I love Robert Goddard books. I think I have read them all. His classic story revolves around a man whose life is somehow in crisis who is thrust into a mystery which harks back into the past and who finds a new life through the adventures he experiences on his quest. I love the historical aspect and his heroes are classic examples of shabby disenchantment.
But I was the disenchanted one with this book.
His hero is a foreign office bureaucrat who is neither convincingly shabby and fed up with life nor has he any particular FO skills or connections. He agrees to take a locked briefcase to Amsterdam to meet an old friend who used to be a drug dealer (without thinking of looking in the briefcase). From this unconvincing start he gradually becomes more and more the thriller hero, rescuing people, shooting guns, risking his life because he is too dogged to give up, and falling in love at first sight.
The mystery itself alternates between the obvious (the bloke who bleeds to death is obviously a haemophiliac and therefore descended from the last Tsar of Russia) and the downright stupid: why on Earth is the bloke in charge of a massively profitable organisation prepared to spend millions and kill many to retrieve some letters??? The explanation is far from satisfactory.
Cardboard characters and a formulaic plot: this is decidedly not one of Goddard's best. However, his best is very, very good and even this carries you along.
March 2010; 474 pages
- I live in Bedford, England. Having retired from teaching; I am now a research student at the University of Bedfordshire researching into Threshold Concepts in the context of A-level Physics. I love reading! I enjoy in particular fiction (mostly great and classic fiction although I also enjoy whodunnits), biography, history and smart thinking. I have also recently become a keen playgoer to London Fringe Theatre. I enjoy mostly classics and I read the playscripts and add those to the blog. I am a member of Bedford Writers' Circle. See their website here: http://bedford-writers.co.uk/ Follow me on twitter: @daja57