cover image Painting the Darkness

Painting the Darkness

Robert Goddard. Poseidon Press, $19.45 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-671-64947-0

When a strange man appears in William Trenchard's garden in St. John's Wood, one evening in 1882, and claims to be the former fiance of his wife Constance, Trenchard's whole life is overwhelmed. James Davenall had been missing, declared a suicide, for 11 years--and his younger brother Hugo had inherited the Davenall baronetcy. Yet, if James ``Norton,'' as he calls himself, is not the missing man, who is he? And why does his mother Catherine call Norton an imposter while Constance recognizes him as her lost love? A sensational trial that threatens to eclipse the famous Tichborne Case looms as Trenchard (who's fighting to hold on to his wife and his mental equilibrium) and Richard Davenall--a cousin, who may be Hugo's father--certain that Norton is a phony, carry out their own investigations. The outcome of the trial is tragic and explosive, and the surprises and mystery continue as Richard changes his mind about James, and as the tight and intricate plot moves back and forth in time. A large cast of characters plays a part in the mystery, as becomes clear in the shocking denouement. Goddard ( In Pale Battalions ) goes from strength to strength in terms of invention, and this exciting story, with its careful complexity and completeness--no loose ends--is a joy to read. Literary Guild alternate. (Sept.)