Elizabeth George Analysis


(Masterpieces of Fiction, Detective and Mystery Edition)

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.


(Masterpieces of Fiction, Detective and Mystery Edition)

Brown, Jeremy K. “George, Elizabeth.” Current Biography 61, no. 3 (March, 2000): 59-64. A biography of George that looks at her development as a person and a writer.

Burns, Landon C. “Elizabeth George.” In Great Women of Mystery: Classic to Contemporary, edited by Kathleen Gregory Klein. Westport, Conn.; Greenwood Press, 1994. An essay about George six years into her novelistic career. An introductory essay by the editor speaks of the characteristics of George’s predecessors.

De Witt, Philip Elmer. Review of What Came Before He Shot Her, by Elizabeth George. Time, October 23, 2006, 88. Reviewer of the book finds it an impressive change, brilliant and refreshing.

Dubose, Martha Hailey, with Margaret Caldwell Thomas. Women of Mystery: The Lives and Works of Notable Women Crime Novelists. New York: St. Martin’s Minotaur, 2000. Contains a brief entry on George that describes her works.

George, Elizabeth. Elizabeth George. http://www.elizabethgeorgeonline.com. The author’s Web site provides a short biography of the author, plus information on her novels and upcoming events.

George, Elizabeth. “Plot Twist Murder on Author’s Fans.” Interview by Ben Fox. Palm Beach Post, April 11, 2005, Style section, p. 3. Lengthy interview with the novelist discussing her beginnings and recent reactions of readers to With No One As Witness.

George, Elizabeth. Write Away: One Novelist’s Approach to Fiction and the Writing Life. New York: HarperCollins, 2004. George discusses her approach to writing fiction, which includes disciplining herself to sit and write.

Klein, Kathleen Gregory, ed. Great Women Mystery Writers: Classic to Contemporary. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1994. Contains an essay discussing the life and works of George.

Lindsay, Elizabeth Blakesley, ed. Great Women Mystery Writers. 2d ed. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 2007. Contains an essay on George and her writing.