Every Contact Leaves a Trace by Elanor Dymott
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
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 course, is Who Killed Rachel and Why. That's where the unreliable part comes from. We hear one story from Harry, Rachel's former tutor, and another from Evie, her godmother who has a real hate on for Alex. Then there's Anthony's story, as told by Harry. While they all loosely mesh, it's clear that there's something Not Quite Right here, that there are layers still hidden. Alex, steeped in grief and not functioning well at work, tries to figure things out even as he is getting ready to go to New York to start his life over.
The biggest problem for me was not that Alex loved Rachel unconditionally (which we're told several times) but that he's so clueless. They knew each other in college, so how could he possibly be so unaware of what she was like? It didn't make sense. Neither did Evie's hate for him, not just post-Rachel's death but when they got married. And the ending? I'm all for ends being left loose, but the Big Clue seemed to be too convenient. Finally, the pacing. It took 200 pages to get really started with the story of What Happened - why?
ARC provided by publisher.