Elizabeth George

The publication of A Great Deliverance signalled the arrival of a formidable crime-writing talent. Though the structure of Georgeís nine novels often echoes that of the traditional whodunnit, she is a natural storyteller with the knack of generating tension. Her best writing packs considerable emotional impact. Her main series characters are Detective Inspector Lynley (who is posh) and Detective Sergeant Barbara Havers (who isnít). Her latest novel, Deception on His Mind, takes a jaundiced look at racism in an Essex seaside town.

So far, so very good. But Georgeís novels pose an unintended problem for British readers.

She is an American and, despite much research, her grasp of British mores is often shaky. Characters have a tendency to lasp into Californian psychobabble in moments of stress.

Lynley, a belted earl with a Bentley, is an anachronistic protagonist who sometimes addresses his tilted girlfriend as "Lady Helen".

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