Never Go Back

Never Go Back

by Robert Goddard

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780385340632
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Publication date: 08/28/2007
Pages: 368
Product dimensions: 6.01(w) x 8.99(h) x 0.83(d)

About the Author

Robert Goddard’s first novel Past Caring was an instant bestseller. Since then his books have captivated readers worldwide with their edge-of-the-seat pace and labyrinthine plots.

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Chapter One


If he had flown back with Donna, of course, it would have been all right. If her flight had been delayed by a couple of hours, it would have been enough. If he had simply turned right instead of left coming out of the cemetery, he would probably have got away with it.

But it was not all right; it was not enough: he did not get away with it. In the end, the ifs and therefores amounted to nothing. Fate had set a trap for him that day. And he walked obligingly and unwittingly straight into it.

Thus did a decade of good fortune for Harry Barnett come to an end without him even realizing it. Marriage and fatherhood had proved during those years to be the sweetest of surprises. He regretted coming to them so late, but the circumstances that had brought Donna and hence their daughter Daisy into his life made the delay inevitable. He had never been one to dwell on missed opportunities. The present -- and their future as a family -- were his to enjoy.

The recent death of his mother had failed to puncture his contentment. A swift and gentle exit at the age of ninety-three was no cause for anguish. Her race had been run to a dignified finish.

Harry's links with his birthplace had effectively died with her. He had returned to Swindon to arrange her funeral and to clear out the house she had lived in for more than seventy years. The Council would want to put another tenant in as soon as possible. The fact that 37 Falmouth Street held so much of Harry's past could not stand in their way. Nor would he have wanted it to. It was time to move on.

That morning, Donna had flown back to Seattle, where Daisy had been staying with her grandparents. Mother and daughter would drive home to Vancouver tomorrow. Harry planned to join them in a week or so, when he had disposed of his mother's clothes, crockery and furniture. It was not a task he was looking forward to. But it had to be done. And there was no-one to do it but him. Such was the lot of an only child.

Seeing off Donna at Heathrow and travelling back alone to Swindon had left Harry feeling sorry for himself, however. He was in no mood to begin emptying cupboards and filling bin-bags. He walked away from the station past the boundary wall of the former Great Western Railway works, then crossed the park and made his way up to Radnor Street, where his old primary school, now converted into offices, stood opposite the entrance to the cemetery.

For the first time in Harry's memory, the gravestone commemorating his father, Stanley Barnett, killed in an accident in the GWR locomotive-erecting shop when Harry was three, no longer stood in its familiar place near the highest point of the cemetery. It had been removed to have the name Ivy Barnett added at long last to the inscription. Harry stood for a few minutes by the flower-strewn mound of earth that marked the spot where his mother's coffin had been lowered in on top of his father's two days ago. He breathed the clear spring air and gazed towards the flat horizon. Then he turned and slowly walked away.

Leaving the cemetery on the far side, he seriously considered making for the Beehive, his local in those distant days when he had been a Swindon householder in his own right and co-proprietor of Barnchase Motors. But he reckoned a descent into beery nostalgia would not be a good start to a week of solitude and toil, so he headed downhill instead to the market hall, where he bought a couple of lamb chops for his supper before returning to Falmouth Street.

It was a mild April afternoon of watery sunshine and warbling birdsong. Even the office blocks of downtown Swindon contrived to appear, if not attractive, then at least inoffensive in the restful light. The Railway Village was quiet and tranquil, a condition the average age of its residents generally guaranteed. Turning his back nobly on the beckoningly bright yellow frontage of the Glue Pot -- or at any rate deciding he should put the lamb chops in the fridge before allowing himself a swift one -- Harry crossed Emlyn Square and started along Falmouth Street.

He saw the two men ahead of him before he realized it was his mother's door they were standing at. They were about his own age, which he would once have described as old, but, now he had attained it, seemed merely a bemusingly high number. One was short and tubby, anoraked, tracksuited and baseballcapped. The other, though scarcely much taller, was thinner, his clothes shabby and old-fashioned -- beltless raincoat, crumpled trousers, laced shoes in need of a polish. He had a full head of white, tousled hair, a beak-nosed, bony face and a put-upon stoop. His companion looked contrastingly at ease with himself, staring at the unanswered door of number 37 with his hands thrust idly into his anorak pockets, sunlight flashing on his glasses in time to the gum-chewing motion of his well-padded jaw. They were debating something in a desultory fashion, or so a shrug of his shoulders suggested. A battered leather suitcase and a smarter, newer holdall stood beside them on the path. Harry did not recognize them, nor could he guess what they wanted. Whatever it was, though, he felt certain they had not come to see him.

Then the thinner of the two spotted him and touched the other's arm. A word passed between them. They turned and looked at Harry. As they did so, he stopped. And everything else stopped too, even the chewing of the gum.

'Ossie?' the fat one said after a moment of silence and immobility. 'That's you, isn't it?'

No-one had called Harry Ossie since his National Service days, which had ended fifty years ago and been largely forgotten by him for almost as long. While his brain sent a none too nimble search party off in quest of memories that might explain this turn of events, he opened his mouth to speak -- but found nothing to say.

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Never Go Back 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 10 reviews.
Tom_D on LibraryThing 8 months ago
The 3 Harry Barnett books are my first taste of Robert Goddard. I enjoyed the Harry's adventures and will read more of Goddard in the future.
jrepman on LibraryThing 8 months ago
RAF Reunion in Scotland-part of a series
edwardsgt on LibraryThing 11 months ago
Having read virtually all of Robert Goddard's books and particularly enjoying Into the Blue and Out of the Sun, featuring the same character (Harry Barnett), I was keen to read this. I wasn't disappointed, as it features Goddard's usual depth of characterisation and unusual story line, as well as in many cases featuring real locations he has obviously researched. The exception being the island of Haskurlay, which doesn't exist, but is based on Mingulay I understand. Highly recommended.
Doubler on LibraryThing 11 months ago
My rating is coloured, perhaps by the fact that the island of Barra is very familiar to me, although I have not been back since 1977. It is quite obvious that either the author or his researcher has visited the island. Haskurlay, for obvious reasons, is an invention, topography based on Mingulay - which is mentioned. There is an interesting story -quite true- about Mingulay. It appears that the people of Castlebay had not heard from the inhabitants of Mingulay for some time and had send a boat down to the island to find that the small population had succumbed to an unspecified disease, save for one man. this unfortunate was marooned on the island for a year for fear he would infect the larger population of Barra. They returned to find the chap still alive. One of his close relatives was still alive when I first went to Barra in 1968 - at the time I was unaware of the story.
TdeV More than 1 year ago
As a lover of crime fiction, it’s perfectly believable that an amateur finds herself knee deep in intrigue. In some mysteries, it’s uncanny (and unrealistic) how suddenly an amateur gets embroiled in yet another murder investigation. But, one argues, some crime must be discovered by amateurs. In real life, how would this work? A friend found a slow beginning in NEVER GO BACK by Robert Goddard ©2006. Not I. I loved this story. Piece by piece the author lays down a snippet, another small tale. Men have died, some long ago. Not too surprisingly, another one does. It takes a long time to know if a death is just a death, or a crime. In 1955 fifteen soldiers took part in a military operation at a Scottish castle commandeered by the Royal Air Force. In the modern day, some plan a reunion at the same castle. Harry Bennett, our protagonist, accidentally discovers the reunion and is swept along with the crowd to Scotland. The story takes place in the present, but we see flashes of the past as Harry uncovers fragments of his memories. These lead him to question his fellow soldiers and their families. He doesn’t understand what he’s discovering, and he can’t quite believe it. The police don’t believe him either. It’s a leisurely journey of many tales, seemingly unrelated, but every small diversion matters. What a fabulous story! If you’re one of those people who like a Cast of Characters, you’ll find an easily downloadable one on the review page on my website of NEVER GO BACK by Robert Goddard. Or write to me and I’ll email it to you. In case you’ve never heard why I think ALL authors should add a Cast of Characters every time, here’s my reasons: http://www.reviewsbytdev.com/content/open-letter-authors
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Library_Gal More than 1 year ago
I cannot put down his books...just wonderful.
harstan More than 1 year ago
In 2005 former RAF pilot Harry Barnett enjoys living in Vancouver, Canada with his his wife and daughter. However, he returns to England for the funeral of his mother. Harry plans to stay as short a time as possible while closing out his late mom¿s affairs. --- However, two veterans from his old military squad find Harry at his mother¿s house. They persuade him to attend a fiftieth anniversary gala of their National Security unit at Scotland¿s Kilveen Castle where they stayed back in 1955 for three months as part of a psychological experiment. However, the good time is shattered with a suicide followed by the death of another compatriot. What frightens Harry is each has different memories of what happened during their three month stay. Although in his late sixties and out of shape Harry and his as old and out of shape former business partner Barry Chipchase investigate what is no longer a party atmosphere. --- The latest Harry Barnett tale is a great suspense thriller as the hero and his partner know they are too old and too out of shape to investigate, but do so anyway. Although this escapade is a stand alone, newcomers would enjoy reading the previous tales first and fans will want to refresh themselves with Harry as it has been a few years (see INTO THE BLUE and OUT OF THE SUN Harry is in his fifties). Thus besides a fabulous thriller, Robert Goddard cleverly ages Harry in real time. --- Harriet Klausner