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No Time For Goodbye - Linwood Barclay

Review by Lizzie Guilfoyle

IN 2008, the thriller No Time For Goodbye by Toronto-based writer Linwood Barclay was winner of the Richard and Judy Summer Read, so you’d expect it to be good. But is it?

At the age of 14 and after a particularly angry confrontation with her father involving a boy and some unfinished homework, Cynthia Bigge wakes up to find herself alone in the family home in Milford, USA. Her parents and brother Todd have disappeared – vanished without a trace.

Twenty five years later, Cynthia is persuaded to return to her former home by a television news/entertainment show planning to resurrect the case. Now married to Terry Archer with whom she has a daughter Grace, she’s hoping for answers to questions that still haunt her. Was her family murdered or abducted? If so, why was she spared? And if they are alive, why did they abandon her?

No Time For Goodbye is fast paced and doesn’t stint on action – the wheelchair getaway (and no, wheelchair isn’t a typing error) is just one example guaranteed to keep the pages turning. And at times, it’s strangely unsettling although this could have more to do with yours truly reading late into the night than Barclay’s skill as a writer. Yet to be fair, he manages to create just the right amount of tension to effect a chilling climax.

There is, however, a rawness to his work – a lack of style if you like – that nevertheless suits the genre very well. On the odd occasion, it even infects his imagery – as in the case of psychic Paula Malloy who, on greeting Cynthia, oozes ‘charm like a runny sore’. So definitely not someone you’d want to meet.

In fact, his characters are bold and not afraid to call a spade a spade so you can expect the kind of language that would have a maiden aunt blushing to the roots of her neatly coiffured peroxide curls. But No Time for Goodbye is a contemporary novel with an adult theme and for that reason alone the language is entirely relevant – though quite what that says about today’s society is another matter.

As for the mystery surrounding the family’s disappearance, you’ll probably have it partly sussed before too long. However, the ending delivers a neat and unexpected twist that certainly makes it all worthwhile.

So yes, No Time For Goodbye is good and if you like thrillers it should be right up your street.