You won't find Inspector Lynley in Elizabeth George's latest. A departure from her series novels, A PLACE OF HIDING winningly focuses on Deborah St. James and her husband, Simon, supporting characters in her Lynley mysteries.

Brother and sister China and Cherokee River have accepted a commission that takes them to the Island of Guernsey in the English Channel. They are taking an architect's plans to retired hotel owner Guy Brouard, who lives in a restored manor house with his ailing sister, Ruth. Having lost the rest of his family in the Holocaust, Guy is fascinated by the German wartime occupation of Guernsey and is interested in funding a museum for military artifacts found on the island. Many plans and hopes are dashed when Guy is found murdered on a beach after taking his predawn swim.

When the police arrest China, Cherokee appeals to China's old friend Deborah, who is determined to exonerate her. With Guy's death, Ruth has discovered that he lied about trips he made to the States, among other things. Proteges who expected much have been disappointed, and Deborah and Simon try to produce other suspects.

This is a lengthy book with a complex story and characters. The Island itself—especially its World War II occupation—is an important story element. Deborah, in helping her friend, does much soul-searching about her relationship with Simon. Even the minor characters are intriguing, and Guy, dead from the first chapter, looms large throughout. (Aug., 513 pp., $26.95)

Reviewed by: 
Lorraine Gelly