With No One As Witness
by
Elizabeth George

Review of Book
I am glad that I saw this great unwieldy tome through to the end, because in spite of feeling irritated with many aspects of Elizabeth George's writing for most of the time, towards the end (and only towards the end) I was totally gripped.

My irritation came not only from groaning under the sheer weight of so much detail, description and the number of characters (I counted 52 in just the abridgement alone), but her overuse of the London A-Z as if she needed to prove her credibility. Some of the dialogue made me wince in embarrassment and my reaction to the background of some of the sub-plots, was an incredulous, "Oh puuhlease.."

The main plot then is about the hunt for a psychopathic, ritualistic serial killer of mixed-race, adolescent boys (oh yawn) in London. Though with all of Elizabeth George's information you do get a sense of the hundreds of foot-slogging, tedious hours following up each line of enquiry, however small, police work involves - most of which goes nowhere.

But as I've said, by the end I was completely involved in the tragedy of the back story, even to the point of tears and feeling rather wrung out so that I could quite understand the outcry by loyal Elizabeth George fans.


Review of Nat's Reading
Another reason I'm glad to have read the entire book is that the abridgement of the audio that Nat reads is very poor indeed. Presumably the remit was to focus on the crimes, but in doing so the details of the private lives of Lynley and Havers, that give insights into their character are missing. There are also some crucial scenes and detail edited out, that totally loses for the listener the impact of what happens later.

Many of the lines of dialogue conveying the pressures and interference from Lynley's superiors are also cut out, so you just don't get the mounting and escalating tension and the weight of the case pressing in on Lynley, that you can actually feel in the book.

And as for the crimes themselves, there are lots of annoying loose ends and small but important clues in Elizabeth George's writing that are left out of the audio, again making it very frustrating and unsatisfactory for the listener.

Off the soapbox then..

Nat's efforts. Well.. brilliant as always, frankly! In spite of the above negative thoughts, it's always a pleasure to hear him read, whatever it is - he could make the shipping forecast or the stocks and shares page sound interesting.... And it's faintly amusing to hear him take the part of Havers as well as Lynley this time.

But the most striking thing is his Black/Afro/Caribbean voices, both male and female. They are just incredible. After recording so many books, accents and voices, he can still come up with something new.

It's not just exchanging a "tink" for a "think", but the whole cadence, inflection and rhythm, that actually were not even in the text. Nat is just in there, as that character, be it a West Indian low-life pimp or a preacher from Africa. Very impressive for an upper-middle-class boy! I often found myself shaking my head in disbelief and asking, "How on earth does he do that..?!"



Published by
Harper Audio
ISBN 1840328778 (CD)
184032726X (Cassette)
June 2005
Abridged version
Running time 6hrs approx

NB: In my copy, Nat's name appears as the reader on the front cover, but on the actual CDs, the name of Simon Jones has been mistakenly printed. Also on some online sites the reader on the cover picture is also in error.

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