Elmore Leonard said that a book or a chapter should never open with a description of the weather. That’s generally good writing advice, but from the moment I read “The skies over Gatwick were an insipid grey” I was hooked by the writing of Robert Goddard. He is enormously popular in the UK but for some reason his books have not leapt the pond.
He writes intricately plotted thrillers and mysteries, some set in the present day and some in the past. My favorite is Past Caring, but of his 20 books there are very few that wouldn’t qualify as a “thumping good read” (The name of one of the awards he has won).
In addition to wickedly surprising plots, no Goddard book is without some turns of phrase that stay with you: “Tintagel is a strange looking place, and it’s stranger than it looks”, “It was one of those moments where the aimless ramble of my life took on the fleeting dignity of a plan”. Many of Goddard narrators are flawed people, which heightens the suspense. Rather than being guided along by a Sherlock Holmes-type who illuminates everything for the reader, you can never tell when the protagonist has understood what is really going on, or just thinks he has.
If you are in the UK, you can find a well-thumbed Goddard paperback in virtually any of the charity shops. It will be a pound more than well spent. Otherwise, that’s why God gave us Amazon.com