Fiction" - A Book Review by Alex Grant
A Traitor to Memory Elizabeth George
Review Alex Grant
George's A TRAITOR TO MEMORY (2002) has been published in soft cover
after the North American debut of the BBC TV film version of her
first novel, A GREAT DELIVERANCE in the renowned Thomas Lynley/Barbara
Havers mystery series. Three other BBC TV films based on her first
few novels will be televised shortly.
George's eleventh book in this series is spread over a daunting
one thousand pages, in the Bantam Books edition at $11.99 CAN, released
on August 27th in Canada.
Yet again set in contemporary London, A TRAITOR TO MEMORY proves to be
labyrinthine than any of George's previous ten novels in the series.
The writer leads us tantalizingly by an elusive thread, like Theseus to
the Minotaur. We follow suit, fascinated and enthralled by the intricate
network of tragic coincidences which may prove to be neither accidents
nor conspiracies. Detective Constable Barbara Havers and her Guv'nor Detective
Inspector Tommy Lynley of New Scotland Yard are asked to collaborate in
the investigation of a sordid vehicular homicide - in point of fact, a
deliberate hit-and-run "accident". Under the scrutiny of Detective
Chief Inspector Eric Leach, himself being monitored by Superintendant
Malcolm Webberly, our detective hero and heroine are flung into a maelstrom
of deceit and distortion.
Twenty years earlier, Eugenie Davies, the victim of the hit-and-run, had
lost her two year old daughter in a tragic bathtub accident. Or, was it
truly an accidental death for little Sonia?
Sonia's surviving older brother, Gideon, is a spoilt and cossetted musical
prodigy. He is embroiled in psychoanalysis to overcome his sudden inability
to perform publicly. He struggles to decipher his confusing childhood
At times A TRAITOR TO MEMORY is too convoluted for its own good.
George is never so crass as to litter her narrative with vicarious red
herrings, yet she does in dealing with highly voluble and vocal characters
tend to indulge high flown chatter at the expense of revealing behaviour.
As an American seeking to depict modern Britons, George is unsurpassed,
But a book of her usual seven-hundred pages would have sufficed.
© Alex Grant September 2002
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