After this paragraph, spoilers abound, but right now you’re safe. If you’ve never read a Goddard novel, do it. His stories are long, complex and wholly satisfying if not entirely original. I read a lot of thrillers and mysteries, so quite often I can predict how a plot point is going to turn. The thing of it is, Goddard binds his readers to the story with this knowledge not by astounding you every five minutes with some fantastical twist. He doesn’t need smoke and mirrors to keep a reader going. He does it by knowing how to set tension, creating interesting characters that still have surprises up their sleeves and by helping you get ahead of the story and urging the protagonist to catch up. I’ve read his first novel (this one) and his latest (Long Time Coming) and both are equally good; quality, long-arc thrillers spiced with historical detail and real-life characters. I will definitely read more.
Spoilers set to kill.
While only my second Goddard novel, I’m not surprised at how he weaves his tales. This one is long and complex with lots of players, but I loved every minute of it. Edwin’s memoir is so tantalizing as a device and for itself and so was the search for the post-script. As soon as its existence was revealed I knew where it had to be hidden and silently urged Martin to think and could hardly bear his fumbling when I knew where it was all along! It takes a deft hand to tie a reader to the story so completely. The current trend seems to want to only do this with unknowable and unforeseeable twists in the story, but Goddard does it with knowledge, binding you to his protagonists through mutual desire for success.
From Martin’s dissipated self-interest to Eve’s two-faced game playing and Edwin’s ineffectual victimhood the story never felt slack or stale even though I could guess a lot of it. What else but a secret marriage would be Edwin’s undoing? What else could have been Martin’s undoing? Of course Eve was not as she seemed. Alex was on shaky ground to begin with. And of course Elizabeth would always be the long-suffering innocent. The only thing that threw me was Leo’s ultimate purpose. It seemed really strange to me that he’d take out his vitriol and long-distilled hatred on an innocent old woman who had nothing to do with his circumstances. Strange, but the way he morphed from kindly patron to vicious criminal mastermind was very well done. Sure he was a bit of a cliché and the whole gun incident set up the penultimate ending, with Martin’s reward at the end being the capper. Satisfying if not wholly original. I’ll definitely read more of Goddard in future.
Love a good mystery or thriller.
It was a complex story but had so many twists and turns you just had to keep listening.
I don't think I have heard or read a book quite like this one.
This master story teller is a master at accents and different voices.
My favourite character was the narator, despite his flawed character and bad past.
Mom, married, website designer, portfolio manager in self-imposed exile (yeah Greg Smith!!), former California native, Episcopalian.
This is the third Goddard book I've listened to and I found it to be quite engrossing. The plot has plenty of good twists, some which can be foreseen. However, even when a revelation was expected, I still was eager to see how Goddard would present it. The narrator was excellent. I particularly enjoyed his Churchill. It has been lots of fun and I'm sorry to find I'm in the last hour of listening.
This is one of those rare books that will make you wish you haven't read / listened to it just so the pleasure of it would still be in your future. Goddard's prose is highly eloquent. His use of language is simply stunning. The characters have the right amount of depth and complexity while still being possible to relate to them. The story is not very high octane, but it is very gripping. A nearly perfect book in many respects.
Top 5 books both for story and narration
The author gives you enough hints to figure out what is going before the protagonist does BUT you never really know what is going to happen next.
I liked the fact that Paul Shelley wasn't "performing" but just reading the story in a captivating but calm voice that let the story and all the characters shine through. The novel was the star, not Paul Shelley, and that is the mark of a great narrator for me.
Elizabeth, Edwin, and Martin. They were the key characters that made the story real and compelling.
I loved this book. Aside from Dying To Tell, it is my favorite Robert Goddard novel. Paul Shelley is a great reader too! Please give him more narration work! I would listen to a book for his narration.
It could have been a lot shorter. The central mystery is presented several times from different viewpoints. I'm not that good at guessing in mysteries but here it was pretty obvious where things were going. I also thought some of the characters weren't very realistic.
Maybe a shorter one to see if it was more tightly written. I did like the combination of history, politics and mystery.
The narration was quite good, it definitely helped keep me interested.
Not all of it. I am a fast reader on paper so I think that would have been a better format where I could have skimmed through parts.
You have to suspend disbelief that someone would write a memoir with long conversations reproduced verbatim.
Past Caring is a good book with an interesting plot and well woven characters. I enjoyed it !
One of the best moments in Audiobook listening is trying out a new author and feeling you've struck gold, that you'll want to 'mine' their other books before you're done. Robert Goddard was completely new to me and I don't remember how I chose to put this book in my wishlist. But he's a terrific writer and I will definitely read more. I would call his writing style 'leisurely', but it never drags. The plot twists are amazing, but they are consistent with what we know of the characters and life in general. The plot twists are startling, yet plausible at the same time, making it a very good story. It's the kind of book you want to keep listening to for hours, ignoring everything else, including sleep. The narrator was top notch and I would choose him again.