Title: No Time for Goodbye
Author: Linwood Barclay
Publisher: Orion [originally published 2007, this edition 2008]
14-year old Cynthia Bigge woke up one morning alone in the house. At first she thought her parents and brother had all left the house normally without waking her but it soon became clear they had disappeared. She never saw them again. Twenty-five years later Cynthia is married, has an eight-year old daughter and agrees to make a television show about the disappearance to see if it stirs up any information. Eventually it does, although not perhaps what Cynthia and her family were expecting.
The plot here is intricate but well executed. The linking between past and present is well done and the various elements of Cynthia’s story are teased out at a beautiful pace. Although it’s her story, the novel is narrated by her husband Terry which makes for an interesting perspective as there are things he knows that the reader doesn’t but there are many things he learns along with the reader which makes it easier to follow than many thrillers. I have to say though that I found the last portion of the story, the big reveal if you like, a bit predictable. I might have been having a lucky guess day but I think the short chapters that were interspersed with the main story that offered transcripts of telephone conversations gave the game away a bit early. As usual though on the rare-ish occasions when I manage to work out the ending I happily read on to see if I was right.
The far more interesting component of the book for me was the character development, in particular Cynthia and Terry’s relationship and the way they individualy dealt with what was obviously a series of traumatic events. So often in thrillers this element is ignored and it was nice to see someone take the time to explore this. The characters’ reactions to the various events in the book were very natural although, paradoxically, far less predictable than the plot. I was quite taken with the couple and their daughter Grace and stayed up late more to find out if anything truly terrbile would happen to them than to discover what happened to Cynthia’s family.
This book is far more than the run-of-the-mill ‘action sequences plus pseudo-science’ thriller. It’s an engaging, credible story with troubled but likable people who could easily be your neighbours and I’m not at all surprised to see Richard and Judy chose it as a great summer read last year.
My rating 3.5/5
Linwood Barclay has a series of mystery novels which feature a science fiction writer