Book Review: Every Contact Leaves a Trace – Elanor Dymott

Title: Every Contact Leaves a Trace
Author: Elanor Dymott
ISBN: 9780393239775
Pages: 416
Release Date: May 6, 2013
Publisher: W. W. Norton & Co.
Genre: Literary Fiction, Mystery
Source: Publisher
Rating: 4.5 out of 5


Alex is absolutely taken with his wife, Rachel, but when she is murdered on the grounds of the college they once attended together, he is bereft. Alex must sift through the insinuations and lies around Rachel’s death to find out what happened once and for all, but along the way he comes to realize there are many things he didn’t know about his wife.


Every Contact Leaves a Trace is a novel that starts slowly. The reader comes to know Alex, the circumstances behind Rachel’s death, and the narrator’s utter helplessness in the face of his wife’s murder. Alex’s grief is palpable, bleeding through every line of this text, and his sadness muddles things. The reader meets the major players in the novel, and hears about others, but the narrative doesn’t really have definitive coherence. It’s not until almost halfway through the book that Alex really begins to pull himself together to understand what really happened to Rachel.

As a result, if you like your books to be action packed from the first page, then Every Contact Leaves a Trace might not be for you. This is a novel that takes some time and effort, but it’s well worth the wait. Additionally, Dymott’s gorgeous descriptions and amazing sense of atmosphere help the reader when the narrative seems a bit disjointed and difficult. This is very much a contemplative novel that not only deals with the facts surrounding a murder, but also provokes a discussion about the nature of grief.

The truth behind Rachel’s murder is definitely surprising in Every Contact Leaves a Trace. With every page, the web of conspiracy, of the things Rachel kept from Alex, seems to become more and more pronounced. This is a book of telling (as Alex learns much of his information secondhand) rather than showing, but Dymott still manages to keep the reader completely hooked as they try to figure out Rachel’s secrets.

This isn’t a straightforward murder mystery, though it appears that way at first glance. Instead, Every Contact Leaves a Trace is a moody, atmospheric novel with an amazing setting—the grounds of Oxford. Alex’s grief and the depth of his love for Rachel are both thought-provoking; as the reader learns more about this complex woman, they will be itching to dissect her motives and choices. It’s a beautifully written evocative novel that fans of literary mysteries and books set in academia will likely enjoy.

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  1. Sounds like a great read. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

  2. Sounds like a great read. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

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