Every Contact Leaves a Trace

I’m reading a very interesting novel at the moment, a murder mystery called “Every Contact Leaves a Trace” by Elanor Dymott. In fact it’s more of a psychological thriller than a standard police procedural whodunnit. A woman gets her head stoved in, in the first chapter, in the grounds of an Oxford College, where she and her recently-married husband had been dining at High Table with her old tutor. The story is told from the point of view of her widower, as he tries to unravel what happened.

I’m half way through the book now, and it’s already clear who the murderer must be, purely from a semantic dissection of the plot. But the interesting bit is why she was killed, and how her grieving husband is slowly having to come to terms with the fact that he never really knew or understood his wife.

The description of his grief is very realistic and, frankly, a bit much at times. I have to keep putting the book down as it gets rather too close to home on occasions. But I’ve spotted some errors in the author’s description of dealing with an estate. The main protagonist is having some difficulties cashing in his late wife’s life assurance policy, and I found myself thinking “No! That’s not how it works! What you need to do is………. And anyway, why have you left it six months after her death to sort it out? The life assurance was the very first thing I did once I’d got the Death Certificate!” I suppose it’s always the same – when one has specialist knowledge of something, one can almost invariably pick holes in a written description of that subject, whether it’s inaccuracies in a news story that one knows about first hand, or a technical subject that has been dumbed down for a general audience. I think in this case it’s not going to impact on the plot, so I’ll forgive the author.

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