Friday, May 13, 2011
FFB: Play to the End - Robert Goddard
I am hesitant to make any attempt to do even the sketchiest of plot summaries. If you know Goddard you know that it is practically impossible to due justice to a summary without spoiling some of the surprises. And he has more surprises in his books than any kid would want on Christmas Day. But I'll try to give an overview of sorts.
Toby Flood is a sort of washed up actor who's been relegated to stage work in touring companies. As the book opens he's in a newly discovered Joe Orton thriller/farce in Brighton where his ex-wife lives. She calls him to have him find out who is stalking her. Toby meets up with the peeping Tom - an oddball by the name of Derek Oswin. Toby tries to reason with Derek and get him to lay off his ex-wife. But Derek has an ulterior motive. His stalking of Toby's wife is part of an intricate plan to meet Toby, take advantage of his pining for his ex-wife, and ultimately use him as an instrument of vengeance. And I will say no more.
Goddard's books should be studied by anyone who is interested in writing a suspense novel. His layering and unveiling of the multiple story elements are unmatched. He has an enviable knack of getting the reader to want to know what happens next. The pages can't turn fast enough when you're reading one of his better efforts. Many people complain that he is formulaic. All I can say is that those people have no idea what the word means. He may not be a writer whose books you want to read one right after the other, they're too dense and often Byzantine. But I return to him at least once a month. For my tastes his books are things of beauty. They dazzle me and I admire him all the more for that.