When Harry Barnett is informed that his son is in hospital in a diabetic coma, he is certain that there must be some mistake, since he does not have a son. But he soon discovers that he does. David Venning was a brilliant mathematician, and his tragic condition is taken to be the result of an accident or a suicide attempt. But his notebooks are missing, and two other fellow employees have died in suspicious circumstances. Coincidence? Or is David the victim of attempted murder?
©1996 Robert Goddard (P)2012 AudioGO Ltd
Even though Harry Barnett seems a bit more oafish and bungling that he did when he was in Rhodes solving the unsolvable, he pulls this one out of the fire (literally) when the bigger brains could not. It is pure art to see the non-plot evolve into an intricate conspiracy that only the bungler can see or solve.
The only part that was a bit distracting was Goddard's lack of grasp on idiomatic American English. He imbues his Americans with a cruder accent, as would be expected, but they also employ Brit idioms, such as going "to university" or "to hospital", or get "sacked", and they "mean to have done", and "reckon" (when they're not from Texas). They also pronounce "been" like the Brit "bean", and often forget their "Rs". If Americans are really to relate to Goddard's Americans, they need to be more differentiated from the Brits than simply a gruffer and cruder accent.
But that aside, Goddard's books simply unwittingly involve and captivate the reader, much like the hapless Harry Barnett always seems to be drawn into things. This book has a few loose ends, like the ex-lover Iris who doesn't seem to care enough about her and Harry's comatose son and changes moods like most women change clothes. Some of the other characters seem just thrown in, and it is occasionally difficult to figure out why they're there and why we should care. The plot is a bit esoteric and takes a lot of listening closely to scientific theoretical mumbo jumbo, supposedly tied into history and historical figures, but never really fleshes it out in clearly relatable terms.
But, Goddard's books are all worthwhile--the man is a poet writing prose.
"Out of the Sun - straight into a cloud"
A disappointing follow-up to Into the Blue. Robert Goddard's writing style was up to scratch, but the plot just wasn't believable. I was keen to see how Harry Barnett developed after his experiences in the first book, but I felt this was held back by the insertion of the weird "higher dimensions" theme.
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