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by Robert Goddard
Delta, December 2006
320 pages
ISBN: 0440242800

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

Almost 25 years ago, then grad school student David Umber had been in Avebury, England, a village best known for having an ancient, huge stone circle. He had been sitting by the circle when he witnessed a kidnapping along with a hit and run accident that left one little girl dead and her little sister missing as their nanny looked on in horror. A man soon confessed to the crime.

David and the nanny, Sally, married, but the tragedy never left their minds. They couldn't remain together and they soon separated. Just recently Sally killed herself in an apparent suicide over the long past incident.

One day David receives a visit from now retired Chief Inspector George Sharp, the policeman who had been in charge of the case. He tells David that he has evidence that the man who confessed to the crime had been lying. He just received an anonymous letter that mentions the subject David had been studying as a grad student. He thinks that David has the knowledge to help him solve the case and he wants David help him get to the truth.

Though David has lived his life running away from what had happened, he realizes that if someone has such a strong reason to bring up the tragedy again, then Sally's death might not have been a suicide. It also makes him think that anyone else involved with the tragedy might still be in danger. He agrees to investigate.

The international locations are wonderfully described and the ambiance of the books brings the readers inside its pages to live through everything with the lead characters. The solution to the crime is very well done; the characters within the story are masterfully created. All become very real people to the readers and we care a lot about what happens to them.

In that the writer, Robert Goddard manages to make us care and feel for the characters, I don't understand why he insists on writing in the omniscient voice. It becomes a bit of cheap melodrama every time the voice pops up at the end of a chapter to let us know what is to befall the character in the future. Having that voice tell us that the character will soon find himself ruing the decision he just made, or that the next couple of hours will show him to be wrong, only adds a bit of cheap drama that isn't needed.

Also, where most mystery stories start out slow and quicken the pace as the answer to the mystery gets closer, usually building to a crescendo of excitement as the case is solved, this book does the opposite. As the clues are uncovered, the books winds down to a snail's pace as we get closer to finding out whodunit. The slow tempo of the final chapters frustrated me no end and it took all the resolve I had not to scan through the pages to get to the conclusion.

Most of SIGHT UNSEEN is well written and good reading. Just make certain you aren't in an impatient mood when you pick this book up. The slowness of the ending will frustrate you a lot!

Reviewed by A. L. Katz, February 2007

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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