I’m notorious for swooping into WH Smiths and vacuuming up interesting looking books that are on offer, and I think that’s where I got Linwood Barclay’s No Time for Goodbye. It sat on a bookshelf collecting dust for several years, until I decided that I should, you know, read it.
In a nutshell
Cynthia’s family vanished one morning when she was 14. There were no clues to where they had gone, or why they had left her behind. Twenty-five years later, she decides to put out another appeal for information, but is it too late to find out what really happened?
I didn’t find the opening chapters very engaging. It starts out as a mystery, intertwined with the main characters everyday lives. It felt like not very much was happening, and the main character was just odd (which is justified when you think about what happened to her). I just wanted something to happen.
The short chapters were a great choice. At the start of the book, it helped me to think “just read one more chapter, maybe something will happen in the next one”. Later in the book, when the action all kicked off, the short chapters added to the tension.
The middle of the book started to delve into the main character’s psyche. I won’t say too much about it (spoilers!) but because of the work done in the first chapters, I started to understand and relate to the viewpoint character (her husband) as he wondered what his wife was really up to.
Packed with action and discoveries, the last chapters confirmed some suspicions I had, and made love certain character who didn’t seem that loveable at first reading.
The dialogue was great. It demonstrated that you can also show or tell with dialogue. I would say that The Cuckoo’s Calling had a lot of tell dialogue. “This character is a rough working class bloke!” it screamed, as it whacked you over the head with a sledgehammer. Barclay shows rather than tells. The character uses different words, carries themselves differently, and has distinctive mannerisms. He lets the reader imagine how the character sounds.
The book is outrageous. One character is especially vile. I loved it.
Not only did I gasp on several occasions, but I also cheered and cried. To me, that’s the mark of a good book.