- audio version available at Audible.com
- book published 2009
- length: 11 hours
- source: I bought it
Synopsis (Fantastic Fiction)
In Antwerp in 1939, a Jewish diamond trader flees Nazi Europe, leaving his priceless collection of Picasso paintings and diamonds with a friend who takes them to London. The boat he flees on sinks, leaving no survivors. Fast forward to 1976 when his penniless family tries to track down the missing paintings. A classic thriller with Goddard's trademark plot twists.
Eldritch Swan is a dead man. Or at least that is what his nephew Stephen has always been told. Until one day Eldritch walks back into his life after 36 years in an Irish prison.
He won’t reveal any of the details of his incarceration, insisting only that he is innocent of any crime. His return should be of interest to no-one. But the visit of a solicitor with a mysterious request will take Eldritch and his sceptical nephew from sleepy seaside Paignton to London, where an exhibition of Picasso paintings from the prestigious Brownlow collection proves to be the starting point on a journey that will transport them back to the Second World War and the mystery behind Eldritch’s imprisonment.
I thoroughly enjoyed listening to this story. Once again it is a book that combines a number of time frames - Dublin in 1942, England in 1976, and then later 2008. It asks the reader to understand a little of IRA history particularly during the war years.
The narrator is Eldritch Swan's nephew Stephen who had always been told his uncle was dead. The uncle will not reveal why he has spent 36 years in an Irish prison, but shortly after his mysterious release he is contacted by a lawyer whose client wants Eldritch to find proof that the a collection of Picassos were fake. The search brings Eldritch and his nephew into touch with people who were involved in the painting swindle, as well as a very influential ex-public servant who knows exactly why Eldritch has spent 36 years in prison.
Robert Goddard's books nearly always combine the present with the past and I always seem to find them enjoyable, so much so that they are almost comfort reading. Most of them are stand-alones ans so can be picked up at any time in any order.
David Rintoul does an excellent job of the narration.
My rating: 4.5
See my review of NAME TO A FACE
On a summer’s day in 1981, a two-year-old girl, Tamsin Hall, was abducted during a picnic at the famous prehistoric site of Avebury in Wiltshire. Her seven-year-old sister Miranda was knocked down and killed by the abductor’s van. The girls were in the care of their nanny, Sally Wilkinson.
One of the witnesses to this tragic event was David Umber, a Ph.D student who was waiting at the village pub to keep an appointment with a man called Griffith who claimed he could help Umber with his researches into the letters of “Junius,” the pseudonymous eighteenth century polemicist who was his Ph.D subject. But Griffin failed to show up, and Umber never heard from him again. The two-year-old, Tamsin Hall, was never seen again either. The Hall family fell apart under the strain. Sally Wilkinson, the nanny, wound up living with Umber, whom she had met at the inquiry. But she never recovered from the incident, suffered increasingly from depression, and eventually committed suicide.
In the spring of 2004, retired Chief Inspector George Sharp receives a letter signed “Junius” reproaching him for botching the 1981 investigation. Sharp confronts Umber, whose explanation for being at the scene of the tragedy has always seemed dubious. Obliged to accept Umber’s denial of authorship of the letter, he nonetheless forces him to join in a search for the real culprit — and hence the long-concealed truth about what happened 23 years previously. It is a quest that both will later regret having embarked upon. Too late they come to understand that some mysteries are better left unsolved.
My rating: 4.5
DYING TO TELL (Audio CD)
Lance Bradley, living the quiet life in a shop in Glastonbury, has lost touch with his old friend Rupert Alder. Rupe’s siblings, Win, Mil, and Howard, all a good deal older than Rupe, are dependent on him for their income, and their income has mysteriously dried up. Rupe seems to have disappeared and Win asks Lance for help in tracking him down. This is not an easy task and leads Lance around the world and back to headline-making events that occurred in the year that he and Rupe were born, 1963. A thriller with some very unexpected twists and turns.
My rating: 4.3
INTO THE BLUE (unabridged audio CD)
Reading this required a bit of 'devotion'. There are 14 CDs with 17 hours 30 minutes on them. Harry Barnett lives on Rhodes caretaking a friend's villa and working in a local bar. Harry, British and middle-aged, has been a failure at most things he has turned his hand to. Heather Mallender, a young friend of the villa's owner, arrives to spend some time on holiday and re-cuperating from a recent illness. When she and Harry are climbing a mountain one afternoon, she goes on ahead and disappears. The local police at first suspect Harry of murdering her and disposing of her body. They have no evidence. Harry is released, and, convinced Heather is still alive. he begins to track her life. This story is full of twists and turns and is a complex web of strands. The reading is very well done and provided a very enjoyable experience. My rating: 4.7
OUT OF THE SUN (Audio CD)
#2 of Robert Goddard's Harry Barnett books. When Harry is informed that his son, David, is in a diabetic coma, he is certain there must be a mistake, since he does not have a son. But he soon discovers that he does and that other scientists employed like David have died in mysterious circumstances. Is David the victim of attempted murder? Once again this is a complex story, and just when you think there is a resolution, you come to another blind alley. The unabridged CD set is 10 CDs and almost 12 hours. Paul Shelley does an excellent job of all the different voices. Other characters from the earlier book INTO THE BLUE make a welcome re-appearance: Barry Chipchase, Zora, Mrs Tandy and Harry's mother, but there is enough background information if this is your first dip in the series.
My rating: 4.5
NEVER GO BACK
#3 in Goddard's Harry Barnett series and is set 10 years on from the second title OUT OF THE SUN. Harry is now living in Canada, but has returned to England to finalise his recently deceased mother's estate. An old mate from Harry's RAF days is organising a 50th anniversary reunion in Scotland at Kilveen Castle where as young men they had taken part in a psychological experiment. But even before they arrive at the castle one of their group has disappeared and soon after they arrive another dies in strange circumstances.
My rating: 4.5