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Every Contact Leaves a Trace

2.99  ·  Rating Details  ·  587 Ratings  ·  116 Reviews
'If you were to ask me to tell you about my wife, I would have to warn you at the outset that I don't know a great deal about her. Or at least, not as much as I thought I did...'

Alex is in his thirties, a solitary man who has finally found love in the form of his beautiful and vivacious wife, Rachel. When Rachel is brutally murdered one Midsummer Night by the lake in
Hardcover, 384 pages
Published April 5th 2012 by Jonathan Cape (first published April 1st 2012)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,857)
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i really liked this, but i can totally understand why others do not - it is a very frustrating book if the structure just isn't your thing. if you are an impatient person; someone who wants their answers RIGHT FRIGGIN' NOW!, then this book is gonna make you want to throw it. it is a weaving, meandering, teasing book; one whose flaws i completely acknowledge, but which flaws did not diminish my enjoyment of the story at all.

it is about a man whose wife is murdered, and its central mystery is how?
Jul 09, 2015 Blair rated it really liked it
I've mentioned before - on numerous occasions, I think - that I'm not keen on love stories. This doesn't mean I'm a killjoy about romance: I like reading about love, but it has to be realistically portrayed. To enjoy a fictional romance, I have to believe in the characters, feel for them, root for them: get this right and it's one of the best things fiction can do. But too often I feel like authors think they can just tell their readers the relationship between two characters is a great love sto ...more
Aug 04, 2012 Bibliophile rated it it was ok
A literary thriller set in Oxford, about a man trying to find the truth behind his wife's murder sounded good to me, but unfortunately it turned out to be mind-numbingly dull. The characters are utterly lifeless (well, some more than others) and the unearthing of the "mystery" is so tedious I was surprised the protagonist didn't just give up out of sheer boredom.

The love story was supposed to be romantic, but it wasn't for me, since I am a sane person. I hate it when authors present some horrib
Aug 08, 2012 Laff rated it did not like it
Two-thirds of the way through this over-long book I came across the line, 'and then she yawned, slowly, and told me to get on with it'. Everything is so drawn out and contrived, whether it's wealthy lawyers and IT geeks who don't possess a laptop or a Blackberry, as that would compromise the plot, or a student who travels from Oxford to Manchester via London Euston! There is also a wonderful moment when the narrator eventually plucks up courage to tell his true love of a terrible accident that d ...more
Sep 22, 2012 Jane rated it really liked it
Shelves: borrowed
First there was the book itself. A thing of beauty. The cover design, in black, white and a muted shade of red was lovely, and the page ends in that same shade of red were a perfect finishing touch.

And then there was an opening that promised so much

‘If you were to ask me to tell you about my wife, I would have to warn you at the outset that I don’t know a great deal about her. Or at least, not as much as I thought I did…’

Alex and Rachel had met when they were students at the same Oxford college,
May 24, 2013 Claire rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
London - Oxford setting, undertones of Browning's 'My Last Duchess,' murder mystery, unreliable narrators... unfortunately the book did not carry through on its premise. I was actually mad at the end (having made my way through the trudging, dragged-out, wearisome nature of the narrative), feeling cheated out of what could have been a great story.
Every single character in here is ridiculous and irritating from the clueless, irrational husband Alex to the bumbling Oxford professor (who demonstra
Oct 05, 2013 Melissa rated it it was ok
I really wanted to like this book. The book itself is gorgeous with red lined pages. However, the writing style soon proved to be too much like watching molasses run January. It took quite a while for the story to get going and when it did, it was constantly interrupted. I found this to completely destroy my concentration and soon began to disengage from it. I had figured out who "done it" very early in book and kept waiting for the rest of the characters to get up to speed. I've cer ...more
So much promise here: unreliable narration, unlikeable characters, Oxford setting. But somehow, despite great writing style, it just misses the mark.

Rachel and Alex met as students at Oxford, had a summerlong fling, and then Rachel broke it off. Years later, at his BFF's wedding, they meet again and somehow end up engaged the next morning. A few months later, Rachel's head is bashed in at night during a visit the two of them take to their old college. Simple enough, right? The question, of cours
Linda Robinson
On the new book shelf. I took back The Morels after 80 pages. It was cold. I exchanged it for this book. Also cold. It took many pages for me to stop editing. Repeated phrases, adjectives, comma-ed phrases that could have been left out altogether. It reads like testimony about a love story, a police procedural of a murder investigation conducted by interested albeit emotionally challenged parties, a stalker's diary. The narrator is unreliable because he is not believable. His grief is antiseptic ...more
Helen (Helena/Nell)
My rating is really 4.5, though reading the GoodReads reviews so far, I was so surprised to find a number of low ratings that I wanted to swing the odds the other way and gave it 5. I think this is a remarkably strong first novel. I loved it. I got to the end and immediately began again, trying to puzzle out certain aspects. And even after the second read, I went back looking for specific details I hadn't quite sorted out in my own mind.

Obviously there are two things that draw you through (or do
Ian Young
Jul 12, 2012 Ian Young rated it liked it
Every Contact Leaves a Trace is Elanor Dymott’s first novel, and is best described as a literary whodoneit. The setting is the University of Oxford. The main characters are students or academic staff, or closely associated with the University. The story is narrated by Richard, now a lawyer in early middle age. At the start of the novel he meets, apparently by accident, Rachel, with whom he has been at University. We know very quickly that the two have a shared past, but the details of their prev ...more
Morgan Kleiss
May 19, 2013 Morgan Kleiss rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I received this book from a Goodreads First Reads giveaway.

Alex Petersen's wife of only a few months has been brutally murdered. Rachel went down to the lake to meet someone and was later found with her head bashed in by a stone. Alex falls into a deep depression and has to leave his job in order to deal with his grief. With the police investigation at a deadlock, Alex decides to investigate on his own. Harry, Rachel's tutor and mentor at Oxford, believes he knows the answers to the questions s
Bonnie Brody
May 18, 2013 Bonnie Brody rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Alex Petersen's wife of just a few months has been brutally murdered on the grounds of their alma mater, Worcester College at Oxford. Rachel went down to the lake to meet someone and her head was bashed in with a stone. Alex goes into a deep depression and has to leave his job as an attorney in order to process his grief.

Alex decides that he wants to find out the truth about Rachel's murder as the police investigation is at a standstill. Harry, Rachel's tutor and mentor at Oxford, believes he kn
Oct 07, 2013 BooksnWool rated it it was ok
Shelves: reviewed, cozy, thriller
WOW can this writer conjure beautiful prose. This could have been a classic on a par with The Secret History. The love story, the touch of ghostliness, are so deftly woven in that they add an extra dimension without slowing the unfurling of the mystery for a moment.

We have the literary delight of a gormless narrator, unreliable because he doesn't understand what's been going on. I also enjoyed the way the book was equally about the effects of the victim's life and death on those around her.

A wa
Jan 05, 2015 Kirsty rated it really liked it
"Every contact leaves a trace" may be the basic principle of forensic science, but don't expect a CSI-style procedural. The phrase is used in a more interpersonal sense, to mean that every contact with a person – in this case the narrator's murdered wife – leaves a trail of evidence that can be followed.

Introverted lawyer Alex is devastated when his vivacious academic wife, Rachel, is killed during a visit to their alma mater: Worcester College, Oxford. He can't think of why anyone would want to
Jun 17, 2013 Noor rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I picked this book up simply because it caught my eye while I was skimming the titles in Waterstones; the words "Every Contact Leaves A Trace" stuck in my mind not as the title of another book, but more so as a brutally honest conclusion. Dymott spares no expense in proving that all fragments of the past do eventually haunt us again through the explanation of Rachel Cardanine's murder. Trying to grasp the few facts he can of the events leading up to his wife's death, Alex discovers that Rachel h ...more
Jessica Woodbury
Dec 18, 2012 Jessica Woodbury rated it liked it
Shelves: kindle, arc
This is definitely a good book. The problem I have with it is that it could've been a REALLY GREAT book but it doesn't quite get there.
It's overwritten, which is rather forgiveable.
It seems like it could've benefited from a 3rd person rather than 1st person narration, at least it seems that our narrator is really the worst person to be telling this story, given how often he tells us something that someone else has told him that they actually heard from another person entirely until you're in 4
This book had such potential. Unfortunately I think the writer tried to be too elusive and clever and ended up not giving us much of anything concrete. I don't mind being left hanging or not being quite sure what just happened but there are just too many things in here that don't make sense or don't have an explanation. The writing itself isn't bad, but the plot is eye rolling. I read this for my book club. In the end we decided it was more about relationships and loss than murder mystery, which ...more
Apr 11, 2013 Zoeytron rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: first-reads
Beautiful writing, rich and lush. Some might think this book is rather wordy, but when the writing is as savory as this, I like wordy just fine and dandy. I was sorry every time I had to stop reading to do something else, would have liked to have read it in one sitting.

If you absolutely have to like the characters in a book, you may find that it is not easy to do here. That is not to say they were not drawn well. I do believe I could pick out the characters of Richard and Lucinda out on the stre
Drusie's Biblio
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Nancy Kunhardt
Sep 17, 2014 Nancy Kunhardt rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Turgid is the word that springs to mind after slogging through sentences that sound like they were translated from Goethe. First and foremost, don't believe anyone who compares this book to Donna Tartt's The Secret History, a beautifully-written book with fascinating characters, a plot that moves coherently towards a tragic end. Dymott's book is peopled with characters who are profoundly boring, unlikeable, revolting, or annoying. One doesn't care that Rachel is murdered and, when we finally fin ...more
May 09, 2013 Veronica rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I recieved this book for free through goodreads first reads

I love/hated this book. Sometimes I found it confusing and I wasn't sure what was going on. Mostly I really liked it though. It reminded me a lot of Gone Girl, especially because I was totally unsatisfied with the ending. I want to love this book but I just can't get past the feeling like it's leaving me with too many unanswered questions
Helen Smith

Nostalgic for me (student at Oxford in same era). Very evocative. Very and-what-will-happen next.

Badly over-written in parts, excusable for a first novel.

However, bits of it woefully implausible even for Oxford. I realise the narrator i unrealiable, but even so!
Nov 11, 2014 Eliza rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I received this through a goodreads giveaway.

“‘Alex, this is the thing. There are some stories that can never be told. And you should’t say you love me because you can’t, not properly. You don’t even know me, and you wouldn’t if you did, really you wouldn’t.’ But I told her then that I saw things differently from her, and that is was my belief that one could never really know another person anyway, not completely.”

Dymott has written a melancholy tale filled with captivating prose. It is an artf
Ruth Morgan
Jul 29, 2015 Ruth Morgan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I found this hard work to begin with, what with all the forensic memory hopping backwards and forwards in time- a light summer holiday read it ain't and I think from the cover, this was what I'd been expecting. However, I'm very glad I persevered because it turned out to be an engrossing story told in a compelling and highly original way. I was soon immersed in the rarified, hothouse world it portrays and shocking, secret lives of the characters. Any author that can make you feel such sympathy f ...more
Mar 12, 2014 Jan rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2014
I did not like this book. I've pondered why that is and have two ideas. Most of the book consisted of the narrator relating other characters' unrealistic ally detailed descriptions of past events. In addition, I found nothing to like or understand in any of the main characters. The narrator's wife has been murdered and he is trying to find out who did it and why. Even at the end, he is still speculating; there are few hard facts. He also describes behaviors of his wife and her friends that are u ...more
Elizabeth Elwood
I picked this novel up because the Oxford setting appealed to me and I was intrigued by the element of mystery in the story. The book has the type of plot that engages me: a man searching, not only for the person who killed his wife, but also for the reason for the murder. I can see why the book draws such divergent opinions from the people who have read it as, although the cover blurb emphasizes the mystery, the novel is character-driven and is written more as a stream of consciousness than a c ...more
Apr 01, 2015 Kristina rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is so much more than a murder mystery set in Oxford. It's also a novel about the depth of grief and the complexity of human relationships. Alex Petersen's wife was murdered about six months ago as we start the story. He gradually finds out more about the events that led to her murder and realises that he didn't know her all that well. Gradually, more and more of the events of their undergraduate days at Worcester College in Oxford is revealed. This is not so much about who murdered Rachel b ...more
Jan 03, 2016 Bex rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A thriller set in the legal world, Every Contact Leaves a Trace tells the story of Alex, a thirty-something lawyer whose beloved wife Rachel is murdered brutally when they return to their old Oxford college. While trying to deal with his grief, Alex is soon drawn in to the mystery surrounding Rachel's death--and indeed her life. As Sean Bateman in Bret Easton Ellis's The Rules of Attraction puts it, "No one ever ever knows anyone." The truth in this story definitely has the potential to hurt.
Jul 20, 2013 Juli rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: first-reads
I received this book as a First Reads winner on Goodreads. In this book, Alex Petersen is dealing with the aftermath of his wife's murder. Rachel was murdered on a visit back to their alma mater Worcester College in Oxford. The police don't know who did it so Alex tries to piece together what really happened to Rachel. Through a narrative told to him by Rachel's old college mentor, he's able to start putting together what most likely happened the night she was murdered.
At first, I had a hard ti
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Elanor was born in Chingola, Zambia, in 1973. She was educated in the USA and England and also spent parts of her childhood in South East Asia. After studying English at Oxford University, she qualified as a lawyer before becoming a law reporter. Her short fiction has been published in Stand, The Warwick Review and Algebra. Every Contact Leaves A Trace is her first novel, and was longlisted for Th ...more
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