Synopses & Reviews
Another classic mystery from the "master of the clever twist."
On a summer's day in 1981, a two-year-old girl, Tamsin Hall, was abducted during a picnic at the famous prehistoric site of Avebury in Wiltshire. Her seven-year-old sister Miranda was knocked down and killed by the abductor's van. The girls were in the care of their nanny, Sally Wilkinson.
One of the witnesses to this tragic event was David Umber, a Ph.D student who was waiting at the village pub to keep an appointment with a man called Griffith who claimed he could help Umber with his researches into the letters of "Junius," the pseudonymous eighteenth century polemicist who was his Ph.D subject. But Griffin failed to show up, and Umber never heard from him again. The two-year-old, Tamsin Hall, was never seen again either. The Hall family fell apart under the strain. Sally Wilkinson, the nanny, wound up living with Umber, whom she had met at the inquiry. But she never recovered from the incident, suffered increasingly from depression, and eventually committed suicide.
In the spring of 2004, retired Chief Inspector George Sharp receives a letter signed "Junius" reproaching him for botching the 1981 investigation. Sharp confronts Umber, whose explanation for being at the scene of the tragedy has always seemed dubious. Obliged to accept Umber's denial of authorship of the letter, he nonetheless forces him to join in a search for the real culprit and hence the long-concealed truth about what happened 23 years previously. It is a quest that both will later regret having embarked upon. Too late they come to understand that some mysteries are better left unsolved.
"This compelling stand-alone thriller from British author Goddard (Play to the End) opens in 1981 with the kidnapping of two-year-old Tamsin Hall and the hit-and-run death of Tamsin's seven-year-old sister, Miranda, in the ancient town of Avebury, at the foot of two massive, mysterious monoliths, part of a Neolithic stone circle. Fast forward to the present, where historian David Umber, who witnessed the double crime and later married the children's nanny, hears from now retired Chief Inspector Sharp of the Wiltshire constabulary, who has received an anonymous letter with clues to what happened that center on the identity of an 18th-century political gadfly known by the pseudonym Junius, the subject of Umber's Ph.D. research. Umber's realization that his wife's suicide years before may actually have been murder spurs him to join Sharp in pursuing this new evidence. The solution to both the identity of Junius and the perpetrator of the crimes against the children is satisfying, intelligent and refreshingly straightforward." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"The hook is irresistible, and so is the delicious thrill of watching Umber, like many other Goddard heroes...get led by the nose by every witness he interviews." Kirkus Reviews
When Chief Inspector George Sharp receives a letter signed "Junius" that reproaches him for botching the 1981 investigation into the kidnapping of a little girl, he is drawn back to David Umber, a one-time history student who had witnessed the abduction and whose explanation for being at the scene of the tragedy has always seemed less than forthright. Original.
About the Author
Robert Goddard worked as an education administrator before becoming a full-time novelist. He has written many bestselling novels including Into the Blue (winner of the W.H. Smith Thumping Good Read Award, and dramatized for TV, starring John Thaw.)