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Every new Elizabeth George novel is a major publishing event. Now the internationally bestselling author shows once again why both The New York Times and the Chicago Tribune have hailed her as "a master" and why Entertainment Weekly has proclaimed her Detective Inspector Thomas Lynley novels "the smartest, most gratifyingly complex and impassioned mystery series now being published."
"A superbly paced, all-consuming treat.... George has the ability to display and then dissect her characters in a painfully realistic way. If dogged police work is what you demand from mysteries, hit the sidewalk with these complicated British detectives."—USA Today
"Wrenching ... George still stands several rungs up the ladder from her more superficial rivals."—Kirkus Reviews
MAIDA VALE, LONDON
FAT GIRLS can do. Fat girls can do. Fat girls can do and do and do.
As she trod the pavement towards her car, Katie Waddington used her regular mantra in rhythm with her lumbering pace. She said the words mentally instead of aloud, not so much because she was alone and afraid of seeming batty but rather because to say them aloud would put further demands on her labouring lungs. And they had trouble enough to keep going. As did her heart which, according to her always sententious GP, was not intended to pump blood through arteries that were being fast encroached upon by fat.
When he looked at her, he saw rolls of flesh, he saw mammae hanging like two heavy flour sacks from her shoulders, he saw a stomach that drooped to cover her pubis and skin that was cratered with cellulite. She was carrying so much weight on her frame that she could live for a year on her own tissues without eating, and if the doctor was to be believed, the fat was moving in on her vital organs. If she didn't do something to curb herself at table, he declared each time she saw him, she was going to be a goner.
"Heart failure or stroke, Kathleen," he told her with a shake of his head. "Choose your poison. Your condition calls for immediate action, and that action is not intended to include ingesting anything that can turn into adipose tissue. Do you understand?"
How could she not? It was her body they were talking about and one couldn't be the size of a hippo in a business suit without noticing that fact when the opportunity arose to have a glimpse at one's reflection.
But the truth of the matter was that her GP was the onlyperson in Katie's life who had difficulty accepting her as the terminally fat girl she'd been from childhood. And since the people who counted took her as she was, she had no motivation to shed the thirteen stone that her doctor was recommending.
If Katie had ever harboured a doubt about being embraced by a world of people who were increasingly buffed, toned, and sculpted, she'd had her worth reaffirmed this night as it was every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday when her Eros in Action groups met from seven till ten o'clock. There, the sexually dysfunctional populace of Greater London came together for solace and solution. Directed by Katie Waddington--who'd made the study of human sexuality her lifelong passion--libidos were examined; erotomania and -phobia were dissected; frigidity, nymphomania, satyrism, transvestitism, and fetishisms were admitted to; erotic fantasies were encouraged; and erotic imagination was stimulated.
"You saved our marriage," her clients gushed. Or their lives, or their sanity, or frequently their careers.
Sex is commerce was Katie's motto, and she had nearly twenty years of approximately six thousand grateful clients and a waiting list of two hundred more to prove this true.
So she walked to her car in a state that was somewhere between self-satisfaction and absolute rapture. She might be anorgasmic herself, but who was to know as long as she had success in consistently promoting happy orgasm in others? And that's what the public wanted, after all: guilt-free sexual release upon demand.
Who guided them to it? A fat girl did.
Who absolved them of the shame of their desires? A fat girl did.
Who taught them everything from stimulating erogenous zones to simulating passion till passion returned? A terminally hugely preposterously fat girl from Canterbury did and did and did.
That was more important than counting calories. If Katie Waddington was meant to die fat, then that was the way she'd die.
It was a cool night, just the way she liked it. Autumn had finally come to the city after a beastly summer, and as she trundled along in the darkness Katie relived, as she always did, the high points of her evening's group session.
Tears. Yes, there were always tears as well as hand wringing, blushing, stammering, and sweating aplenty. But there was generally a special moment as well, a breakthrough moment that made listening to hours of repetitious personal details finally worthwhile.
Tonight that moment had come in the persons of Felix and Dolores (last names withheld) who'd joined EiA with the express purpose of "recapturing the magic" of their marriage after each of them had spent two years--and twenty thousand pounds--in exploring their individual sexual issues. Felix had long since admitted seeking satisfaction outside the realm of his wedding vows, and Dolores had herself owned up to enjoying her vibrator and a picture of Laurence Olivier as Heathcliff far more than the marital embrace of her spouse. But on this night, Felix's ruminations on why the sight of Dolores's bare bum brought on thoughts of his mother in her declining years was too much for three of the middle-aged women in the group who attacked him verbally and so viciously that Dolores herself sprang passionately to his defence, apparently flooding away her husband's aversion to her backside with the sacred water of her tears. Husband and wife subsequently fell into each other's arms, lip-locked, and cried out in unison, "You've saved our marriage!" at the meeting's conclusion.
She'd done nothing more than give them a forum, Katie admitted to herself. But that's all some people really wanted, anyway: an opportunity to humiliate themselves or their beloved in public, creating a situation from which the beloved could ultimately rescue or be provided rescue.
There was a genuine gold mine in dealing with the sexual dilemmas of the British population. Katie considered herself more than astute to have realised that fact.
She yawned widely and felt her stomach growl. A good day's work and a good evening's work meant a good meal as a reward to herself followed by a good wallow with a video. She favoured old films for their nuances of romance. Fading to black at the crucial moment got her juices flowing far more efficiently than close-ups of body parts and a sound track filled with heavy breathing. It Happened One Night would be her choice: Clark and Claudette and all that delicious tension between them.
That's what's missing in most relationships, Katie thought for the thousandth time that month. Sexual tension. There's nothing left to the imagination between men and women any longer. It's a know-all, tell-all, photograph-all world, with nothing to anticipate and even less left secret.
But she couldn't complain. The state of the world was making her rich, and fat though she was, no one gave her aggro when they saw the house she lived in, the clothes she wore, the jewellery she bought, or the car she drove.
She approached that car now, where she'd left it that morning, in a private car park across the street and round the corner from the clinic in which she spent her days. She found that she was breathing more heavily than usual as she paused on the kerb before crossing. She put one hand on a lamppost for support and felt her heart struggling to keep to its job.
Perhaps she ought to consider the weight loss programme her doctor had suggested, she thought. But a second later, she rejected the idea. What was life for if not to be enjoyed?
A breeze came up and blew her hair from her cheeks. She felt it cooling the back of her neck. A minute of rest was all she needed. She'd be fit as ever when she caught her breath.
She stood and listened to the silent neighbourhood. It was partly commercial and partly residential, with businesses that were closed at this hour and houses long ago converted to flats with windows whose curtains were drawn against the night.
Odd, she thought. She'd never really noticed the quiet or the emptiness of these streets after dark. She looked round and realised that anything could happen in this sort of place--anything good, anything bad--and it would be solely left to chance if there was a witness to what occurred.
A chill coursed through her. Better to move on.
She stepped off the kerb. She began to cross.
She didn't see the car at the end of the street till its lights switched on and blinded her. It barreled towards her with a sound like a bull.
She tried to hurry forward, but the car was fast upon her. She was far too fat to get out of its way.
I WANT to begin by saying that I believe this exercise to be a waste of my time, which, as I attempted to tell you yesterday, is exactly what I do not have to spare just now. If you wanted me to have faith in the efficacy of this activity, you might have given me the paradigm upon which you are apparently basing what goes for "treatment" in your book. Why does it matter what paper I use? What notebook? What pen or what pencil? And what difference does it make where I actually do this nonsensical writing that you're requiring of me? Isn't the simple fact that I've agreed to this experiment enough for you?
Never mind. Don't reply. I already know what your answer would be: Where is all this anger coming from, Gideon? What's beneath it? What do you recall?
Nothing. Don't you see? I recall absolutely nothing. That's why I've come.
Nothing? you say. Nothing at all? Are you sure that's true? You do know your name, after all. And apparently you know your father as well. And where you live. And what you do for a living. And your closest associates. So when you say nothing, you must actually be telling me that you remember--
Nothing important to me. All right. I'll say it. I remember nothing that I count as important. Is that what you want to hear? And shall you and I dwell on what nasty little detail about my character I reveal with that declaration?
Instead of answering those two questions, however, you tell me that we'll begin by writing what we do remember--whether it's important or not. But when you say we, you really mean I'll begin by writing and what I'll write is what I remember. Because as you so succinctly put it in your objective, untouchable psychiatrist's voice, "What we remember can often be the key to what we've chosen to forget."
Chosen. I expect that was a deliberate selection of words. You wanted to get a reaction from me. I'll show her, I'm supposed to think. I'll just show the little termagant how much I can remember.
How old are you, anyway, Dr. Rose? You say thirty, but I don't believe that. You're not even my age, I suspect, and what's worse you look like a twelve-year-old. How am I supposed to have confidence in you? Do you honestly think you're going to be an adequate substitute for your father? It was he I agreed to see, by the way. Did I mention that when we first met? I doubt it. I felt too sorry for you. The only reason I decided to stay, by the way, when I walked into the office and saw you instead of him is that you looked so pathetic sitting there, dressed all in black as if that could make you look like someone competent to handle people's mental crises.
Mental? you ask me, leaping onto the word as if it were a runaway train. So you've decided to accept the conclusion of the neurologist? Are you satisfied with that? You don't need any further tests in order to be convinced? That's very good, Gideon. That's a fine step forward. It will make our work together easier if you've been persuaded that there's no physiological explanation for what you're experiencing.
How well spoken you are, Dr. Rose. A voice like velvet. What I should have done was turn straight round and come back home as soon as you opened your mouth. But I didn't because you manoeuvred me into staying, didn't you, with that "I wear black because my husband died" nonsense. You wanted to evoke my sympathy, didn't you? Forge a bond with the patient, you've been told. Win his trust. Make him suggestible.
Where's Dr. Rose? I ask you as I enter the office.
You say, I'm Dr. Rose. Dr. Alison Rose. Perhaps you were expecting my father? He had a stroke eight months ago. He's recovering now, but it's going to take some time, so he's not able to see patients just now. I've taken over his practise.
And away you go, chatting about how it came about that you returned to London, about how you miss Boston, but that's all right because the memories were too painful there. Because of him, because of your husband, you tell me. You even go so far as to give me his name: Tim Freeman. And his disease: colon cancer. And how old he was when he died: thirty-seven. And how you'd put off having children because you'd been in medical school when you first got married and when it finally came time to think of reproducing, he was fighting for his life and you were fighting for his life as well and there was no room for a child in that battle.
And I, Dr. Rose, felt sorry for you. So I stayed. And as a result of that staying, I'm now sitting at the first-floor window overlooking Chalcot Square. I'm writing this rubbish with a biro so that I can't erase anything, per your instructions. I'm using a loose-leaf notebook so that I can add where necessary if something miraculously comes to me later. And what I'm not doing is what I ought to be doing and what the whole world expects me to be doing: standing side by side with Raphael Robson, making that infernal ubiquitous nothing between the notes disappear.
Raphael Robson? I can hear you query. Tell me about Raphael Robson, you say.
I had milk in my coffee this morning, and I'm paying for it now, Dr. Rose. My stomach's on fire. The flames are licking downwards through my gut. Fire moves up, but not inside me. It happens the opposite, and it always feels the same. Common distension of the stomach and the bowels, my GP tells me. Flatus, he intones, as if he's offering me a medical benediction. Charlatan, quack, and fourth-rate saw-bones. I've got something malignant devouring my intestines and he calls it wind.
Tell me about Raphael Robson, you repeat.
Why? I ask. Why Raphael?
Because he's a place to start. Your mind is giving you the place to start, Gideon. That's how this process is going to work.
But Raphael isn't the beginning, I inform you. The beginning is twenty-five years ago, in a Peabody House, in Kensington Square.
Posted December 9, 2008
He made his public debut at the age of six and a half and almost two decades later former child prodigy Gideon Davies remains internationally renowned for his music. One day just before a performance, the music vanished and Gideon could no longer even play a simple note. After a complete neurological work up that showed no physical cause, his doctors recommend a psychiatrist. <P> Following several intense sessions over the next few weeks, Gideon concludes that he suffers from repressed memories. He did not remember that he once had a sister Sonia who suffered from Down¿s Syndrome before being killed by her nanny when she was two. While Gideon struggles to adjust to his recollection, his mother who deserted the family years ago is murdered in front of the London home of a man who one lodged with the Davies family when Sonia still lived. DI Inspector Lynley and Constable Havers begin an investigation to keep the surviving Davies kin safe even though it means digging deep into a family¿s darkest secrets. <P> Elizabeth George has written a monster sized, yet fascinating police procedural that allows numerous subplots to fully develop and characters to feel both real and complex. Unlike their usual appearance where Lynley and Havers play center court, Gideon is the star of A TRAITOR TO MEMORY. Although it takes a while for the meat of the plot to be served the soup and salad is as tasty as the delicious main course. Ms. George provides sub-genre fans with a psychological look at a family in crisis wrapped inside a strong police procedural that will bring the author much acclaim. Set aside a few days and enjoy. <P>Harriet Klausner
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Posted July 1, 2011
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.
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Posted June 24, 2011
Nothing more to be said, except too, too much sex!
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Posted October 6, 2013
I wasn't thrilled with this format. I found it way too laborious to keep up with. I've read all of the previous Inspector Linley books, but because of the above, cannot recommend this one.it.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted August 28, 2012
Posted January 26, 2011
This was my first book I'd ever read by Elizabeth George......I fell in love and read ALL her books. She is my favorite author. I grab up her books the moment they are released.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
This was one of those books I could not put down. There are so many small stories in here that your emotions switch from happiness to sad to being mad.I felt sorry for violinist and what he was going thru and the pressure he was under from his father. Ms. George did a great job with all the characters and their "skeletons in their closets". The ending was fantastic!Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted March 30, 2010
I have enjoyed Elizabeth George's books. They have been a little uneven but this particular book is a good read for me. I enjoy the fact that she carries many of the characters from one book to the other and the characters grow on you. They become like old friends as you read from one book to the other.
This one is an excellent read and is about one of the main characters, Detective Inspector thomas Lynley, though other normal characters are found in the book also.
Mystery readers will enjoy this one.
J. Robert Ewbank author "John Wesley, Natural Man, and the 'Isms'"
Posted December 27, 2006
I have read several of George's books and have found them enjoyable. They have always been concise and in the end everything is tied up in a clever way. This story was a disappointment. It needed more editing and structure. For example, why Ms. George felt the need to describe in one long paragraph how Lynley hung up his coat at the St. James home...who cares. After asking her readers to commit to a 1000+ page book, she owed it to us to offer a better ending. It seemd that her publisher was nagging her to finish the manuscript, or she just got tired of the entire thing. BIG disappointment.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted April 25, 2005
I am generally a fan of George's, but this book was a cumbersome clanking ripoff of Kate Atkinson's brilliant Behind the Scenes at the Museum, with none of the delicacy. I was almost embarrassed for George.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted August 24, 2004
This was my first Elizabeth George book. The first 500 pages seemed to move along swiftly and were rich with characters, character development and intrigue. But the last 500 hundred pages were laborious and tedious. I stuck with it simply because I wanted resolution to all that I had invested my time in - surely the end is worth the effort. Instead, the end was a true disappointment - it's as though Ms. George simply became tired of the process involved in pulling together 1000+ pages. Too many characters were intimately involved in the plot and even after 1000 pages, she just didn't know what to do with them all. There is no resolution to the characters' plight and the end just didn't mesh with the intent of the first 999 pages. Had it been condensed into 500 pages, I think I'd feel less robbed of a true literary experience, but still disappointed.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted June 7, 2004
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 Havers to the case. Their investigation of Eugenie¿s trauma filled past turns up a wealth of suspects. Meanwhile, Gideon, violin genius extraordinaire, is struggling to overcome his sudden inability to play by revisiting his childhood memories with a therapist. Gideon¿s story and the murder investigation are woven together into an explosive collision course. I¿m a fan of George¿s Lynley/Havers mysteries, so it pains me to say that this one really needed some editing. At over 1000 rambling pages, it¿s a long slog to get to an uncharacteristically disjointed ending. George does paint a fascinating portrait of a severely dysfunctional family, but that doesn¿t make up for unexplained motivations and weak plot elements. One of George¿s strengths has been getting readers involved in the personal lives of her detectives as well as getting drawn into the mystery at hand. Unfortunately, Lynley, Havers, and the rest of the usual inhabitants feel more like supporting characters in A Traitor to Memory. Ultimately, I found this book hard to get into and difficult to finish. If you¿re new to Elizabeth George, you might want to start with A Great Deliverance or Payment in Blood.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted March 10, 2004
This was by far my favorite Elizabeth George book! The beauty of Ms. George's writing lies within her characterization. Not only was the plot entertaining but it is the characters that I look forward to meeting with in each new book.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted January 12, 2004
This was the first novel I've read by Ms. George, and I must say that I greatly agree with Edward's (above) review. It kept me up nights with anticipation and I thoroughly enjoyed all of the characters. And the character study on Gideon (the lead character)... it's one not to be missed. Albeit, I had no idea that some were characters in a 'series', apparently an excellent series of which this is not considered one of the best. Well, in that case, I can't wait to read the others... where do I begin??Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted November 6, 2003
Posted November 11, 2002
I have been a George fan since I first discovered her while living in London in the early 90's. It hurts me to say this, but this book is awful. Totally disappointing. The only other book she has written that I did not love was "Missing Joseph", but this book is a total waste of time. The book is a 1,000 pages of nothing. The story goes nowhere and the ending is so disrepectful to any reader who has slogged through it. Skip this one and re- read any (or all) of the other books. I can forgive one misstep, but let's hope this is not the beginning of the end for this great series.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted October 1, 2002
Over 1000 pages which could have been written in less than 500. Characters well-drawn, dialogue a bit overmuch at times, and it didn't take all that long to figure out who, how and why. Added the sub-plot of Lynley's dilemma and you have a not so entertaining book from the great Elizabeth George. While her novels are always beautifully written and not for the faint of intellect, this one went out on a limb and I keep wondering......why?Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted June 26, 2002
Eloquently written, detailed development of characters makes this mystery novel a joy to read. Through main character, Gideon, a series of themes such as sex, love, maternal instincts and the relationship between the past and present (which are inexcruciably linked) are portrayed. Uses different text-types and switches from 3rd to 1st person which is technically effective and adds interest to the responder.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted December 21, 2001
This book was way too long for what it had to offer. I have read all of Ms George's mysteries and enjoyed most of them. But after reading this one (yes, I plowed through it) I don't know that I would pick up another. None of the new characters were very likable and the plot was too contrived. Does this author get paid by the word?Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted August 5, 2001
I couldn't quite get a grip on why it took so many pages to say what this book said. It was well-written and interesting in spots, but a long-winded, ponderous read. I may have been generous with 3 stars but it probably deserves it. I like something that is a little more tightly wrapped.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.