of fact,
the need to re-evaluate themselves reaches beyond the St. James's
as other islanders are forced to take a good look at their own
lives, motives and actions.

Elizabeth George is an American with an uncanny ability to capture
the landscape and ambience of her "English world." Her British
characters are always painted with perfect strokes. Her narratives
are exceptional. Not many writers of series characters allow the
second string to come forward and play the leads. But George is
such a strong writer and her ensemble so talented and diverse that
A PLACE OF HIDING loses nothing with Deborah and Simon St. James at
the helm. Readers will find themselves totally smitten with the
couple and cheer them on. A surprise ending adds to the
verisimilitude of the story and offers satisfying relief. This book
is a keeper and one not to miss.

Reviewed by Barbara Lipkien Gershenbaum on January 22, 2011

A Place of Hiding
by Elizabeth George

  • Publication Date: August 3, 2004
  • Genres: Fiction, Mystery
  • Mass Market Paperback: 800 pages
  • Publisher: Bantam
  • ISBN-10: 0553582372
  • ISBN-13: 9780553582376