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Review of 'Sight Unseen', a novel by Robert Goddard.
I am reviewing the paperback version of this novel.
Published in 2005 by Bantam Press, 369 pages, ISBN 978-0593053645, cover price £7.99. Genre :- Crime/Thriller.
The story begins in the summer of 1981. David Umber is a PHD student who is researching the Junius letters, these anonymous letters were written to the press some 200 years earlier. David had received a phone call from a Mr Griffin, who claims to have information which will aid David's research. The men are to meet at a pub in the village of Avebury.
As David sits outside the pub waiting for his contact, a young woman with three children, a boy and two girls, comes into view. The older two children are running ahead. As David watches, a fast running man appears from nowhere, snatches up the youngest child and bundles her into a parked van, which roars away.
The woman and one of the children give chase, the little girl runs into the road to try to stop the van, but she is mown down and killed. This has all happened in a flash and it is a shocking, distressing incident to witness.
Fast forward 23 years and we meet David Umber once more.
He is working as a tour guide in Prague. David's wife is dead, having killed herself after the pair separated. David leads a rootless existence, getting work where he can and frequently moving around Europe.
After one of David's walking tours, one if the tourists lingers and approaches David. It is a blast from the past as the tourist is none other than George Sharp, a retired Police Inspector who worked on the Avebury case.
Sharp has some new information and persuades David to return to England with him where the pair try to unravel the mystery of the child abduction and consequent events.
The tragedy that robbed a family of two children started in Avebury, but where does it end?
Robert Goddard was born in 1954, in Hampshire. He read History at Cambridge, qualified as a a teacher and worked worked as a local government officer for ten years in Devon, before becoming a full-time novelist. He has produced over 20 best selling thriller novels. Robert Goddard is married and currently lives in Truro, Cornwall.
More about the author and a full bibliography can be found on his website:- http://www.robertgoddardbooks.co.uk
**My Thoughts and Conclusion**
Robert Goddard is an author that I was not totally unfamiliar with, having read a couple of his novels previously. I spotted 'Sight Unseen' in my local Asda's winter sale priced at a bargain £1 and snapped it up.
Sight Unseen is a classic crime thriller tale, the plot is dense with twists and turns, keeping the reader enthralled as it wends its way across the happenings of two decades. The plot is very well crafted, the writing style is as crisp and precise as it is in most of Goddard's books.
The characters in the novel are richly described and on the whole, believable. A wealth of memorable and diverse characters enhance this novel, some are likeable and others most definitely not!
The novel does cover rather unsavoury events in the abduction of one child and the death of another, but these happenings are not described in a gratuitous fashion. The author has managed to convey the traumatic experience in a factual yet realistic way.
**A couple of negative niggles**
I have to say that I considered one or two characters in this novel to be totally pointless. I thought that they had no real impact or bearing on the plot. This is of course, my personal opinion and perhaps I missed something!
I also found the frequent references and quotes from the writing of Junius, the pseudonym of the eighteenth century polemicist, a bit tedious. The link to Junius appeared somewhat tenuous at first and although it became clearer as the novel unfolded, I cannot expand on that for fear of spoiling the plot for others!
In spite of the niggles above, I enjoyed this novel very much. I have read other books by this author as mentioned and I feel that 'Sight Unseen' is a memorable thriller from the pen of the master of the dramatic twist!
I would recommend Sight Unseen to others and am awarding the novel a 4*rating.