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A Traitor to Memory [Mass Market Paperback]

Elizabeth George
2.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (165 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Aug. 27 2002
When Eugenie Davies is killed by a driver on a quiet London street, her death is clearly no accident. Someone struck her with a car and then deliberately ran over her body before driving off, leaving nothing behind but questions.

What brought Eugenie Davies to London on a rainy autumn night? Why was she carrying the name of the man who found her body? Who among the many acquaintances in her complicated and tragic life could have wanted her dead? And could her murder have some connection to a twenty-eight-year-old musical wunderkind, a virtuoso violinist who several months earlier suddenly and inexplicably lost the ability to play a single note?

For Detective Inspector Thomas Lynley, whose own domestic life is about to change radically, these questions are only the first in an investigation that leads him to walk a fine line between personal loyalty and professional honor.

Assigned to the case by his superior, Superintendent Malcolm Webberly, Lynley learns that Webberly's first murder investigation as a DI over twenty years ago involved Eugenie Davies and a sensational criminal trial. Yet what is truly damaging is what Webberly already knows and no doubt wants Lynley to keep concealed.

Now the pressure is on Lynley to find Eugenie Davies' killer. For not only is he putting his own career into jeopardy, but he is also attempting to safeguard the careers of his longtime partners Barbara Havers and Winston Nkata. Together, they must untangle the dark secrets and darker passions of a family whose history conceals the truth behind a horrific crime.


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Families can be monstrous and their secrets dangerous, as New Scotland Yard detectives Thomas Lynley and Barbara Havers have discovered. The pair are puzzled that the Hampstead police need their help investigating the vehicular murder of a middle-aged divorcée, until they find evidence that one of their own superiors once knew the dead lady very well indeed. But the circumstances of Eugenie Davies's murder appear to center on her children: Gideon, a famous violinist now undergoing psychoanalysis for his sudden inability to play, and the long-dead Sonia, a disabled baby whose drowning death was shrouded in secrecy for her virtuoso brother's sake--at the insistence of their father, Richard--but also trumpeted in the press as the infamous "nanny murder" of its day. The nanny, Katja Wolff, has recently been released from prison, having never spoken of the night Sonia drowned. Lynley, Havers, and their colleague Winston Nkata know that whatever secret Katja Wolff has been hiding must be the cause of Eugenie Davies's death, but before they can find out what it is, another deliberate hit-and-run occurs in their own backyard.

The suspects are many: Wolff; Eugenie's most recent suitor; her ne'er-do-well brother; Gideon's longtime mentor, who kept in contact with Eugenie in the years after she abandoned her husband and son; and a gentleman of many monikers who boarded with the family at the time of the drowning. Even Richard Davies, the dead woman's ex-husband, is under suspicion. But it's violinist Gideon Davies's quest into his family's past, undertaken to save his career, that sets the book's events in motion. His own telling of the story runs parallel to the author's own voice but is time-shifted. Along with the details of the police investigation, this paints a disturbing picture of what happens when the truth is obscured and a child's normal instincts sublimated.

A Traitor to Memory is massive, and it's hard not to spot a few flaws in a plot so complex. The dual narratives force abnormally slow reading, the motive for one murder and two near-murders is inexplicably glossed over, and many doughty Lynley/Havers fans will still wonder by the end what exactly happened in Sonia's bathroom. Yet Elizabeth George orchestrates the family-secrets theme like a maestro, and at least one of the second-chair players--such as Katja Wolff's beautiful, scarred lover Yasmine Edwards--may be a rising star in the series. George's fans will no doubt find this 11th entry in the series worthy of a standing ovation. --Barrie Trinkle --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

HClassical music, cybersex and vehicular homicide figure prominently in this sprawling epic, the latest in the bestselling Thomas Lynley series that has won George an enviable following on both sides of the Atlantic. This can only add to her growing reputation as doyenne of English mystery novelists. When Eugenie Davies is killed on a London street struck by a car, then viciously mangled as the driver backs over her Detective Inspector Lynley investigates. The suspects include J.W. Pichley, aka TongueMan, a cyber-roue with a penchant for older women; Katja Wolff, convicted murderess of Davies's infant daughter; and Major Ted Wiley, a bookstore proprietor in love with Davies. Inevitably, the trail leads to the dead woman's son, Gideon, a former child prodigy on the violin, now a renowned virtuoso suddenly and inexplicably unable to play a single note. Lynley and his longtime partners, Barbara Havers and Winston Nkata, unravel the mystery in their inimitable fashion, as the narrative turns backward, ever backward, in search of clues. Although some plot developments are initially confusing due to the book's occasionally non-linear style, the author's handling of narrative is consistently inventive. There are some amusing character sketches (including the skewering of an American Valley Girl to whom classical music is as foreign as Sanskrit) and some particularly moving moments. Faithful readers of George's previous mysteries should find this the most ambitious of the lot. (July 3)Forecast: With the BBC adaptation of the first Lynley case, A Great Deliverance, due to premier on U.S. TV this fall, George stands to scale new heights in sales.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Favorite Elizabeth George mystery Dec 3 2003
By A Customer
Format:Mass Market Paperback
This is the best one yet. So, many separate character lines! I have lost so much sleep! I can't put it down!!!!!!!! As she develops each person's story I am so engrossed that I'm almost angry when the story switches to another person, but then that plot development is too interesting to leave it. (If I had to find any fault it would be that I just didn't care about Helen's pregnancy.)
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Masterpiece Feb. 4 2003
Format:Mass Market Paperback
This is without question George's masterpiece, dense and complicated, gorgeously written, superbly plotted. No-one is as good as she at dropping bombshells (in this case, practically at the end of each chapter) which completely send the story in opposite directions to where the reader thought it was going. George always keeps you on your toes, but at no time in her career has she done so as brilliantly and masterfully as she does here. Could the book have been shorter? Of course. But I loved losing myself in the vastness and complexity of the plot. To be fair, I have found George boring and a little too in love with her own voice at times, but surprisingly not in this, her largest book. Start it, stick with it, you won't be sorry you did.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Format:Mass Market Paperback
~ - ~
~ ~First, naturally, the lowdown for addicts of the Inspector Lynley/Sergeant Havers series: If you are a fan of Sergeant Barbara Havers, like I, you may be disappointed. She has a very small role in this story. However, we do come to know Inspector Lynley's other assistant, Winston Nkata, who does have an interesting and difficult role in the story. Tommy Lynley also, is facing some changes in his personal life.
This story focuses less on the detectives than many of the others in the series. Most of the story is seen through the eyes of a member of the family close to the crime. A young violinist, who has had a career as a prodigy, is suddenly unable to play. He is searching his soul and his memory for reasons for this block. He unearths much more than he expected, the history of a death in his family when he was just a child. Does he remember anything about it? Or are the faint memories that begin, and he clings to, as much fabrication as the stories he's been told? This becomes critical has murder strikes his family again, now in the present.
~ ~ This George mystery is much more focused on an individual close to the crime than the others in the series. In this respect, it is more like "Playing for the Ashes" than more recent novels.
While less focus on the detectives was a little disappointing to me as a Havers fan, this was still a fascinating story. As always, her strength is in showing the complexity of the best and worst of human motives. She fills her stories with people we would love to hate, if they weren't so uncomfortably human, and full of some of the same faults we could find in ourselves. All in all, an absorbing read. 5 stars *****!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover
Is a real pager turner with its many surprising twists and turns. Love this writer, love this story, and I so look forward to her next book! I read a lot of the long-winded reviews of 'A Traitor to Memory,' and I have to say a few of them were almost as long as the book with their book-bashing remarks, and I completely disagree with what they had to say; 'the story, the writing and the plot being a bad write'! Not true, Ms. George's novel, is a compelling, and intriguing mystery well worth the read! Buy the book and see for yourself!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb. A Big Book in Every Way Nov. 26 2001
Format:Hardcover
Wow!
was my final thought as I read the final line of Elizabeth George's latest novel. I have never read such a long book which seemed to pass so quickly. This book, in paperback, will be about 850 pages, and to this date will be the longest book I've read (but i Am only 15, so i have a lot more opportunity to enlarge upon that figure.) The 664 pages passed (i am referring to the English edition) as if in the flicker of an eyelid. i was expecting to be busy for at least a week while reading this book. It is her largest so far, tipping the scale at a massive page number, and God knows how many words. And every moment of it was pure pleasure. It is probably one of the best book's I've read this year.
Elizabeth george's writing continues to astound me. Her prose is so beautiful. It's complicated, yet infinitely understandable. Her characters are all drawn superbly, they're realistic, not always likeable, yet always interesting. I for one do get tired of the constant passages concerning the lives of Lyley, Havers, and the St James's, in many of her other novels. However, in this book she backs away from them, and concentrated much more on her other characters, and is clearly making Gideon Davies the star.
I found this book SO hard to put down. There were twists and turns a-plenty, and her psychological perception is so astute. The fact she has a psychology Ph.D is obvious. The psychlogy is better than that of Minette Walters books. (which is something i never thought I'd come to say)
It was such an interesting book, on every level. The psychology of the characters was fascinating (I'll try and stop using the "p" word now, ive used it about five times thus far) and just that fact kept me ploughing on, waiting for more of the personal revelations.
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Most recent customer reviews
2.0 out of 5 stars Too Long for nothing
Book 11 in the Inspector Lynley series

"A traitor to Memory" is a complex novel, large in scope and one that encompasses the psyches of many of its characters. Read more
Published on June 30 2011 by Toni Osborne
3.0 out of 5 stars GREAT
This is the first Elizabeth George book I had read, it won't be the last. This is a very well written book and the characters are well developed. Read more
Published on Jan. 1 2010 by caseygirl
2.0 out of 5 stars An Usatisfactory Ending
The ending of the book was most unsatisfying for me. Libby didn't behave as her character did throughout the book. Read more
Published on July 5 2004 by S. Rupp
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing Addition to a Great Series
A hit-and-run driver kills Eugenie Davies on a rainy night in London. Superintendent Webberly has a special interest in the victim and assigns Detective Lynley and Constable... Read more
Published on June 7 2004 by J. Vilches
1.0 out of 5 stars The 1,024 page souffle
That sounds like an oxymoron, I know, but it's the truth. You wonder how a book this laboriously dense can ultimately amount to so little. Read more
Published on March 3 2004 by "vortex87"
4.0 out of 5 stars Good, challenging book.
This is the first book I've read by Elizabeth George. I'm impressed by her ability to write from so many points of view in such an effortless manner. Read more
Published on Feb. 7 2004 by Ledra Sullivan
1.0 out of 5 stars A looonnnng slog - for not much
Verbose, too many sub-plots, annoying, snivelling characters...So much potential wasted on a tale that didn't seem to have a center holding it together. Read more
Published on Dec 9 2003
3.0 out of 5 stars A Traitor to Readers
I've read several of Ms. George's novels and marvel at her skill with the English language, her knowledge of a broad spectrum of British society, and her defense of right vs. Read more
Published on Nov. 11 2003 by H. Harper
2.0 out of 5 stars A doorstopper
I really should give this 2.5 stars-- George's skill at unraveling the mystery is balanced out by the book's bloatedness. Read more
Published on Nov. 9 2003 by Simon Crowe
3.0 out of 5 stars Very Disappointing Entry for Great Series
As a huge fan of the Lynley/Havers books, who has read every one in order, I am saddened to write a bad review. Read more
Published on Oct. 27 2003 by Jeffrey Davenport
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