Friday, July 1, 2011
"A Traitor to Memory", by Elizabeth George
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. Unlike the previous novels, Lynley and Harvers take a back seat to let Gideon be the star.
I will be brief in my summary; this story is intricate and over 1000 pages, it includes hidden agendas, secrets in the closet and a fair amount of danger.
It opens with the death of Eugenie Davis in a deliberate hit and run "accident". Superintendent Malcom Webberly asks Detective Constable Barbara Havers and Detective Inspector Thomas Lynley of New Scotland Yard to collaborate in the investigation of this gruesome vehicular homicide. Webberly has a special interest in the victim, twenty years earlier; he was the lead investigator in a tragic bathtub drowning of a two year old girl, daughter of Eugenie Davis. Their new investigation leads them to a wealth of suspects and early on they discover solving the present murder requires them to revisit and solve the nagging unanswered questions on Eugenie's daughter's untimely death...
Meanwhile, Gideon, an accomplished violinist also Eugenie's son, is struggling to overcome his sudden brain freeze and inability to play. His therapist takes him through his childhood memories and has him record them in a journal in an effort to stimulate hidden secrets. Unfortunately, this long drawn-out affair offers little to the plot; the never-ending chapters are wordy and considerably slow paced.
This novel is not your usual Ms. George murder and police procedural mystery. It attempts to delve deeper into the human psyche and explores the delicate side of memory frailties, the make believe lies we tell ourselves and the bonds formed within a dysfunctional family. Although it basically remains a whodunit, it is not as captivating as her previous novels. The twists and turns create confusion instead of intrigue and suspense, seeing the whole picture becomes a challenge. The plot has many loose ends, threads were started and dropped, and characters disappeared in limbo leaving a void in continuity. Lynley and Havers played a small role in this investigation and I missed the camaraderie between them and the chemistry they always bring to Ms. George's novels.
There is a difference between 1000 long pages and 1000 exciting pages...need I say more