4 April 2010

Review: NEVER GO BACK, Robert Goddard

A review that was originally published elsewhere

Random House Australia, Bantam Press, June 2006

How good or trustworthy are your memories of fifty years ago? Fifty years ago Harry Barnett was doing his National Service and taking part in a psychological experiment at Kilveen Castle in Scotland. Now living in Canada, Harry has returned to England to finalise the estate of his recently deceased mother. An old mate from the Kilveen Castle days is organising a 50th anniversary and for Harry it presents an opportunity to go back and relive the good times. Even better, it will be expense free because the reunion organiser Johnny Dangerfield has done well over the years and is paying for everything. Harry looks forward to catching up with his former business partner, the dodgy Barry Chipchase. But even before they arrive at the castle, one of their group has disappeared and soon after they arrive another dies in strange circumstances. It seems that Harry doesn't remember some things that others do, and before long the old team, he and Barry, are not only investigating some very strange circumstances but are in fear for their own lives.

NEVER GO BACK is the third in Goddard's Harry Barnett series and is set ten years after the second title OUT OF THE SUN. I wondered seriously about reading it, because although I generally look forward to reading a new title from Robert Goddard, I had only 'read' the first two titles on audio CD. I was not disappointed. Goddard writes with a lovely turn of humour. Harry Barnett is near 70 and no longer athletic, if indeed he ever was, and throughout his life he has drunk and smoked too much. What the reader has to admire about Harry is his persistence and dogged pursuit of the truth, although he doesn't always recognise it when he meets it.

Don't worry if you haven't yet read the first two titles in this series, INTO THE BLUE (1990) and OUT OF THE SUN (1996). While it probably does help to read them in order, this one is definitely able to stand on its own. But be warned, you will probably like Harry and his adventures enough to search the first two out. I'm also fascinated by the thought of a series written over a period of more than 15 years. Goddard has created a character in Harry Barnett that feels true to himself over that period of time, but in whom there has also been growth and development.

Robert Goddard has an impressive string of titles to his name beginning with PAST CARING in 1986. INTO THE BLUE in 1990 won the first WH Smith Thumping Good Read Award and was dramatised for TV in 1997, starring John Thaw. For me that's what NEVER GO BACK is - a thumping good read.

My rating 4.5

I have also reviewed NAME TO A FACE.

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)
Long Time Coming (2009)

July 2006 review, first published on Murder and Mayhem


Anonymous said...

Kerrie - I've read Goddard, but not this one. As you say, Goddard is reliably good, and this one sounds fascinating Thanks for the fine review. I'll have to put this one on my TBR list.

Dorte H said...

I read it in January, and I agree that this pageturner is a good, reliable Goddard.


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