One fateful summer evening, businessman Robin Timariot meets a strikingly beautiful woman while out walking. They exchange only a few words, but those words prove to be unforgettable. A few days later, the newspapers are full of the rape and murder of Lady Louise Paxton - and to his horror, Timariot realises that this was the woman he met just hours before her death.
A man is swiftly charged and convicted of the crime, but a series of bizarre events begin to convince Timariot that all is not what it seems. Against his better judgement, he is soon sucked into the tortuous complexity of the dead woman's life. But the closer Timariot gets to the truth, the more hideous and uncertain it seems to be. And far too late, he realizes that anybody who uncovers it is unlikely to live...
Goddard's excellent line of British psychological thrillers gets its long-deserved christening from an American publisher with this novel, to be released simultaneously with Into the Blue as part of a six-book relaunch. The plot springs from a chance encounter between English businessman Robin Timariot and Lady Louise Paxton, who meet briefly while hiking one day near Wales in July of 1990. Hours later, Paxton is found, raped and strangled, in a nearby cottage. Over the next several months and, eventually, years, Timariot is steadily drawn to the case. He watches as a local drifter is convicted of the murder, and the Paxton family slowly disintegrates into bitter rivalries, suicides and tensions caused by the crime's scandalous nature. Meanwhile, Timariot, heir to an old-line cricket bat manufacturing company, must navigate his own internecine family squabbles fueled by the company's lagging position in the marketplace. Goddard writes in measured, graceful strokes that seductively charm the reader first with an amicable grip, then with an inexorable clench. As with many of his 16 novels, Goddard's plotting is an elegant mix of secrets, deceits and slowly unfolding horrors. His characters, curiously one-dimensional on first inspection, quickly turn into accordions of personality and behavior.