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"Mystery Fiction" - A Book Review by Alex Grant
A Traitor to Memory Elizabeth George
Review Alex Grant

Elizabeth 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 traumas.

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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