DYING TO TELL by Robert Goddard (Review)

This is the first Robert Goddard book I have read. I was both surprised and impressed. I was expecting the usual divorced and hard-drinking tough guy at home on the mean streets of New York or Los Angeles, London, Glasgow or Paris, Amsterdam or Marseilles – or the cosmopolitan version at home everywhere, be it any of the above or Cairo or Rio, Casablana, Madras or Hong-Kong.

But no. I got an unmarried, unemployed resident of Glastonbury who was perfectly content with his life just the way it was. The only thing he had in common with the aforementioned tough guys was that he enjoyed a drink or three. And when the going got tough (and the tough guys got going) he enjoyed a drink even more – preferably with his mates in the local after signing on for the dole.

But, as you will have guessed, our hero (for he is certainly not an anti-hero) gets going to, when needs must. Under protest, of course.

At one point he describes himself (to a woman who has become involved through no fault of her own) as a natural quitter. Later, when she tells him it’s time to quit, it’s getting much too dangerous, he surprises himself – and us! – by saying “The time to quit has come and gone.”

I won’t tell you about the plot. Surely it is enough to know that here you have a local lad without a penny in his pocket taking on highly organised crime (think Great Train Robbery and John F. Kennedy Assassination) in places as far apart as Berlin, Tokyo, San Francisco and – yes – Somerset, and winning!