7 July 2008

Robert Goddard, always a reliable read

This is another in my blogs about crime fiction authors that I find it safe to pick up on impulse.

Testimony to the fact that I enjoy the writing of Robert Goddard is the fact that I have 5 of his novels in my database (what I've read in the last 40 months).

I have to be read: CLOSED CIRCLE- I picked that up recently second-hand. I am hoping the most recent, FOUND WANTING, will turn up soon as a review book. What I enjoy about the stand-alones is the fact that they cover a variety of subjects, but often with a historical slant.

My mini-reviews

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

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 audion 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

#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

#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

Listing from Fantastic Fiction.

Harry Barnett series
1. Into the Blue (1990)
2. Out of the Sun (1996)
3. Never Go Back (2006)

Past Caring (1986)
In Pale Battalions (1988)
Painting the Darkness (1989)
Take No Farewell (1991)
Hand in Glove (1992)
Closed Circle (1993)
Borrowed Time (1995)
Beyond Recall (1997)
Caught in the Light (1998)
Set in Stone (1999)
Sea Change (2000)
Dying to Tell (2001)
Days Without Number (2003)
Play to the End (2004)
Sight Unseen (2005)
Name To A Face (2007)
Found Wanting (2008)


Gary ("Old Dude") said...

I enjoyed your reviews of the novels in your post, and found myself writing down the author and titles, in preparation of my next visit to my local library. You give good book review---;)


Anonymous said...

I quite enjoyed a few Robert Goddards until Dying to Tell, which I found really boring. I do have another of his on my shelves, but I have not been able to bring myself to read it after that experience.

Kerrie said...

I hope you enjoy them GaryJay

Yes, one book can turn you off Maxine can't it. I have had similar experiences with some books that others have raved about

The Bookworm said...

Great post, I havent read this author before, but I may have to add him to my TBR now :)


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