cover image Closed Circle

Closed Circle

Robert Goddard. Poseidon Press, $21.5 (331pp) ISBN 978-0-671-75072-5

Goddard's seventh novel (after A Debt of Dishonor ) about two dapper English con men in the 1930s, gets off to a droll and snappy beginning. Aboard ship after narrowly escaping prosecution for a financial scam in America, Guy Horton and Max Wingate meet a beautiful heiress, who they think is ripe for their particular brand of seduce-and-extort scheme. But their plans go awry when Max falls in love with Diana Charnwood and enlists Guy's help in an elopement that will ultimately leave her financier father dead, and Max accused of his murder. When Guy supplants Max as the main object of Diana's affections, a jealous brawl results in a second death--Max's. With this event, Goddard's lightly cynical buddy story becomes a political mystery. While halfheartedly attempting to prove Max's innocence--and pursuing Charnwood's disappeared millions as well as his deceitful daughter--Guy is drawn into an international conspiracy involving murder, money and war. Although Goddard is adept at intricate plotting, there is one major misstep; Max and Guy make an appealing duo but Guy alone isn't a strong enough character to carry the story solo, and thus Closed Circle fails to fulfill early promises of immense readability. (Jan.)