No Time For Goodbye by Linwood Barclay – review

NoTimeFor_UKcover1-196x300This came into my hands via my wife and a colleague who lent it to her.

It’s the sort of thing that sometimes gets offered as the free-of-charge iBookstore Book of the Week, so fairly similar in nature to a number of novels I’ve sampled over the past year or so.

This was a Richard and Judy Summer Read pick in 2008 and apparently sold like gangbusters. It has a Michael Connelly quote in the blurb. It’s cover is generic: a low shot of a forest, tinted blue, which has very little – if anything – to do with the plot or contents of the story. This interests me following my own experiment in creating a “generic” cover design for my NaNoWriMo effort.* This isn’t the first book I’ve read recently where I’ve thought the cover – or even the title – seemed to have very little to do with the story. Somewhere deep in a marketing department, someone has a spreadsheet and an algorithm. Thriller, yeah? You need trees, a bit of sky…

The premise is bold, and the set up uses broad brush strokes. Teenage tearaway is dragged home by her father from an illicit date. Sleeping heavily because she was drunk, the wakes the next morning to find her family have vanished without a trace – abandoned her.

Twenty-five years later, married and with a kid of her own, she revisits the events of her past, and it all kicks off.

Efficiently written, this is a great page-turner. For about 250 pages, I couldn’t fault it. At that point, however, I started to get irritated with some of the characters, and I just wanted to fast-forward to the denouement. So it dips into a lull for fifty or so pages, and then picks up again. Where this novel reveals its true artistry is in the way you work out what happened just before the main character does. So you get the pleasure of solving the mystery, but you don’t have to keep ploughing on to find out you were correct. And then you work out the loose ends of the plot just before the main character does again.

Smart, and even quite moving at the end.

It passed the time well enough, though it’s not quite as good as the Michael Connelly style thriller it wants to be.

And now, it’s time for my Muriel Spark jag.

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*As to my recent cover poll, I’ve removed it now as I didn’t want to leave it there forever. The conclusion I reached was that Lake/trees is the winner, based on discussions with people who were unable to vote because blogs are blocked where I work. Car took an early lead, but Lake seemed to have the staying power – and was more generic.

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