Tuesday, 22 July 2008

No Time for Goodbye by Linwood Barclay

Orion €11.95

CYNTHIA wakes up alone in the house, the night after her first drunken binge with a bad boy. Her family are gone without a trace.
Her father came last night and dragged her out of the car where she was canoodling with Vince Fleming, son of a local criminal.
Now, as she stands in the kitchen and wonders where everyone’s gone, she begins to be frightened.
It’s a great beginning to a story that rattles along at speed.
Years later, Cynthia goes on TV, taking part in an unsolved mysteries programme, in the forlorn hope that she might hear some news of the lost ones.
But it’s as if she’s thrust a stick into a pool full of alligators. There’s a message saying her parents forgive them. A car appears, following Cynthia’s little girl to school at walking pace.
And the aunt who brought her up tells a long-kept secret to Cynthia’s husband.
They hire a detective, who turns up some news of his own.
Cynthia’s father is a man of mystery. No driver’s licence picture, no social security records. Can he have been an FBI agent? On a witness protection programme? A spy?
All this is great. But it gets to the point where you want to echo the character who wails “How long is this going to go on?” – or words to that effect.
The story has a belly like a poisoned pup. Somewhere in the middle, when the family haven’t turned up, clue after clue keeps appearing, and every few chapters there’s a sinister dialogue by unidentified people, you get the itch to skip to the end.
But it’s worth it for the buildup. And while the end isn’t that satisfying – the solution works technically, but not emotionally – it all wraps up.
A great book for waiting for the airport to fix their radar, though. Long enough and exciting enough that it’ll last you for the few days.

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