Elizabeth George became a major player in the crime writer’s world with her first published novel, A Great Deliverance (1988). The book, nominated for the Edgar prize, won Agatha and Anthony awards and Le Grande Prix de Littérature Policière. Although not the first American crime writer to set her novels in the British Isles, George is the only one who so thoroughly captured the details of English life and culture that many British readers of the early novels believed her to be one of them. Knowledge of her nationality came about through interviews and an increasing number of reviews once George’s books became best sellers.
In 1988 George began producing novels at the rate of one per year, honing her skills and evolving as a psychological writer. The development of major and minor characters and the changes in their lives as the series progressed have so touched readers that they have expressed strong, even angry opinions about the writer’s treatment of these characters, particularly after the publication of With No One as Witness (2005).
The subplots in George’s novels usually do not exist simply as red herrings. Ultimately, they emerge as significant connections to the main plot, revealing aspects of characters’ past and present. Her subplots explore the English class system and the racial issues and problems that bubble beneath the surface of daily life in Britain.
According to literary critics, some of whom describe George as “doyenne” and “master,” she not only carries the torch of earlier great female writers, such as Dorothy L. Sayers and P. D. James, but also has advanced the mystery genre to encompass the realities of modern existence.