Compulsive, entertaining and a great read at the time … but did it really hang together?
Opinion was divided – as ever – over June’s Festivals Book Club title, Every Contact Leaves a Trace ; Elanor Dymott’s sexy murder mystery.
In fact, much like the narrator who despite writing a book about his wife concedes that, “I don’t know a great deal about her,” the group didn’t quite know what to make of it.
Was it a detective story or a study of love and loss? A stylish novel or page-turning pap?
As befits an enigmatic mystery, we never did decide.
The group agreed that there was little to like about the characters, but these same characters were the subject of animated debate, and certainly got under the skin. The writer’s self-consciously literary style was sometimes thought to be laboured, yet at the same time, other passages were held to be brilliant. And the twists and turns were undoubtably what made the novel, yet on reflection the plot perhaps didn’t quite add up.
As a compulsive, pacey read, most of our readers had raced to finish it and enjoyed it at the time, but couldn’t be sure if they’d go on to recommend it.
So it seems that, fittingly for a book that begins with “fluctuating states of knowing and unknowing,” even after an hour’s discussion, our group still wasn’t quite sure, and the mystery of Every Contact Leaves a Trace goes on.