It is a golden evening of high summer. Walking a ridge on the Welsh Borders, Robin Timariot meets by chance an elegant middle-aged woman who seems strangely out of place. They exchange only a few words, but those words prove to be unforgettable.
A few days later Timariot learns from the newspapers that, just hours after their meeting, the woman was raped and murdered. A man is swiftly charged and convicted of the crime, but a string of inexplicable events begins to convince Timariot that all is not what it seems.
Fascinated by the dead woman's memory, he is sucked into the complex motives and tortured relationships of her family and friends, searching against his better judgement for the secret of what really happened the day she died.
The closer he gets to the truth, the more hideous and uncertain it seems to be. And far too late he realizes that anybody who uncovers it is unlikely to be allowed to live.
About the Author
Robert Goddard was born in Hampshire. He read History at Cambridge and worked as an educational administrator in Devon before becoming a full-time novelist. His best selling novels are: Past Caring, In Pale Battalions, Painting The Darkness, Into The Blue (winner of the first WH Smith Thumping Good Read Award and dramatised for TV in 1997, starring John Thaw), Take No Farewell, Hand In Glove, Closed Circle, Borrowed Time, Out Of The Sun (a sequel To Into The Blue), Beyond Recall, Caught In The Light, Set In Stone and Sea Change.
Suave Goddard, who's been absent from American bookstores since Caught in the Light (1999), returns with a preposterous tale of murderous intrigue, first published in the U.K. in 1995. Pressed to resign his position with the European Commission and take his late brother Hugh's place as a director of the family firm, which manufactures cricket bats, Robin Timariot sets off on a week's walking tour to think things over. One evening he encounters a lovely stranger on a deserted West Mercian ridge. They exchange a few pleasantries; he declines her offer of a ride to a nearby village; they go their separate ways; and that's the last believable incident for the next three years.
Returning to his family after a week virtually incommunicado, Robin learns that shortly after they parted, the stranger, Lady Louise Paxton, was raped and strangled at the home of well-known painter Oscar Bantock, who was strangled as well. The police announce that they've made an arrest, but Robin can't resist responding to their search for possible witnesses. His testimony, and the details he unwisely shares with the Bantock and Paxton families, pull him slowly but irresistibly into the center of the case. Goddard's plotting is as sleekly malevolent as ever; before the seventh corpse falls to the ground, nearly every cast member, from Hugh's widow Bella to Louise's widower Sir Keith Paxton to Shaun Naylor, the police suspect, has revealed layer upon layer of treachery and deceit. Yet the plot ends by swallowing up the characters, especially Robin, who seems at every point to choose exactly the course of action best calculated to land him in deep trouble for no better reason than that the tale requires it.
Connoisseurs of wheels within wheels won't be disappointed. For the rest, the inveterately self-serving pettiness of everyone in Robin's circle is the most realistic touch here. (Kirkus Reviews)
Published: 1st June 1995
Dimensions (cm): 17.780 x 10.668 x 2.794
Weight (kg): 0.245