cover image Borrowed Time

Borrowed Time

Robert Goddard, . . Bantam Dell/Delta, $12 (397pp) ISBN 978-0-385-33922-3

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. (Jan. 31)