The blurb on the back cover of Robert Goddard’s “Take No Farewell” warns the reader not, on any account, to be tempted to read the last pages first, because in so doing “you’ll spoil the book’s
Occasionally, if I am finding a book a little heavy going, I have been known to flick through the pages to see if events are likely
to speed up a bit. I realise that this is not something I should admit to, having set myself up as a Reviewer of Books but I am nothing if not honest. Anyway I had the warning on the back cover plus a teasing prologue to stop me on this occasion.
As it happens, I wasn’t in the least bit tempted to read ahead. I love a good murder mystery and was fully engrossed in this tale of a man setting out to prove the
innocence of a woman accused of murder - a woman he had loved and betrayed twelve years before.
Geoffrey Staddon is a believable character, a hero
with flaws. He isn’t immediately likeable in view of his earlier behaviour but there’s no doubting his desire to put things right and for this reason the reader has to be on his side as he struggles against the odds to repay his debt to his former
love. This book was originally published under the title Debt of Dishonour and I can’t quite understand why anyone would think the new title more fitting.
It’s a long book, over 550 pages, and full of twists and turns which keep the reader turning the pages, in doing so uncovering a rich cast of well-drawn characters. The woman at the centre of the story, Consuela Caswell, is something of a mystery
but there’s no mistaking the hatred she stirs up among the public at large, baying for her blood. For, yes, as an explanatory note at the start of the book makes clear, this book was set at the time when a conviction for murder meant death by hanging
- so Geoffrey’s increasingly desperate bid to prove Consuela’s innocence takes on added urgency.
I really enjoyed this book - a good, long read - and,
no, I didn’t guess the surprise ending…