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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
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.
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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
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 morePublished on Jan. 1 2010 by caseygirl
The ending of the book was most unsatisfying for me. Libby didn't behave as her character did throughout the book. Read morePublished on July 5 2004 by S. Rupp
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 morePublished on June 7 2004 by J. Vilches
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 morePublished on March 3 2004 by "vortex87"
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 morePublished on Feb. 6 2004 by Ledra Sullivan
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 morePublished on Dec 9 2003
This is the best one yet. So, many separate character lines! I have lost so much sleep! I can't put it down!!!!!!!! Read morePublished on Dec 3 2003