Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Betrayals” as Want to Read:
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview


3.59  ·  Rating Details  ·  172 Ratings  ·  15 Reviews
A hypnotic murder mystery, a scathing literary parody, and a brilliant pastiche of genres, Betrayals once again demonstrates the virtuosity of the irresistibly entertaining author of The Quincunx, working at his "fiendishly clever" (San Francisco Chronicle) best. "Ingenious in the higest degree."--The Boston Globe.
Hardcover, 353 pages
Published January 24th 1995 by Ballantine Books (first published 1994)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Betrayals, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Betrayals

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 408)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Dec 02, 2007 Trish rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Did you enjoy House of Leaves? How about A History of the World in 10 1/2 Chapters? Do you like puzzles? Murder mysteries?

Betrayals is a collection of seemingly disparate narratives: an obituary for a scientist written by a colleague who seems to delight in his rival's passing; the tale of four passengers stranded on a snowbound train, seemingly told by two very different people, with the stories the passengers tell one another to stave off cold and fear embedded within in it Canterbury-style;
Jul 03, 2012 Ian rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I remember enjoying Palliser's The Quincunx when I read it many years ago, and his The Unburied when I read that about ten years ago. But neither really prepared me for Betrayals, which I thought absolutely superb. It's a type of postmodern fiction I especially like, in which a number of disparate stories eventually form an overall story from the hints and clues they drop. Betrayals opens with a report of a group of people trapped by snow in a train in late Victorian Scotland. To pass the time u ...more
Sep 21, 2009 Patrick rated it it was ok
Shelves: currently-own
Though brilliant in the embedded plot twists and intertwining, I felt that the author was 'Too Clever by Half' and lost me (and most readers I'm sure). I felt that I caught some but not all of the inter-relationships between the separate stories in this novel. This left me frustrated that there were connections I know I should have seen, but that I didn't connect and so only understood the top two-thirds of the total plot twists and tricks.

I think this is a very well written book, but to be app
Jul 17, 2009 Keith rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, 2009
I loved Charles Palliser's The Quincunx and so I bought this slimmer novel in hopes that he would rekindle some of the magic I found in the earlier book. A couple of weeks ago my wife was looking for a new book and, although I hadn't yet read this, I gave it to her. She laughed her way through it and after finishing it she insisted I read it immediately. Naturally I did so and after finishing it she asked me,"well did you like it?" I replied, "No, it was terrible." To which I received the rejoin ...more
Aug 04, 2009 Mazel rated it it was amazing
Il est interdit à quiconque, sous peine des sanctions les plus graves, de déflorer l'histoire de ce livre. On avancera donc ici avec une extrême précaution…

On confirmera simplement, pour tous ceux qui seraient tentés, en cours de lecture, de prendre ce récit pour un recueil de nouvelles, que l'ouvrage qu'ils ont entre les mains est bien un roman.

Oh, certes, un roman un peu compliqué, tout en fausses pistes, fausses portes et fausses barbes (mais les cadavres et les crimes sont vrais).

Oct 31, 2014 Nigel rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
So, Father's Day - also Bloomsday, it turns out - what's a doting Dad to do? Me, I spent most of it on the porch enjoying the low clouds, the cool breeze, the distant cries of unicyclists on the Square and read Betrayals by Charles Palliser. Eventually I went inside and read it some more, because the grey clouds did what grey clouds do and chased even the unicyclists away.

Betrayals was an unalloyed pleasure from first to last, and a reread at that. Since at least two of the disparate ten chapter
Jul 05, 2014 Jeannie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A clever set of related documents - newspaper clippings, diaries, book chapters, letters - that shed partial light on a "famous" Scottish murder mystery. Very, very funny and addictive. Do not read this book if you like to close the final page and feel that you've wrapped the story up! I'm still thinking about it - and I've read this book twice!
Jul 05, 2016 Roxana rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Nabokovian, macabre, witty; the reviewer who called this a "labyrinthine pastiche" was spot on. Wickedly clever - too clever by half, as one character's book is called - and tangled in a gloriously elaborate tangle of murder, deceit, storytelling, and, of course, betrayals. I was completely fascinated by this book and kept flipping back pages to return to clues and foreshadowing moments sprinkled through earlier chapters, or just to giggle knowingly over sly callbacks and connections. A deviousl ...more
Lisa James
This book is a story inside a story inside a story, where the story twists & turns through many characters, & then back around to the first. It's fascinating, murder, mystery, African myths, & Jack the Ripper all figure in this story as it layers & layers throughout.
Leif  Adams
Mar 31, 2016 Leif Adams rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I don't really know what to say.

A series of seemingly unrelated stories start name dropping each other throughout the narrative.

Extremely interesting, but ultimately frustrating. I only understood about
half of the connections and those, tenuously at best. Still, another great from Mr. Palliser.
Kim Salivonchik
May 07, 2016 Kim Salivonchik rated it did not like it
Charles Palliser wrote my most favorite book: The Quincunx. I actively sought out more of his works and this was it. This book was horrible in comparison that I couldn't even finish it. I highly suggest The Quincunx but, not this.
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Oct 13, 2015 Tiffany rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
There was a lot that I liked about this but it was so much work to try to piece everything together and I kind of got bored with it by the end of the book.
Lisa Daleiden-brugman
Eck. I can't really rate this because I actually abandoned this book. Too many freaky stories leading to some odd dreams.
Jan 24, 2015 Fulana rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
what a bloody disappointment
Pat Winter
Pat Winter marked it as to-read
Jul 09, 2016
Victoria marked it as to-read
Jul 07, 2016
Deborah Goulding
Deborah Goulding rated it really liked it
Jul 06, 2016
Becky Marshall
Becky Marshall marked it as to-read
Jul 04, 2016
Pgblu rated it liked it
Jun 23, 2016
Charlotte marked it as to-read
Jun 19, 2016
Jds marked it as to-read
Jun 06, 2016
Martofunes marked it as to-read
Jun 21, 2016
Lance added it
Jun 01, 2016
Marilu marked it as to-read
May 25, 2016
William Bibliomane
William Bibliomane rated it really liked it
May 09, 2016
Susan marked it as to-read
May 08, 2016
Jenn marked it as to-read
May 06, 2016
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 13 14 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Chessmen of Doom
  • Death and Restoration (Jonathan Argyll, #6)
  • The Secret Adventures of Charlotte Brontë
  • Poetry: An Introduction
  • The Dark Clue: A Novel
  • Clockwork Secrets: Heavy Fire (Clockwork Heart, #3)
  • The Detective and Mr. Dickens
  • Detroit Breakdown
  • Howard Who?
  • The Song of Synth
  • Sweet Thames
  • A Short History of World War I
  • A Voice of Her Own: Becoming Emily Dickinson
  • Charlie M (Charlie Muffin, #1)
  • The Mammoth Book of Locked Room Mysteries and Impossible Crimes (Mammoth)
  • Lovers in the Age of Indifference
  • Herra Darwinin puutarhuri
  • Branwell
Charles Palliser (born 1947) is an American-born, British-based novelist. He is the elder brother of the late author and freelance journalist Marcus Palliser.
Born in New England he is an American citizen but has lived in the United Kingdom since the age of three. He went up to Oxford in 1967 to read English Language and Literature and took a First in June 1970. He was awarded the B. Litt. in 1975
More about Charles Palliser...

Share This Book

No trivia or quizzes yet. Add some now »

“To exist is to be betrayed, since we exist for others only by virtue of what we betray of ourselves to them.” 12 likes
More quotes…