Followers of George's Inspector Lynley series were shocked when his wife, Helen, was killed in George's previous novel, With No One As Witness. In her latest, George approaches that devastating event from a different angle -- the tragic and twisted circumstances that lead a young boy to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. George's excellent prose is vivid, and the dark circumstances surrounding the doomed lives of three mixed-race siblings makes this a sad, disturbing, and all-too-real novel.

When their grandmother abandons them to go to Jamaica with her deported boyfriend, the three Campbell children -- Ness, Joel and Toby -- are dumped into the lap of their Aunt Kendra, who lives in a rough area of London. Overwhelmed, Kendra makes a rudimentary attempt to care for the kids, but she's clearly out of her depth.

Before long Ness develops a drug and alcohol habit, while Joel struggles to look out for Toby. The dangerous neighborhood where these kids live chews up the weak, and before long Joel is forced into a dangerous pact that leads to tragedy. (HARPERCOLLINS, Oct., 544 pp., $26.95)
Reviewed by: 
Jill M. Smith