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3.2 out of 5 stars
3.2 out of 5 stars
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on 2 May 2017
The best of her Lynleys I've read - outstanding and interesting characterisation. George is clearly familiar with musicians and psychotherapists.
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on 8 October 2001
Having been a long time fan of Elizabeth George, I was disappointed with this book. It returns to the diary format of 'Playing for the Ashes' but lacks it's gripping story line. The plot of A Traitor to Memory is tangled and to me, far-fetched and it took a while for the diary entries to fit into the story, which made it hard going. Usually, I find it's hard to put down a new Elizabeth George, but with this story, I struggled to continue. Quite apart from the almost boring 'diary entries'and the seeming lack of a convincing plot, a major dissappointment is the side-lining of the usual characters. In the last book, it seemed that Barbara Havers was developing a relationship with her neighbour, but there was no mention of him or his daughter this time. Deborah and St James barely featured at all and even the relationship between Lynley and Helen is only briefly incorporated into the story.
Part of the enjoyment of this series has been following the lives of the main characters, to have them all-but-removed is disappointing, but would not have mattered so much had the main story been a good one. Unfortunately, it was not.
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on 9 August 2001
It is with a heavy heart that I write this review. After waiting two years for the next installment in the Lynley/Havers saga, I feel betrayed. This book reads more like a stand alone than part of Ms. George's excellent series. It was as if Lynley and Havers were afterthoughts and really didn't have much to do with the story. At over 700 pages, the book tends to wander, be repetitive, drag and, in total, was not a pleasant reading experience. Perhaps if the book had been written as a stand alone and was at least 300 pages shorter, it might have worked.
I read an interview with Elizabeth George where she discussed how she wrote this book in a different style. I can only believe that Ms. George was trying to write a psychological thriller. While I respect her desire to spread her wings, my advice is to leave this genre of writing to Minette Walters, Barbara Vine or Nicci French. None of these authors were able to write the wonderful series that Elizabeth George created.
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George is an uneven writer and here I think she's trying to hit above her weight. So while sticking to a crime mystery format, she also tries to write a psychological portrait of a genius as well as a psychological thriller and the whole thing doesn't manage to stand up under all these various expectations.

Returning to the diary format of Playing for the Ashes (Inspector Lynley Mystery), here Gideon writes a journal addressed to his psychologist alongside the main police investigation. Olivia's diary worked because she had a compelling voice and an interesting story to tell: Gideon's doesn't, because he has neither. His journal with its endless recounting of nightmares and one-sided arguments with his absent psychologist is just tedious. The points that George needs to bring out could have been introduced in some other ways and I found myself skimming all his narratives (helpfully in italics).

There are too many other irrelevancies, too, in the other stories: the strange relationship between Libby and Gideon that only seems to exist for the denouement; the reiterative theme of pregnant women which feels overdone; the tortuous relationship between Lynley/Helen/Deborah/St James which really we would have expected them all to have got to grips with now. Even the very strange relationship between Winston and a witness...

The final 'revelation' doesn't feel satisfying, and the idea of killing for misdirection seems a cheat...

So not one of George's best: her ambitions are too high but she can't square them either with the genre in which she's writing or, I think, with her writing skills. This one needed the judicious use of an editor's red pencil...
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on 5 August 2001
Frankly, after two weeks of finishing the book, I can't remember exactly whodunnit. OK, I know that isn't the most important thing, but I'm left with a sort of vagueness about most of the characters in this book. Lynley doesn't develop much. Havers neither and Winston - well, I couldn't quite work out where Winston's got to. Basically flunks it, yet in line for promotion? Not her best. I got fed up with the Gideon flashbacks. Too long by about 200 pages.
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on 2 May 2002
I too am a great fan of Elizabeth George's previous work and couldn't wait for this one. However, it turned out to be a serious disappointment. None of the characters were believable or even likeable and the diary entries were tedious and unbelievable as well. No one would write a journal for his psychologist in such incredible detail as to include complete dialogues. No one would serve 20 years for a crime they didn't commit without once speaking out. The holier-than-thou mother would have gone to the police to set records straight instead of just walking away, and then suddenly after 20 years she becomes a threat after all? And the most irritating thing is that Gideon has his life covered in television documentaries and tabloids, but not once would any of these exposees refer to this horrible crime that took place within his family when he was a kid, when the crime itself was equally tabloid covered, so that Gideon is conveniently not confronted with it for 20 years? I don't think so. It seemed to me that Elizabeth George was seriously struggling with this one. I hope for her next Lynley mystery she'll go back to what she does best and stay away from this psychological mumbo-jumbo.
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on 28 July 2001
Having been a fan of Elizabeth George's books for a long time now, I was disappointed by the previous Lynley novel and was hoping for a return to old times with this one. After a great start, however, "A traitor to memory" failed to grip this reader. It is longwinded and even though I usually love the psychological approach to crime solving, this time it was too much. Every time I came upon one of the frequent "diary" sections and another description of a nightmare, I just wanted to fast forward.
The biggest failure of the book to me however is the lack of involvement of our favourite characters. The story line with Lynley and Helen is continued briefly, but then forgotten through most part of the book. Barbara, St. James and Deborah rarely appear at all. If this were a film, I doubt they would even be considered for best supporting roles.
I don't know how quickly the next instalment will follow, but I feel that Elizabeth George has left me hanging with too many loose ends. The worst thing is that this time I felt that I had to wade through a whole lot of badly constructed plot (the killer was obvious after the first few chapters) waiting for at least some b-plot to reward me, only never to get it.
I haven't given up on her yet, but unfortunately the wait for the next Elizabeth George is no longer full of excited suspense but more of hoping against hope that things will get better.
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Violin virtuoso Gideon Davies (common referred to as Gideon) walks off the stage during a concert. He finds that he's lost the music and cannot play again. With the encouragement of his mentor, Gideon undergoes a long psychiatric treatment designed to bring him back to the concert stage. His therapist asks him to write his personal history, and much of the book focuses on these fragmentary memories . . . as he digs up his repressed memories.
While that alone would be enough for a novel, Ms. George also has a murder mystery for us. Someone is running over people who were connected to the death of Gideon's Down's-Syndrome sister 20 years earlier. The timing is curious because the nanny who was convicted of murder for the sister's death has just emerged from prison. Is it revenge time?
I finished the book feeling disappointed. While the character development is fascinating and thorough, the book did go on much too long. The mystery also is pretty obvious . . . except that Ms. George chooses to scatter the information in deliberately confusing ways. If the story had been developed in a straightforward way, there would have been no mystery.
I didn't really want to know as much about these characters as Ms. George chose to share with me. As in some of her earlier books, Ms. George seems to find it fascinating to describe people who have no inner life in great detail. I find that unconvincing. I think even selfish, narrow people are more complex than Ms. George makes them.
Ms. George does reward her loyal readers by revealing new aspects concerning the backgrounds of Lynley, Havers and their colleagues. Nkata emerges as a real character for the first time. This process of new revelations and character development is abetted by having four narrators, Gideon, Lynley, Havers and Nkata.
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on 11 August 2004
Being a great fan of crime and mystery novels, I was pleased to see a book by one of my favourite authors of the genre on 700 pages. There's nothing like days and days of continuous suspense! I wasn't let down, quite the contrary - I've enjoyed The Traitor to Memory best of all George's novels. The plot is wonderfully complicated and finely balanced, the characters fully formed and convincing. It was the best possible break between two 'proper' novels.
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on 9 October 2001
I felt that this book needed considerable editing. Unfortunately the "stream of consiousness" chapters meant that I guessed the murderer, and many of the the twists, long before they were explicitly revealed.
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