Beyond Recall

When Stephen King anointed Robert Goddard as his favorite literary discovery of 2008, his reasoning was that Goddard’s novels offer “surprises that really surprise.” The British author’s backlist is in the midst of being reissued in full, and after reading Beyond Recall, nominated for the Best Novel Edgar Award when first published in 1997, I must concur with Mr. King’s assertion. Goddard sets out his tales with the precision of a Swiss watch, mixing together a flawed hero with a dark past, long-buried secrets bubbling up thanks to historical documents and methodical detection, and steadily building tension that culminates in a satisfying but startling climax. Beyond Recall‘s variation on this theme centers begins when Christian Napier is accosted at a party by an old friend who insists that his father’s death is Christian’s fault. Then the friend hangs himself; spurred by guilt and a need for truth, Napier begins to piece together a tangled web of long-lost children, disputed inheritances, and unsolved murders — a quest that naturally imperils his own life. There’s a refreshing retro feel at work in Beyond Recall, reminding the reader that oldest of motives — sex, money, and power — still wield narrative force.