A Traitor to Memory (Inspector Lynley Series #11)

A Traitor to Memory (Inspector Lynley Series #11)

by Elizabeth George


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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."

When a woman is killed on a quiet London street, Detective Inspector Thomas Lynley embarks upon an investigation that will lead him to walk the treacherous line between personal loyalty and professional honor. With his longtime partners Barbara Havers and Winston Nkata, he must untangle the dark secrets and darker passions of a family whose history conceals the truth behind a horrific crime.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780553801279
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Publication date: 06/26/2001
Series: Inspector Lynley Series , #11
Pages: 736
Product dimensions: 6.44(w) x 9.59(h) x 1.54(d)

About the Author

Elizabeth George's first novel, A Great Deliverance, was honored with the Anthony and Agatha Best First Novel Awards and received the Grand Prix de Litterature Policiere. Her third novel, Well-Schooled in Murder, was awarded the prestigious German prize for suspense fiction, the MIMI. A Suitable Vengeance, For the Sake of Elena, Missing Joseph, Playing for the Ashes, In the Presence of the Enemy, Deception on His Mind, and In Pursuit of the Proper Sinner were international bestsellers.

Elizabeth George divides her time between Huntington Beach, California, and London. Her novels are currently being dramatized by the BBC.


Seattle, Washington

Date of Birth:

February 26, 1949

Place of Birth:

Warren, Ohio


A.A. Foothill Community College, 1969; B.A. University of California, Riverside, 1970; M.S. California State University

Read an Excerpt


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.

Copyright 2001 by Elizabeth George

Table of Contents

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Traitor to Memory (Inspector Lynley Series #11) 3.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 43 reviews.
harstan More than 1 year ago
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.

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.

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.

Harriet Klausner

Tigerpaw70 More than 1 year ago
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.
screener More than 1 year ago
Nothing more to be said, except too, too much sex!
hobbitprincess on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Another Inspector Lynley novel. The mother of a violin prodigy is killed by a hit-and-run driver, and the mystery gets more and more complicated the more it is investigated. I did get a bit tired by Gideon's (the violin player) constant whining, but it all has a purpose. He has apparently lost the ability to play, and through a psychiatrist, begins remembering his childhood and the murder of his sister, something that plays hugely in the current murder investigation. I wasn't hugely surprised by the ending, but I was kept guessing through much of the book.
LhLibrarian on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This one was harder for me to read of her books. There was no resolution in the end, not that there really could be, but it was emotionally draining. I also found the format - switching between the narrative and the diary distracting.
Carmenere on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
#17-2011A Traitor to MemoryElizabeth George2001719 pages½ /5 starsWhat do you call a book with too many characters and of those characters only the two regulars in this series are enjoyable yet receive little print time while the rest are not likeable nor sincere nor whom the reader can sympathize? What do you call a novel that is utterly confusing in that the storyline shifts from memories to journals to character¿s real time actions? What do you call 719 wordy pages that leave you scratching your head and mumbling to yourself? What do you call a tome which you began reading ten years ago and abandoned based on the above characteristics but wanted to pick up again and determine if it redeems itself? Finally, what do you call a book that is a complete waste of time and dead trees¿¿¿¿¿¿.I call it A Traitor to Memory. It¿s a shame that this novel did not meet the expectations of George¿s previously much enjoyed novel, In the Pursuit of the Proper Sinner.Would I recommend it¿¿¿¿..No, but I certainly would not write off Elizabeth George. She is a masterful writer but the length of this labyrinth should have been addressed in the editing room.
amacmillen on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Gideon, a smart young boy, with great musical talent has lost his abilities. Two or three hit-and- run murders happen and detectives are baffled as to who committed them. The plot revolves around the murder/death of Gideon's little sister several years prior. This sister had down syndrome. The ending indicates that the father committed the murders trying to hide the cover-up the earlier murder of his child.
nbmars on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Gideon Davies, a former child prodigy violinist, has lost his art, due, presumably, to ¿psychogenic amnesia¿ (an amnesia not due to any physical process but one of purely psychological origins). Through chapters that are meant to be entries in a diary kept at the behest of his psychologist, Davies tries to work out just what exactly he is trying to forget. His current boarder, Libby Neale, tries to help him, and perhaps be more to him than just a tenant. Meanwhile, in a totally different time zone, Scotland Yard Detective Inspector Thomas Lynley and his partner Constable Barbara Havers try to solve a series of hit-and-run murders. The hit-and-run victims include people from Gideon¿s past; in particular, those who were in his life at the time of the drowning death of his retarded sister Sonia twenty years earlier. Thus the two parallel stories involve the same people, but the Scotland Yard chapters predate the diary entries, a trope which is not at all clear at first, and can be rather confusing.Familiar characters from George¿s previous novels make an appearance, including the likable Detective Winston Nkata, the Superintendent Malcolm Webberly, Lynley¿s wife Helen, and Lynley¿s close friend and forensic scientist Simon Allcourt-St. James and his wife Deborah.The erstwhile friends and family of Gideon Davies are given enough of a psychological vetting in Gideon¿s diaries to show that this prodigy has spent his life surrounded by some very bizarre people, who in turn have made him very bizarre as well. He is still, at age 28, a spoiled boy who thinks everyone¿s life should revolve around him. Contributing to this perception is his father Richard Davies, who will make any sacrifice for his son, even in preference to his young pregnant lover Jill Foster. Like other George mysteries, we must look back to the epigraph to get her sense of the message of the book, which in this case is a quote from II Samuel: ¿O my son Absalom, My son, my son, Absalom! Would God I had died for thee.¿ The son in this case is of course Gideon, and the father, involved in his son¿s life to a pathological degree, is Richard Davies. If Gideon and Richard aren¿t very likeable, neither are the others who have been with them over the years. His mother, Eugenie, deserted the family after Sonia died. His sister¿s former nanny Katya has just been released from twenty years in prison for killing Sonia and now divides her time sneaking between two female lovers met in prison. His former house co-boarder is an internet sex addict who now goes by the handle TongueMan. And so it goes. George engages us with the usual stockpile of family secrets and plot twists and turns, but the endless self-absorption of such a central character as Gideon was a bit wearing. Our old Scotland Yard friends from her previous mysteries had to play ¿second fiddle¿ in this story to the bratty violinist. The chronological dislocution only made it harder to bear. (JAF)
cequillo on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Reading this novel is like unwinding a many colored ball of yarn. George sets the story up with a hit and run, and unfortunately that character happens to be one I¿d like to have known better, but she leaves us in the first 5 pages. Having never read George before, I had difficulty with a lack of familiarity with any of the detectives who pursue the crimes, who all come into focus as the story gains momentum. I suspect from reading this novel that these are characters who evolve over time in previous books. But initially, I had to work at keeping the characters identified. The plotting is skillful and any mystery reader can¿t help but to be drawn into the story. The characters are well developed and bring flavor and color to the pages. The problem which comes into play with this novel is length .. by the time I¿d turned almost 500 pages, I found myself counting how many were left. I don¿t think a mystery sustains itself well over that many pages, no matter how intricately drawn. A doorstop size of 1024 pages, and at the mid way point, I began to get mired down. I think this story could have been told in half that many pages and given George¿s skill with characterization and plotting, you still would have had a great mystery to bite into. Made me wonder where her editors were when this manuscript was handed in.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This was entirely too long and convoluted
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This story had a lot of contradictions to it. I found myself struggling to continue to read it but once I started I felt I had to, at the very least, finish it. I've enjoyed all of her books, but this one was a stumper. I kept thinking, did she actually write it herself? Or did some ghost writer write it and she put her name to it? I'll read another of her books and hope they're better than this one. Everyone deserves a bad one now and then.
dixierc More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Way too long and involved. Not anywhere as good as others by Georgfe that i have read. I did what I have rarely done. I put it down unfinished.
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Liesl Istre More than 1 year ago
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.
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