Every Contact Leaves a Trace

Elanor Dymott, Author
Elanor Dymott. Norton, $26.95 (384p) ISBN 978-0-393-23977-5
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Part meditation on grief and memory, part literary thriller, Dymott’s complex debut is thoughtful and rich in mood. London attorney Alex Peterson is mourning the loss of his wife Rachel, killed six months ago during a visit to the Oxford college where they met as students. The combination of the depth of his sadness and his legal mind draws him into the questions surrounding her unsolved murder, so when he is contacted by Rachel’s former English professor, Harry, who they were visiting the night of her death, Alex thinks the prof might have some answers. Harry relates a long and meandering tale about Rachel’s relationships with her two closest college friends and her guardian, and his own complicity in her death. Alex uses that information to piece together an explanation that reveals the slippery nature of truth and memory. Dymott’s tale is disappointing as often as it is engaging, hampered by Alex’s bland narration and too many levels of mediation, and by a slim, questionable story, but patient and forgiving readers of Gone Girl and The Secret History will be drawn in by its contemplation. Agent: Zoe Pagnamenta, the Zoe Pagnamenta Agency. (May)
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