In the Presence of the Enemy by Elizabeth George

‘In the Presence of the Enemy’ is Elizabeth George’s 8th Inspector Linley novel and the twists and turns of the story and quality of the writing had me reading well into the night on this one.

Charlotte Bowen is the 10 year old daughter of Eve Bowen – the undersecretary of State and a very high profile junior minister in the Tory government. Eve is completely focused on her career and even tipped by some to be the next Margaret Thatcher. Even her daughter is just a tool to get her where she wants to go. She and Dennis Luxford are the only ones who know that Luxford is Charlotte’s father. If this became public knowledge, Eve’s high flying career would be over. Because Dennis Luxford is the ‘king of sleaze’, he is the Editor of a muck-raking, anti-Tory tabloid.

When Charlotte is kidnapped, Luxford receives a note asking him to publish the story of Charlotte’s conception. Eve believes that the kidnap is a plot by Luxford to further embarrass the Tories and destroy Eve’s career. She will not allow the story to be published and instead turns to Simon St James who along with Helen and Deborah investigates the kidnapping. She will not even allow the kidnapping to be reported to the police.

Disaster strikes and DI Thomas Linley finally finds himself involved in the case. With events spread between Wiltshire and London, DS Barbara Havers handles the Wiltshire end, and sees this as an opportunity to make her mark.

Events become more and more complicated both in London and in Wiltshire. Havers is her usual anti-social self and manages to alienate most of the Wiltshire police except for the charming young Robin Payne. Could this be the beginning of something special for Havers?

Eventually some accidental detective work leads to the kidnapper, but not before the situation reaches crisis point for Havers.


This was another extremely enjoyable and complex mystery in the series. As usual, much of the story was devoted to the relationships between the characters. I won’t say anything about the on-again-off-again relationship between Linley and Helen Clyde as this would be a huge spoiler, but I’m looking forward to reading about further developments in the next book in the series – ‘Deception on his Mind’.


Book Published 1996


See a full list of books by Elizabeth George

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