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by Robert Goddard
Corgi, February 2003
411 pages
ISBN: 0552148776

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

Robert Goddard (Sea Change Into the Blue, Past Caring, In Pale Battalions, Painting The Darkness, Take No Farewell, Hand In Glove, Closed Circle, Borrowed Time, Out Of The Sun, Beyond Recall, Caught In The Light, Set In Stone) before turning to writing full time, worked in local government. Perhaps this, in some measure, is reflected in his desire for accuracy and his insistence on research. Unlike local government, however, he makes sure he has a balance between researched detail and action. No boring tedium for him.

Goddard has established himself as a respected name in thriller writing in Britain. While he introduces an element of the historical into his books they are not

entirely historical. Dying To Tell - a reissue of the book as a Corgi thriller, formerly published by Bantam - is a case in point. The plot revolves around an historical episode of 1963 yet the emphasis is on a tangential tale of the nineties.

Lance Bradley is a ne'er-do-well living in Glastonbury. He had at one time gone to work in London but his efforts there were doomed to failure and he has returned, a

parental disappointment, to the town where he grew up. He is in touch with his parents but shares, at best, an uneasy peace with his father. Essentially living only from dole cheque to dole cheque he is dismayed one day to be approached in his local hostelry by Winifred Alder, eldest sister of his old friend Rupe Alder. Rupe had saved Lance's life when they were boys - never mind that he was also the cause of Lance's life being endangered - sowhen Winifred tells him that Rupert is missing and begs Lance's help to find him, Lance feels obliged to oblige.

A journey to London, which was the last place the Alders had heard Rupe was stationed, does not prove enlightening to Lance despite his earlier optimism. He

discovers that Rupert had, in fact, been sent to Japan by the shipping company for which he had worked, then he had given notice and disappeared. Not only that, it seems that Rupe had become enmeshed in an import fraud.

Lance describes himself to Rupert's flat mate as a quitter, yet something about the search inspires him to continue. Along the way he discovers proof of the formerly loyal Rupe's fecklessness and betrayal. All of these oddities seem somehow to be connected to deaths in Glastonbury in 1963. Lance pursues the leads he has uncovered to Germany, Japan and even the United States all the time being perilously associated with murder and danger to himself.

It would be interesting to hear how Goddard could decide on a method to produce an antihero who could be motivated to help someone despite his own tendency to idleness and general uselessness. Certainly he hit on a good one. The incidents of the tale have shock value and the plot is, to put it mildly, tortuous and perhaps a bit on the unconvincing side. The introduction of the chain of characters is perhaps a little too pat and I felt the dénouement was just too involved and forced. Nonetheless, the plotting was good, if overdone, and the characterisation of Bradley was excellent. The pace of the action fell just short of an Indiana Jones movie.

This latest offering from Goddard will no doubt entertain and satisfy the readership which has greeted the author's previous efforts with enthusiasm.

Reviewed by Denise Wels, November 2002

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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