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
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
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.
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.
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)
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)
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
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