Review

Name to a Face

by Robert Goddard

British author Robert Goddard has been called “the master
of the clever twist” and has achieved worldwide acclaim for
producing nearly 20 thrillers within the past few decades. There
are many authors out there who excel at keeping the pages turning
and mastering plot elements to keep readers off balance --- but
there may not be anyone writing today who does it as consistently
and effectively as Goddard.

NAME TO A FACE was originally released in the U.K. in 2007, and
now this excellent book is seeing publication in the U.S. As
Goddard’s reputation has grown, and as more stateside readers
have been introduced to his fine work, we have begun to see more
and more of his previous titles released in the U.S. Reading a
Robert Goddard novel is the equivalent of viewing M. Night
Shyamalan’s The Sixth Sense for the first time. The
unexpected twist at the end of that film had fans reeling, and you
now come to expect the same from all his succeeding efforts.
However, where Shyamalan has failed to repeat the thrill of that
initial success, Goddard has effectively pulled out all sorts of
shocking twists from each of his novels. It is almost distracting
when reading one of his books as you are constantly anticipating
what surprises the master has in store for you.

With NAME TO A FACE, as with many of his novels, the mystery
that transpires takes place in both the past and the present. The
protagonist, Tim Harding, has offered to represent his tax-exile
friend, Barney Tozer, at an auction in Penzance. The intention is
to purchase a ring that has sentimental value to Tozer. However,
Harding has no idea that this apparently simple task is actually
just the tip of the iceberg surrounding the history behind this
antique ring. The ring is actually tied to three tragedies that
have taken place throughout history: the sinking of the HMS
Association
off Sicily in 1707, a murder in Penzance 30 years
later, and the drowning of a journalist diving at the
Association wreck site in 1999.

Harding is quickly alarmed to find that the ring in question is
stolen prior to the auction. As he seeks to take action in
reclaiming it, he begins to uncover some of the infamous history
behind it. Before Harding can get going with his search, a shocking
murder takes place that instantly propels him into a web of
conspiracies surrounding the history of the ring. Most
suspiciously, Harding has an eerie déjà vu experience as
he sees a young woman who he swears he has met before, but
doesn’t know where or when. Harding takes on the additional
task of uncovering who this mystery woman is, having no concept of
the fact that there are those nearby who will go to any lengths to
keep Harding from discovering the truth behind both the mystery
woman and the stolen antique ring.

Harding’s life begins to swirl out of control as he finds
himself trapped within a mystery that is almost surreal. What
Harding is experiencing is actually a signature of many of
Goddard’s works --- the protagonist who steps innocently into
a situation where nothing and no one turns out to be as it/they
seem(s). Additionally, Harding begins to question the motives and
intentions of everyone involved (including Barney Tozer), further
confounding him as he realizes there is no one he can trust. With
his life suddenly complicated almost beyond repair, Harding acts
out of the desperation of survival mode --- and the swirl of
strange events threatens to totally consume him.

I guarantee that any reader who picks up this book will
immediately become a Robert Goddard fan, and I encourage readers to
seek out any and all of his previous titles. Just as the
World’s Fair/Disney World attraction “It’s a
Small World” proclaims that the entire world is more closely
connected than people may realize, I can only hope that the
worldwide appeal of Robert Goddard’s work will now find a fan
base of readers in the United States. NAME TO A FACE might do just
that for him.

Reviewed by Ray Palen on January 12, 2011

Name to a Face
by Robert Goddard

  • Publication Date: June 23, 2009
  • Genres: Fiction, Thriller
  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Delta
  • ISBN-10: 0385342179
  • ISBN-13: 9780385342179