The most tedious of Elizabeth George's novels so far. The most unbelievable, the worst plotted, and the novel with the most foreseeable ending. In between a child's abduction and the when-is-it-finally-going-to-end ending, George's heroine Barabara Havers and the people around her engage in a slew of highly criminal activity. The story leaves me shaking my head at the motives and feelings of her characters, laugh out loud at the lengths they go to and the criminal activity a "good" police officer is supposed to engage in - all for a good cause, of course. But, oh reader, the ending, the ending. If the plot is implausible and confusing, the characters fufil every clichee of love, lust, envy, and you-have-it-not, the end is laughable. Mysteriously, after snouting to the gutter press, betraying Lynley and every decent cop around her, getting her superiors into calamity, Havers returns to England after having saved her friend and his daughter, only to be slapped on the wrist and forgiven for yet another novel. While she is in Italy, chasing the real murderer and saving the world, she gets flashes of very unlike Barabara thoughts, e.g. "the piazza XYZ was a terrorist's wet dream" and such like thoughts about the quality of the coffee, the education of people she encounters, etc. George is bent on making us believe how down to earth her heroine is, when in actuality she has these very intellectual, well expressed and original thoughts about , well, everything. Barbara, you can't be a dumpy riff-raff and ponder the antiquities in such an intellectually well-thought way... While Ms George is trying hard to impress the corruption of Italian copy, the old-fashioned Italian hierarchical society structure (cop lives with his mummy) etc, she doesn't leave out an Englishman/American single cliché about Italy. To make matters worse, she is at the same time trying very hard to show off her knowledge about la dolce vita and the language. Totally unneccessarily, she includes lengths and lengths of meaningless Italian exchanges. Makes me feel very much as if she is trying to prove something about herself. It certainly doesn't do anything positive for readers, especially those who may not understand the meaningless natter. For thos who do, it's even harder, since they have to read the nonsense twice - once in Italian and then again in the thoughts of the whoever is speaking summarized - in English. I give her two stars because at least I wanted to know for sure what I had known since they did the filming scene of the parents of the missing child (hint, hint). As is Lynley with his super powers would have missed that. Personal opinion (as all the above is): George used to do really interesting psychological novels. Not the last one, not this one. Her best days seem over.