This is my review of Found Wanting by Robert Goddard.
A few years ago, the discovery of Robert Goddard's books saved me from acute boredom when laid up with a broken ankle. Since then, I have loyally read each book as it appears in paperback, but have found the last few offerings disappointing.
I agree with the tenor of many previous reviews that "Found Wanting" (winced over the corny origin of the title revealed near the end) is a pale shadow of Robert Goddard's earlier works. My main criticism is of the style of writing which seems to have been spewed out without much reflection. Rather on the lines of Sansom's "Revelation", or Peter Robinson's detective thrillers, very successful writers appear to grow complacent and churn out tales which they know will be instant bestsellers regardless of quality. This is somewhat insulting to the reader…..
Descriptions of the many cities visited were too often lists of landmarks, I imagined being written with guidebook in hand, although some of the descriptions of the flat snowy Scandinavian countryside were quite good.
Although tempted to discard the book early on, the old Goddard hook began to catch with the questions around the identity of Anastasia, and the familiar convoluted plot twists. I quite liked the cliffhanger at the end of many chapters, and the impossibly tight spots in which the improbably ingenious and courageous Eusden found himself – even if some scenes were implausible – Why on earth did he agree to make himself into a running target at the end? And the romance with Pernille was corny and undeveloped, as was the triangular relationship between his old friend and ex-wife.
I once read a Robert Goddard twice by mistake, which makes me ask whether it wouldn't be better for him to stop and let us reread his best works every few years – but no doubt it is too tempting for him to cash in on the momentum he has created.