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Publisher's Summary

On a mild autumn afternoon in 1882, William Trenchard sits smoking his pipe in the garden of his comfortable family home. When the creak of the garden gate heralds the arrival of an unexpected stranger, he is puzzled but not alarmed. He cannot know the destruction this man will wreak on all he holds most dear.

©1989 Robert and Vaunda Goddard (P)2012 Audible Ltd

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

  • 4.0 out of 5.0
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Performance

  • 4.3 out of 5.0
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Story

  • 3.9 out of 5.0
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  • Janice
  • Sugar Land, TX, United States
  • 04-29-13

Skeletons in every closet

I detest spoilers, so I have been wracking my brain trying to decide how to write a useful review of this book without giving away crucial information. Clearly the central mystery is to determine whether James Norton is really Sir James Davenall returned from the dead. The multitude of characters take sides for or against, with several being uncertain. I took all three positions at different times. This long and densely plotted mystery gives up its clues sparsely and cunningly, requiring you to pay close attention and remember what you’ve heard especially regarding names and dates. The Davenall family has more skeletons in their closets than a whole host of haunted houses. Different interested parties are tracking down different skeletons, resulting in the puzzle pieces being distributed among a variety of characters acting on their own agendas, and not necessarily sharing with the others. Sometimes I thought I had a thread untangled only to be confounded by new information from another direction. I really did have to wait to the end to get all the puzzle pieces in place, and there were still surprises once I got there, with a hint of menace left in the final scene.

This is my first Goddard book, but not the last. The writing is wonderful, and the reading by Michael Kitchen puts this on my list of best narrated books. He is by turns smooth, intense, emotional, cruel and bewildered. He handles male and female, young and old voices believably, adding drama and atmosphere without calling distracting attention to himself. A tour de force performance that has me looking for more of his readings.

37 of 38 people found this review helpful

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Never a slow moment, may be Goddard's best.

I have listened to a lot of Goddard's books and this one is easily in the top three if not the best. You quickly get into the characters and scene of the 1800s and the twists of plot keep you wanting for more. Typically I feel Goddard's books don't have the great ending but are enjoyable for the story and characters. This one has both. The narrator should get 6 stars. Highest recommendation in my book.

14 of 14 people found this review helpful

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  • Janie
  • CAIRNS, Australia
  • 11-02-13

mystery, mysteries, and more mysteries!!

If you love mysteries, then this book is for you. There are more mysteries in this book than 'you can poke a stick at. ' The book is well written, set in the late nineteenth century and just when you think you have gleaned the mystery, not another one, but two, three and even four or more pop up just to fan the fires of intrigue, which make you want to never put this book down. The characters are all interesting in their own right and well drawn by the author. Michael Kitchen's narration is more than just that, it is a superb performance and I will be looking out for other books 'read' by him. This is the first Goddard I have read but it certainly won't be the last. If you enjoy mysteries for intellectual satisfaction rather than for 'blood and gore' then you will enjoy this book. Highly recommended.

10 of 10 people found this review helpful

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  • Performance
  • Story

Mesmerizing

Would you listen to Painting the Darkness again? Why?

I would listen again for two reasons. Primarily for Michael Kitchen's compelling voice. I felt like the snakes in Ireland when they heard the Pied Piper's music. I could hardly shut it off. <br/> The story had me feeling as if I were on a literary tilt-a-whirl. I didn't want it to end.<br/>

What other book might you compare Painting the Darkness to and why?

Robert Goddards novels are similar in style and something I definitely enjoy.

What about Michael Kitchen’s performance did you like?

Everything. His voice is incredible. I was so taken by it that ,as I said I couldn't shut off the book.

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

No

Any additional comments?

This book is so complex, and intricate, that I am amazed how the author could keep the story line in his head. Truly a genius.

10 of 10 people found this review helpful

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  • cristina
  • Somerville, MA, United States
  • 05-30-13

The plot thickens...and thickens, but nicely

A very entertaining mystery about a family with a very complicated past. When a stranger appears in town claiming to be the long-presumed-dead son, everyone takes sides either believing him or claiming he is an impostor. Is he, or isn't he, you wonder...and wonder. Every character has his or her own agenda when pursuing the answer, allowing Mr. Goddard to feed you bits and pieces of the puzzle from various directions. You think you have figured it out, only to be confounded time and time again by the next revelation.

There are times when the scenes could have used some editing, and there are one or two instances when the characters' actions seem a bit of a stretch. However, my interest never waned.

This was my first Goddard mystery, but I have already downloaded a second.

Mr. Kitchen's performance, as other reviewers have mentioned, is top notch.

8 of 8 people found this review helpful

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  • Story

Held me in its clutches

I just discovered Robert Goddard. I purchased this book because it is narrated by Michael Kitchen, the actor extraordinaire. I knew practically nothing about Goddard's writing prior to this novel.

This is a fascinating, fabulous and captivating listen. If you are looking for an exceptional story and a true fan of high quality historical mystery, this book will be right up your alley.
There are loads of twists and turns. Every time I thought I had solved the mystery, I was wrong!

I don't like to compare authors, but if you are an Anne Perry fan, you will love Painting the Darkness.

I could listen to Michael Kitchen's narration and talent until the cows come home. What a range of characters he can pull off. Brilliant narration and true acting at its finest. He should do more of this work!

Buy it, read it, share the buzz! A must read.

7 of 7 people found this review helpful

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One of the best!

What does Michael Kitchen bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

I picked Painting the Darkness because it was narrated by Michael Kitchen, loving his voice I thought he could not choose a bad book to narrate, I was correct.<br/><br/>This is the first Robert Goddard book I have listened to, in fact I had not heard of him until I did some research. He is one of the Sunday Times top 10 Best Selling authors in the UK. Where have I been?<br/><br/>This is a great mystery thriller in a historical setting. It has fabulous descriptions of settings in London, country houses, period manners, and true to life characters. The words and phrasings are great. The plot has many twists and turns and seems convoluted but It is a simple story of manipulation, conspiracy, betrayal, and greed. It could very well happen today. I will be on the lookout for my next Goddard book, hope you enjoy yours.

7 of 7 people found this review helpful

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FASCINATING

I ENJOYED THE BOOK,ITS INTRIGUING PLOT,THE EXCELLENT PERFORMANCE, AND ESPECIALLY THE FINE,IF A LITTLE OLD-FASHONED, LANGUAGE.RECOMMENDED.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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Unable to stop listening.

I am often easily bored with novels, but this one was not only well written, but it's plot was so intriguing that I found myself neglecting everything I needed to do, to keep listening to try to find out, if I would be able to dismiss this, with a "Oh, I know where this is going," and put it down, so I could go about my business.

Fascinating characters which are well drawn.

I would highly recommend this book to those who are jaundiced with formulae plots, and want to be kept guessing.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Couldn't get into it

This book wasn’t for you, but who do you think might enjoy it more?

Perhaps people who enjoy historical fiction

Has Painting the Darkness turned you off from other books in this genre?

Probably

Who would you have cast as narrator instead of Michael Kitchen?

Don't know that much about British narrators.

You didn’t love this book... but did it have any redeeming qualities?

Couldn't get far enough along. Simply didn't hold my interest.

Any additional comments?

I found the plot uninteresting, predictable and too slow moving. Decided to try it because of all the good reviews but it really wasn't for me!

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Overall
  • Kirstine
  • 03-26-13

Goddard at his best

I have read or listened to all Robert Goddard's book and rate this one the finest. I read it many years ago and it is one of the most memorable books I've encountered for the sheer roller-coaster of twists and turns. I had forgotten many of the details so greatly enjoyed re-visiting this amazing story. It's one of those books that entice one to keep listening, eager to find out what happens next. Michael Kitchen, as always, does an admirable job of narration. Highly recommended.

12 of 12 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Sue from France
  • 12-23-12

Robert Goddard at his best. HIS VERY BEST

Robert Goddard is a very underestimated writer, this book was gripping, full of Roberts usual threads (the main character always follows a series of actions), the story delightfully long, as it needed to be with the plot unfolding through a first person and third person nattative. It was brought to life by Michael Kitchens reading. At first I was unsure of the reading style, but it proved to be perfect for the story. Without giving anything away, you will be kept guessing up to the end. Typical Robert Goddard. Listen to this book and I will eat my hat if you don't want to order another Robert Goddard book.

7 of 7 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Mandie
  • 12-14-12

Good Story, well read

this is about the third Robert Goddard I have read, and his writing certainly improves the more I read. This book was very enjoyable to listen to - Michael Kitchen read excellently. Story certainly had a lot of twists and turns, which kept me wanting to keep listening to see what was happening. Will certainly be downloading another Robert Goddard book soon.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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  • mollyeyre
  • 07-08-13

Intense

I am actually listening to this for a second time, it is full of intrigue and suspense - one can 'see' our hero's downfall coming - but cannot do anything to stop him falling headlong into disaster.

I have enjoyed this book, though now, on the second reading I am feeling quite stressed on his behalf, and sometimes I have to leave it alone for a little while. Consequently it is taking me longer to read than I usually take over books. I think that this shows that the writing is superb, Robert Goddard is excellent!



3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • colin
  • 01-20-13

masterful twists upon twists

Robert Goddard has no equal in the intelligence, twist and cunning of character and plot. If you like your books to be thrilling and unpredictable then no Goddard book would disappoint. This and his other books are rich is subtly, observation, personalities, emotions and moral issues. Nothing is bland nothing is straightforward. All is entertaining and rewarding.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • Janice
  • 05-18-13

Robert Goddard wins again

I'm a fan of Robert Goddard and have listened to all of his books, enjoying the maze of plots and unpredictable characters he creates. If you like Victorian novels, this one is up to his usual high standard, transporting us back and putting us in the shoes of poor William Trenchard whose cosy family life is destroyed by the arrival of a stranger at his house one day, who presents himself as a man everyone thought had been dead for 10 years. Michael Kitchen's narration is calm and unhurried, the plot twists and turns with surprises round each corner. Will you be able to predict the ending?

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Joseph
  • 04-13-13

Written well, and engaging from first page to last

This is what makes Goddard one of the best writers of fiction alive today. And I do not say that lightly. He paints an innocent picture with believable characters so calmly and well timed. The story, starting plainly becoming more complex and interwoven until all you assumed was, might not be. The plots are so believable and put a mirror to the human condition so well. I have never found a poor piece of work by Goddard and have been reading his books since 1978.

Get it, you will enjoy it. Andy McNab it is not. Goddard shows you how complex ordinary life can get. So if you like a complex believable story with real flawed and human characters each with failing's, courage, hope and regret. This is for you.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Michael Astrop
  • 04-03-13

Painting the Darkness

The combination of Robert Goddard's text and Michael Kitchens narration is a superb marriage that brings to life the late Victorian world and the pressures and protocols that existed. The story keeps you on the edge until the very end, initially It all seemed straight forward and in fact I could not see how it would cover such a long playing time but Goddard gradually unfolds the slight twists and turns of the plot. An intriguing tale of inheritance and dalliance and the long term consequences that continue down the years and envelope so many in their wake; totally fascinating and an absolue joy to listen to. I like Michael Kitchen from his TV appearances but he is perfect here and has that correct degree of Victorian understatement. Highly recomended a great read.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • AmyAlice
  • 02-19-14

Painting the Darkness

A solid mistaken identity story told with Goddard's usual mix of layered characters, flawed motives and heartbreak.
We folllow a young woman who has been married a few years when her fiance 'returns' having supposedly drowned 7 years earlier. We 'watch' this situation develop from the point of view of the girl, her husband, the fiance's brother - who has inherited a large estate- and the fiance's mother. Some believe him, some dont, others seek to find proof to have it decided one way or the other. The listener is pulled from one side to the other - manipulated deftly by Robert Goddard's handling of the plot.
Great book, well and clearly narrated.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • mrs
  • 11-28-13

Twists, turns and an unexpected end.

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

Yes,

What did you like best about this story?

Kept me guessing right up to the end.

What does Michael Kitchen bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you had only read the book?

Excellent, just the right tone.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

As it was a very long book of more than 20 hours, I knew that it would be a book to savour.

Any additional comments?

What I particularly like about Robert Goddard's characters is that they are distinctive and there aren't too many of them. <br/>My only criticism is that it was a little slow at the beginning.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful