An English murder mystery that will have readers delighting in Goddard's wit, intelligence, skillful plotting, and perfect prose.
At a wedding party in Cornwall, Chris Napier, the bride's uncle, is shocked to recognize a drunken, disheveled, and evidently distraught intruder. Chris hasn't seen his childhood friend Nicky Lanyon for more than thirty years, not since Nicky's father was hanged for the murder of Joshua Carnoweth--Chris's great-uncle and the man behind the Napier family's inherited state of affluence. Nicky's plea for his father's innocence is underscored by the method of his suicide at the close of the nuptial celebrations.
Chris is now impelled to test the truth of his friend's conviction. The conduct of more than one member of his own family begins to dog his hesitant footsteps into a past gradually darkening with hints of corruption, greed, lies, child abuse, and good old-fashioned revenge. Beyond Recall reveals Robert Goddard at his tantalizing best, teasing and questioning our assumptions as he carefully challenges those of his superbly drawn characters.
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A carefully crafted tale of suspense, Beyond Recall interweaves present and past as Christian Napier sets out to discover the truth behind his great-uncle's murder, committed during the days of rationing and privation following the Second World War. That death provided the foundation of the Napier family's subsequent prosperity, but Christian is led to question the verdict reached in the case by the more recent suicide of an old and abandoned friend. The whole of the action is relayed through Napier's eyes and voice as he struggles to sort out his understanding of what happened before he was born, his own memories as a child, the alcohol-hazed intervening years, and the current arm's-length relationship he maintains with the surviving members of his family.
Goddard's sense of place is strong. The Cornish market town of Truro, with its 19th-century cathedral looming over events spanning a century, provides the backdrop for the mystery and also for the shifting fortunes of the British experience. Descriptions of a grand family home transformed into a hotel and conference center, the tiny chain-pulled ferry crossing an estuary as it has done for generations, and Cornwall's unchanging and temperate beauty offer convincing detail beyond the usual place-name dropping.
Although the denouement is muddled by a confusion of identities and too many people thought dead resurfacing (both to Napier's dismay and delight), the general scheme is entertaining enough and just within the bounds of what's believable, given Goddard's manipulation of the reader's expectations. The central themes of revenge and greed lose some of their power when mixed with a subplot colored by a '90s obsession with sexual misdeeds, but these flaws do not detract from the pleasure of the whole. An enjoyable read, fraught with the tension Goddard's readers have come to expect.From the Publisher :
"One of Britain's Finest Thriller Writers"
- Time Out
"Satisfyingly complex...finishes in a rollercoaster of twists"
-Michael Hartland, Daily Telegraph
"Absorbing and intriguing"
-T.J. Binyon, Evening Standard
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