In the Presence of the Enemy

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

IN THE PRESENCE OF THE ENEMY takes simple human fallibility to tragic proportions. Young Charlotte Bowen has been kidnapped. In lieu of ransom, publisher Dennis Luxford must announce on the front page of his tabloid newspaper that he fathered the child a decade earlier in a loveless tryst with Eve Bowen, who is now a rising politician. Eve fights the revelation, believing that Luxford engineered the kidnapping to embarrass her and to increase his paper’s circulation. Her callous refusal to cooperate places several lives in jeopardy.

Ultimately New Scotland Yard enters the case, with personal repercussions for all involved. The quagmires of deceit and betrayal that pass for relationships in the case force Inspector Lynley to reevaluate his own commitment to Lady Helen Clyde. Detective Sergeant Barbara Havers, on the brink of both professional success and personal fulfillment, finds she must sacrifice one or the other. Forensic scientist Simon Allcourt-St. James and his wife Deborah, frustrated with their attempts to conceive a child, risk emotional estrangement as he immerses himself in grisly evidence.

George weaves such hot-button issues as tabloid politics, homosexuality, abortion, and child abuse into an enthralling narrative whose clues and red herrings are equally plausible. Readers of George’s previous novels may think they detect familiar touches, but her quirks and innuendos will keep fans and newcomers alike guessing.