Kathy Davie's Reviews > A Place of Hiding

A Place of Hiding by Elizabeth  George
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's review
Jan 10, 2012

it was amazing
bookshelves: history, mystery

Twelfth in the Inspector Lynley mystery series with this particular installment revolving around Deborah and Simon St. James in the Channel Islands.

My Take
Oh, what a twisty tale George weaves this time around! It's one of the few times I've had to rethink my own particular mantra that knowledge is power for in this case, knowledge is death.

It took me forever to read---George has really stretched this out with an excess of pounding Guy's perfidies into us---and she had me swinging from one character to another as the villain. The end, when it came, was so appropriate on the major points and so incredibly sad on a minor one. It seemed too true and yet I wanted it not to be. Dissatisfying in some ways and very fulfilling in others.

I just want to smack Deborah over her depression about the opening night! What does she expect when the weather is so lousy!?? Yes, I'd be disappointed as well but I would lay the blame on the weather and not on assuming that my art is terrible!

The nasty side of me really wanted to see more hurt piled on that horrible mother! Gawd, how clueless can she be!!? Actually, she does provide an excellent example (and reason) for me to attempt to be a better person. When you see how miserable she makes herself let alone everyone around her. And Ruth. How could Ruth allow Guy to destroy so many people? Did she think it was okay because they were the ones who survived alone of their family during the war?

The history of the Germans' invasion of the Channel Islands is a fascinating peek into the past with its own particular twist while the Ouseleys' disappointment just breaks your heart.

Through it all, it continues to amaze me how much people will keep hidden away from the police in hopes that the horror of others won't touch them.

The Story
Always so easily led, Cherokee talks his sister China into traveling with him to deliver architectural plans to a client who lives in Guernsey. A man so charming with such a beautiful estate that its architecture entices China into making a pitch to Guy Brouard to allow her to photograph his home for a magazine. A pitch that leads to murder.

There's the Ouseleys and their excitement over the future Graham Ouseley Wartime Museum. A showcase that would present the memorabilia Frank and his father had accumulated throughout their lives to remind the islanders as well as its visitors what the Channel Islands had endured. The bravery as well as the cowardice. That all might know who was a collaborator and who was a patriot.

For Guy Brouard was the patron saint on Guernsey supporting the museum, Henry's glassblowing art, Nobby Debiere's architectural aspirations, Anäis Abbott's fantasies of a life of ease as well as Cynthia's dreams of a bridal state, providing Paul with a refuge, even Margaret's bossy expectations.

Deborah is depressed over her art. The opening night for the show upon which she pinned so much is a failure and now she wonders if it's worth any more of her life, her time to even consider continuing. So in some ways, it's a blessing when Cherokee shows up that night on their doorstep drenched. China is in trouble! Her friend. The friend who stood by her when she needed support and Deborah must go to her. Must help her. She can at last repay this aid and Simon would help.

With Guy's death, China River is tailor-made as the murderess.

The Characters
Deborah St. James spent a few years in California, a time when she underwent a traumatic event when she lost the baby she had conceived with Tommy Lynley. Drawn together by a mutual love for photography, only China River stood her friend at this time of great emotional need. A dynamic, in-demand forensic scientist, Simon St. James feels so isolated from his adored wife. Not having shared this short but intense time of her life when he had known her almost all his life. Not knowing these people and feeling the insecurity of it.

China and Cherokee River share a mother more concerned with the environment and her causes than her children. China's father spent more time in jail than near her while Cherokee was and is an opportunist with no concern for anyone other than himself. A fact that leads to his potential doom. A successful commercial photographer, China led a blind life of hope. Hope that Matthew Whitcomb and she could build a life. Together. Roger Holberry is China's advocate on Guernsey.

Ruth Brouard is a survivor. She and her brother Guy fled Paris when the Nazis were coming and never again saw any of the family that remained. Instead her brother thrived and built his financial empire even as he sought desperately for the one, the love of his life. Now, Ruth is barely surviving as the cancer eats into her body even as she struggles to finish the Bayeux-like tapestry she is creating of their escape. Guy Brouard adores his sister and will always take care of her even as he destroys the lives of those who surround them. For Guy is a man who promises much.

Paul Fielder is the young man whom Guy has taken on as a Big Brother-type arrangement. Paul is a bit slow but big in heart and everyone at Le Reposoir has taken him to their own hearts. A good thing as his family is too poor and too self-absorbed in their own miseries. Most of the time. He and his dog Taboo are inseparable. Billy is Paul's nasty bully of an older brother. Valerie and Kevin Duffy are the housekeeper and groundskeeper at Le Reposoir. Seemingly happy, they each have their worries only one of whose George satisfies for us.

Margaret Chamberlain is Guy's first wife and never has she allowed anyone, especially their son Adrian Brouard, to ever forget it. She's the type of woman you just love to hate. I'm surprised Adrian hasn't murdered her for she has tied him to her apron strings so tightly that she has destroyed his life. I wished I could simply rip her out of the pages and put her through the shredder! Anäis Abbott is/was Guy's very hopeful mistress with her daughter Jemima and her son Stephen. It's rather sad that her young son is the most clearsighted of the trio.

Graham and Frank Ouseley are father and son joined by the twin need to present their hoard of German invasion memorabilia. The need to remind the world what the Channel Islands suffered during World War II when the Germans invaded and tried to destroy its inhabitants. Bertrand "Nobby" Debiere designed a very practical museum for the Ouseleys going out on a limb to set up his own office with Guy's encouragement; he also provides a breaking clue to Simon. Henry Moullin is the glassmaker and artist Guy has singled out for patronage and encouraged to set up a glassblowing furnace; Henry has a daughter, Cynthia.

Detective Chief Inspector Le Gallez is in charge of Guy's murder case and too easily accepts China as the murderer without motive as he ignores the motives of so many others.

Inspector Thomas Lynley, the earl and his countess, Lady Helen who is two-months pregnant make a cameo appearance.

The Cover
The gray overcast sky on the cover has a very lonely feel to it with the sea washing onto the empty shore, a trail of one person's footprints leading away, pointing up the isolated nature of the stretch of sand upon which one man met his end.

The title encompasses so many of the characters in this story who each need A Place of Hiding.

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