I'm a huge Goddard fan. Since reading Into The Blue during the summer when it won the Thumping Good Read award, I have read all his books, some several times. I'd rank him as my favourite author, bar none.
... I struggled to get through this one. I'd pick it up, but even after a couple of paragraphs, I'd find my mind wandering. It's a spy story, and when compared with other novels in this genre, there is nothing much wrong with it, hence the 3 stars. A load of blokes go round annihilating each other. Characters are introduced and killed in short order. No matter, plenty more where they came from. There is no emotional depth at all, not much in the way of back stories, no reason for you to care what happens. Maxted (the central protagonist) asks someone to do something. Moments later, they are dead. Does this give him pause for thought, a moment of regret? Nope!
Anyone who knows (and loves) the Goddard of Past Caring, In Pale Battalions, Beyond Recall, Hand In Glove, or Painting The Darkness (to name but a few examples), will know that he is capable of writing books with cracking story lines, full of mystery and intrigue and twists and turns, but where you care about the characters. Where their stories stay with you for years. Where you reread and feel as though you are meeting old friends. Where you are grabbed from the first paragraph and held till the last page. Oh how I long for another Goddard novel with these attributes. Oh how I miss the enjoyment of a first read of such quality. Oh how I mourn the change of style and the loss of depth and my subsequent lack of engagement.
Will I read the next installment? I will, borrowed from the library. I doubt I'll be able to remember anything about it within a day or so of finishing it. But, for old time's sake, I'll give it a go.