So, how does George write a looooong novel without padding? With these elements:
- a sub-plot where one villain's previous crime [a child murder than mirrors a real-life British murder] which impinges on the current London murder of a "missing person" in another part of Britain;
- the complications of Thomas Lynley, the major detective, returning to his old crime unit while still coping with his wife's murder and a new supervisor, who's auditioning for his old temporary position;
- a sub-plot involving his old partner, who the new supervisor is pushing to look more professional, and a change in the relationship with her ethnic neighbors. [Dress is a point of humor for long-time readers of the series.]
- several possible villains, including three from the previous child murder, who are investigated by various members of Lynley's old unit; and
- several people who add facts and observations about the murder, including several red herrings and a busybody who gums up the works.
I should mention that Writer's Digest did another best of the web section for 2011.