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Goddard, Robert - 'Never Go Back'
Paperback: 369 pages (Nov. 2006) Publisher: Corgi Adult ISBN: 0552152110

A group of ex-RAF veterans gather at a hotel in North East Scotland for a reunion. This is the place they were stationed at during the war - a group of miscreants collected together then to take part in an educational experiment.

But before they've even got as far as Aberdeen, one of them is dead, and before too long another shares his fate. Suspicion falls on Harry, who is visiting from Canada, and his ex-business partner, Barry, who's a bit of a crook.

A third member of the group is found dead, and Harry and Barry uncover other mysterious deaths in the past. Somebody is killing all the members of the group, one by one. It seems that there was something odd about their "educational experiment" during the war, and in order to prove their innocence Harry and Barry must locate the missing members of the unit and piece together what they can to solve the mystery. This involves much travelling about, through North East Scotland, Southern England and the Western Isles.

While the plot is fairly interesting, with the mystery of what was done to the men during the war, I completely failed to warm to any of the veterans - even Harry and Barry seem featureless and flat. They all seemed the same to me - and they were referred to sometimes by name and sometimes by their old RAF nicknames, which just confused the issue further. I just wasn't interested enough in this group of elderly men, gadding about the country on trains and drinking too much, to really care which of them was to be bumped off next.

Furthermore I was disappointed with the lack of description of the places they visited. Royal Deeside, Aberdeen, Swindon and the Western Isles are all places known to me and yet I felt very little sense of place. This novel could have been placed anywhere to much the same effect and the settings were all painted with such a wide brush that no flavour was imparted of what could have been some great locations.

This was the first Robert Goddard I had read, and I was looking forward to it, with the Scottish setting, and because I know he is very popular, but I shan't be rushing to read another.

Pat Austin, England
April 2007

last updated 13/04/2007 20:31