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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.

The Blurb

Fourteen-year-old Cynthia Bigge woke one morning to discover that her entire family, mother, father, brother had vanished. No note, no trace, no return. Ever. Now, twenty-five years later, she'll learn the devastating truth

Sometimes better not to know. . .

Cynthia is happily married with a young daughter, a new family. But the story of her old family isn't over. A strange car in the neighborhood, untraceable phone calls, ominous gifts, someone has returned to her hometown to finish what was started twenty-five years ago. And no one's innocence is guaranteed, not even her own. By the time Cynthia discovers her killer's shocking identity, it will again be too late . . . even for goodbye.

The Review

No Time for Goodbye 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. I highly recommend this book.

The Author

Linwood Barclay is the #1 internationally bestselling author of seventeen novels for adults, including No Time for Goodbye, Trust Your Eyes and, most recently, A Noise Downstairs. He has also written two novels for children and screenplays.

Three of those seventeen novels comprise the epic Promise Falls trilogy: Broken Promise, Far From True, and The Twenty-Three. His two novels for children – Chase and Escape – star a computer-enhanced dog named Chipper who’s on the run from the evil organization that turned him into a super-pup.

After spending his formative years helping run a cottage resort and trailer park after his father died when he was 16, Barclay got his first newspaper job at the Peterborough Examiner, a small Ontario daily. In 1981, he joined the Toronto Star, Canada’s largest circulation newspaper.

He held such positions as assistant city editor, chief copy editor, news editor, and Life section editor, before becoming the paper’s humour columnist in 1993. He was one of the paper’s most popular columnists before retiring from the position in 2008 to work exclusively on books.

When I met Barclay some years ago, I found him to be a delightful person as well as an excellent storyteller.

Valerie Penny


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