‘What Came Before He Shot Her’ is not strictly part of the Inspector Linley Series, but describes the events leading up to the tragedy at the end of book 13 – ‘With No One as Witness’ where Linley’s pregnant wife Helen was shot and killed by 12 year old Joel Campbell.
Joel and his siblings Ness and Toby are new to North Kensington and trying to find a way to fit in. Their father is dead and their mother is in a mental institution, so they have been living with their grandmother. But, she’s had enough and is heading for Jamaica, so she dumps the three Campbell children on an aunt without any warning.
15 year old Ness reacts by seeking drugs, sex and the wild life. 8 year old Toby retreats into his own world. 12 year old Joel is the one who ends up trying to hold the family together while his aunt (who has the best of intentions) is left floundering.
When Toby gets harassed by a local gang of bullies, Joel does what he can to protect him. When he realises that the bullies won’t stop, he decides to make a deal with an even bigger bully for protection. But this bully has his own reasons for sending Joel down the wrong path.
Although this book was very well written (as you would expect from Elizabeth George), it was an incredibly depressing book, and a terrible reflection on life for many mixed race people in areas of North London. It was a social commentary rather than a detective novel, so not what I’m used to reading and not what I’d normally choose to read.
The Linley series can be read perfectly well without this book, so if you’re after detective novels, then don’t bother with this one.
I’m looking forward to getting back to the real Inspector Linley series with – ‘Careless in Red’.
Book Published 2006