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Every Contact Leaves A Trace: A Novel Hardcover – May 6, 2013
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“Part meditation on grief and memory, part literary thriller, Dymott’s complex debut is thoughtful and rich in mood…Readers of Gone Girl and The Secret History will be drawn in by its moody contemplation.” (Publishers Weekly)
“Moody, atmospheric…Dymott's beautiful prose and the elegant, measured nature of the plot should satisfy readers who hang in until the end. Recommended for those who enjoy literary thrillers and mystery novels, and fans of authors such as Donna Tartt and Ian McEwan.” (Library Journal)
“Elanor Dymott’s gorgeous debut novel is a murder mystery that's also a brilliant meditation on love and memory and loss. Like the Robert Browning poems her characters read at Oxford, the book is spooky, lovesick, dark, and lush, its narrator circling obsessively back on the death at its heart.” (Maile Meloy, author of Both Ways Is the Only Way I Want It)
“A beautifully written novel that seeks to unravel the mystery of a marriage―and a murder. Coyly revealing, it dares us to ask how well we can ever know a loved one.” (Taylor Stevens, New York Times bestselling author of The Informationist)
“Lyrical, haunting, and beautifully told, this book is a compelling mystery wrapped inside a tender love story. Ms. Dymott doesn't as much tell us story in her stellar novel as she casts us under a delicate but unbreakable spell.” (Lisa Unger, New York Times bestselling author of Heartbroken)
“Dymott proves skillful on a number of fronts, including conjuring the mysteries of human nature and the cloistered environment of an elite university….the author’s deft evocation of mood and place marks her as a writer to watch.” (Booklist)
“Every Contact Leaves a Trace is an intelligent literary mystery, featuring the kind of tormented narrator that Robert Browning himself might have relished.” (Maureen Corrigan - NPR)
“A murder mystery and love story brilliantly written and suffused with eroticism and a hint of menace…. A fabulous and haunting tale or revenge.” ("Buyer’s Choice” at Book Passage)
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Top Customer Reviews
The book alternates time sequences which was interesting. However, most of the narrative, I won't say story for this novel, is presented by story-tellers. The author tells (and tells) how people feel, rather than showing. I do believe that the book is written in the passive voice, told by 2 main narrators. I will remember a couple of scenes, but that is too few for a 400 page book.
What struck me first about the book was the flat affect and narrative tone of the "main" story-telling character, Alex. At that point, I thought, what a clever author to write so flatly because Alex is obviously in shock due to the murder of his wife. But no, all the characters and the descriptions are rather flat. Perhaps they are all suffering from shock. I must say that no character develops in this book. Things happen to them; one character is described as using people but later is described as loving someone. There is no noticeable or verifiable difference in the character.
Here is another possibility regarding this novel: perhaps it is great portrayal of six characters who suffer from attachment syndrome--unable to connect, love with using, flat, isolated in their own needs...
One of the book's themes is unconditional love, but once again the characters and action do not show this unconditional care.Read more ›
Alex decides that he wants to find out the truth about Rachel's murder as the police investigation is at a standstill. Harry, Rachel's tutor and mentor at Oxford, believes he knows the answers about Rachel's death. He invites Alex to come to Oxford and spend time with him so he can tell Alex his theories about the murder. Alex spends some days listening to Harry and finds out a lot about Rachel's life that he knew nothing about. When Rachel was a student she was involved in erotic activities with two other students that included extensive use of alcohol. These students, Anthony and Cissy, had reason to be jealous of, and angry at Rachel. He learns about Rachel's life with her godmother Evie who raised Rachel after the death of her parents when she was a child. Evie and Rachel had been estranged for many years and Evie was jealous of Rachel. Harry's narration of his theories may or may not be true and Alex is torn about what to believe. He is on the brink of going to New York from London to start a new job but first wants some closure about what happened to Rachel.
This novel is very character driven and very British. Fans of Tana French will delight in Elanor Dymott's debut novel. The beginning of the novel starts off slowly and meanders a bit until it gets to the meat of things. At that point, it spills out like an oil slick and twists and turns in every direction. I was stymied until the very end about who murdered Rachel. This is a superb novel and I highly recommend it.
Perhaps due to the way this story is told I also never felt like most of the characters were very fleshed out. Evie never seemed like anything more than a caricature, and a very fuzzy one at that. The narrator is so bland that at first I thought he was supposed to be a psychopath. The other characters are very unlikeable but not interesting. Henry seemed gullible and spineless. Richard was obnoxious. Anthony was disgusting and so was Rachael. I realize Rachael was supposed to be flawed but I think the author intended her to have improved. To me, though, all she did was fall in love, there was no real evidence that she became a better person and her simply being able to love didn't redeem her enough for me to care what happened to her.
My final complaints with the story are that I figured out who the killer was pretty early on and I don't think the plot was very realistic. I may read something else by Dymott if she writes it because there is potential in her writing if she figures out how to create and tell a story in a more interesting living breathing way but as far as this one goes I wish I had checked it out of the library instead of purchasing it.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This author oscillated from past to present which I found somewhat confusing but it comes together in the end.Published 10 months ago by RGA
The novel, which is supposed to be a literary murder mystery, needed a good editor to cut out 100 pages particularly in the first 180 pp. Read morePublished 11 months ago by Julia Stein
I couldn't get going on this book. Someone else in the reviews called it "turgid" and that's exactly the word that fits. Read morePublished 14 months ago by BiblioAnnie
a thoughtful work with interesting characters. It is't a fast paced book, but a somewhat reflective one. Read morePublished 17 months ago by Bernie Grove
A great whodunnit. I was unfamiliar with Elanor Dymott, but she is a wonderful writer and this mystery is compelling from the first chapter. Also a sweet love story.Published 22 months ago by H Nash
Good book and extremely well written. I actually wrote down one of the statements the man made about his wife
because is was beautifully written.
However.... Read more
Every Contact Leaves A Trace has an intriguing premise, but the execution, unfortunately, falls short. The first half of the book is rather lengthy and repetitive. Read morePublished on September 30, 2013 by pandora