cover image Out of the Sun

Out of the Sun

Robert Goddard. Henry Holt & Company, $25 (400pp) ISBN 978-0-8050-5109-4

Goddard's bestseller status in Britain rests on his ability to tell a suspenseful story--usually one in which dark secrets come to light--in a literate style. His ninth novel revisits Harry Barnett, the ill-starred protagonist of the well-received Into the Blue. Using booze to shut out the pain of personal failure, the ineptly idealistic and ever-chivalrous antihero is stunned back into reality when an anonymous caller informs him that he is the father of David Venning, a 33-year-old mathematical superbrain. Ironically emblematic of the rest of Harry's hapless life, his secret son is hooked up to life support, having slipped into what appears to be an intractable coma after an insulin overdose. But subsequent discoveries leave Harry suspicious: David's closely guarded notebooks are missing, and two of his former colleagues at Globescope, a powerful corporation engaged in worldwide socioeconomic forecasts, have recently died under questionable circumstances. Desperate to save his son, Harry embarks on a quest to find David's ex-lover, a brilliant young authority--as it happens--on treating coma. The trail leads into a maze of sinister corporate machinations and long-forgotten academic politics suggesting a conspiracy to repress David's startling mathematical calculations--which may reveal an expanded physical order of the universe. Bittersweet romance is overshadowed by suspicion and murder as Harry is menaced from forces in the world as he knows it and from someplace that has something to do with hyper-dimensionalism. This harrowing odyssey leads from Europe across the U.S. and back to England before Harry uncovers the truth in a heartstopping climactic confrontation. Goddard's considerable skills as a storyteller offset Harry's chronic lapses into tedious exercises of boozy self-recrimination. (June) FYI: Into the Blue is currently being made into a film in the U.K.