No Time for Goodbye by Linwood Barclay
This book is a great read. My older daughter had recommended it to me years ago when we were on holiday, but I never got around to reading it! It is a thriller and this time I had no excuse as it was the book promoted by the book group that runs from our village library. I joined the book group some four years ago and it has greatly widened the variety of books I read.
This one has a great premise: Cynthia Bigge is a troublesome young girl, caught out late one night with her boyfriend Vince Fleming — a bad boy from a family of criminals, whom Cynthia’s parents dislike. They are spotted by her father who immediately hauls Cynthia back home. Following a huge family row Cynthia storms off to her bedroom, locks the door, and falls into an all-consuming slumber. In the morning, Cynthia — full of remorse, goes downstairs to find that her whole family has vanished. There’s no note of explanation, no signs of life, and no clues as to their whereabouts.
Understandably Cynthia is worried because, even 25 years later, her family’s disappearance remains a complete mystery.
She marries a high school English teacher named Terry Archer, and they share a modest house in Milford, Connecticut, USA with their 8-year-old daughter, Grace — not far from the Bigges’ old home on Hickory Street. Terry has had to cope throughout their marriage with Cynthia’s longing to learn the fate of her family. Naturally, rumours about what really happened have formed and spread over the last quarter-century.
After her parents and brother vanished, Cynthia was brought up by her aunt Tess Burman, so their bond is strong. Cynthia tells Terry that Tess struggled to raise her, not just emotionally but also financially, as she had a modest job. Somehow, though, Tess, made sure that Cynthia went to university and graduated.
Then things start to go seriously south for the Archer family. Cynthia spots a brown car in their neighbourhood, following her and Grace. Fearing for her daughter’s safety, she starts projecting her paranoia onto Terry. They visit her aunt Tess who speaks to Terry and tells him a secret that she has kept from Cynthia all these years. After visiting Tess, Cynthia and Terry discover that their house has been broken into, and left on their kitchen table is a tatty black fedora hat — the same type of hat that Cynthia’s father, Clayton, used to wear. Cynthia becomes convinced that her family are not dead.
As with all good literary thrillers, No Time for Goodbye is a difficult novel to review, because revealing too much will spoil both the journey the characters have to endure, and the story’s twisting conclusion. I can say that the disappearance of Cynthia Bigge’s family was far more complex than even she imagined.
When I finally finished reading No Time for Goodbye, I sat in silence for a moment gathering my thoughts about an extremely clever novel. Another Linwood Barclay novel, Never Look Away is reviewed here: https://bookreviewstoday.wordpress.com/2013/03/29/never-look-awa…inwood-barclay