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16 of 19 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Still Goddard, but not as strong as his better books....
I must admit to being in two minds about this book : if I was a first-time Goddard reader, I suspect I would have described this as being a truly absorbing and refreshing read. But as someone who has read all of his prior novels I also have the sense that he didn't match the standard of his previous works with this one. Do we therefore perhaps have too high expectations...
Published on 9 Dec 2007 by johnverp

versus
62 of 63 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars 4 stars for the first half, 2 stars for the second
Robert Goddard has written some truly outstanding novels. The best are Past Caring, In Pale Battalions, and Painting the Darkness. I reread those books every couple of years, I've sent numerous copies to friends via Amazon, and I keep 3-4 copies around myself just in case I lose one or loan a copy and at that moment have an urge to read the book again. Goddard's books...
Published on 29 Sep 2007 by David W. Straight


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62 of 63 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars 4 stars for the first half, 2 stars for the second, 29 Sep 2007
By 
David W. Straight (knoxville, tennessee United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Name To A Face (Hardcover)
Robert Goddard has written some truly outstanding novels. The best are Past Caring, In Pale Battalions, and Painting the Darkness. I reread those books every couple of years, I've sent numerous copies to friends via Amazon, and I keep 3-4 copies around myself just in case I lose one or loan a copy and at that moment have an urge to read the book again. Goddard's books usually center on the unearthing (sometimes literally) of secrets and events from 20 to 40 years back. He's a master of this genre, with the genre's prototypical example being Du Maurier's Rebecca. The only other master who comes to mind is Ross MacDonald--if you havent't read any of his Lew Archer mysteries and enjoy Goddard's novels, give them a try.

Name to a Face features secrets from 10, 270, 300, and 650 years back. The book starts off in a promising fashion, with the protagonist Tim Harding finding himself in the middle of a swirl of strange events which almost everyone else seems to know more about than he does: this kind of situation is usually a Goddard signature--reminiscent of Kafka's The Trial, but not so ubiquitous. But as Harding learns more, the pace seems to slow rather than to accelerate, unlike in Goddard's best works. The last part of the book almost seems to create more loose ends than to tie them up--it feels as if Goddard has put together parts from different books. I felt myself pausing and saying "What on earth is going on here?". One of the major themes of the early part of the book, if you want a bad and mixed metaphor, turns out to be kind of a red herring in the stargazy pie (popular in Penzance).

So if you enjoy Goddard's novels, this is not bad--but it also is not one of his best works--read the book. If you haven't read any of Goddard's novels, don't start with this, you might not read any of the others. Start with Past Caring, and continue on to Pale Battalions and Painting the Darkness--all three are truly deserving of a 5-star rating.
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34 of 36 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars An inconsistant novel from Robert Goddard., 2 Oct 2007
This review is from: Name To A Face (Hardcover)
I have to agree with the first reviewer of this book.
It is time to face the fact that perhaps my favourite author's best novels are now some way in the past.
This seems to be a different writer to the author who wrote such splendid literary novels such as 'Painting the Darkness' and 'Take no Farewell'.
Goddard's 19th novel in 21 years is, for me an improvement on last years tired and boring Harry Barnett escapade 'Never Go Back', but it is some way off his finest work.
This novel begins very well, (as did 'Never Go Back')but dips in the middle and does not fully recover, lacking in tension and believability.
Goddard has delivered in the past few years, 'Sight Unseen'in 2005 was in my opinion amoung his best books.
Writing in the third person,his narative ridgidly follows the central character Tim Harding on his ill fated journey to Cornwall to find the truth behind a historical conundrum concerning a ring. The story sadly peters out and the historic significance matters less and less.Because we never see the story from any other point of view, it becomes predictable and not even the odd plot twist or sudden revelation that was once Goddard's hallmark and great strength can hold the readers attention for long.
In his earlier novels Mr Goddard would have made wonderful use of a historical city such as Lincoln. ( A city Goddard visited in 2005 and 06 on book tours).He would have created atmosphere and tension, but in 'Name to a Face' he brushes across the description of the walk up Steep Hill towards the Cathedral in a mere sentence and sets the following scene in a dingy flat when there is one of the greatest Cathedrals in Europe undescribed next door. I know that this is a gripe but the point is this, Robert Goddard's technique has changed from those great early novels.
Please Mr Goddard return to the style of your early novels and thrill us again with a historical novel that twists and turns and keeps us guessing, baffled and hooked to the very last page.
I would happily wait 2 to 3 years for such a book as Robert Goddard's early novels are always as good on the 2nd or even 3rd re read.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing, 30 Jun 2008
By 
John Deighan (Scotland) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Name To A Face (Hardcover)
This is poor from Goddard, I really wanted to stop reading. The plot just seemed to get increasingly implausible; and how the main character gets motivated to chase round after a series of half-baked clues stretches credulity too far.
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16 of 19 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Still Goddard, but not as strong as his better books...., 9 Dec 2007
This review is from: Name To A Face (Hardcover)
I must admit to being in two minds about this book : if I was a first-time Goddard reader, I suspect I would have described this as being a truly absorbing and refreshing read. But as someone who has read all of his prior novels I also have the sense that he didn't match the standard of his previous works with this one. Do we therefore perhaps have too high expectations of such a wonderful author?

In the end though, I did conclude that this was a good read because the Goddard trademarks were there : the rich writing, the historical backdrops and the multiplicity of twists and turns. (At certain points though, I did feel that the lies and deceptions were just too over the top). If they're your test, you'll probably be happy with this book.

The plot did drag me in early and, as usual, I was able to get through it easily in a couple of long sittings. From that point of view, I must regard it as quite an entertaining read. That said, however, I would also say that it falls shy of his better works so something was definitely missing.

This fence I'm sitting on is not all that comfortable!
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4.0 out of 5 stars Goddard keeps going ..., 5 Sep 2008
By 
ctdak (Alaska USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Name To A Face (Hardcover)
I would probably give this one 5 stars if I were making comparison to most other mystery/fiction authors' stories. However, having read all of Goddard's novels I tend to compare each new one to his own earlier ones. This one is very good, but not his best yet. His last two were not all that great, but this one encourages me to think Goddard's writing career is not yet over.

The story details and character relationships get complicated pretty fast. As usual, the plot is meticulously developed with plenty of twists and turns along the way. While the ending comes a little too abruptly after all that has lead up to it, there is no way to guess ahead of time how it will end or how events will bring resolution to lives turned upside down. You just have to keep reading. Historical events are always part and parcel of Goddard's stories, sometimes in the extreme, but not overdone in this one.

If you're a Goddard fan, this is pretty standard fair, and you won't want to miss it. If you're new to Goddard, I would recommend reading a few of his others first. The best of the best are "Caught in the Light", "Set in Stone", "Take no Farewell", "Beyond Recall", and "Dying to Tell". I'm not one of those who feels that Goddard's earliest novels are his best. For my liking, his best ones came in the 1990s with some good ones in the current decade as well.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Where's the magic?, 19 Oct 2007
By 
Merlot Monde (the Netherlands) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Name To A Face (Hardcover)
I picked up a copy of Closed Circle a dozen years ago while on holiday in the UK. I became an instant addict to Mr Goddards work. To me (and to a lot of other readers), these books were more than mere thrillers. In each of them he managed to bring history alive, mixing it cleverly with our present times. After Sea Change the quality of his work became inconsistent and Name to a Face is an example of a story that is not very good and not very bad. The historical connections are still there but - contrary to Mr Goddards pre-Sea Change work - not very detailled at all. Instead we have to cope with a protagonist who acts like a nervous dog that is on the scent of something it doesn't understand but does not keep it from running all across Europe.

I agree with the previous reviewers: If you're new to Goddard, get Past Caring, Into the Blue or anything pre-Sea Change for that matter.

Oh and BTW: Contrary to what Mr Goddard tells us and although our government resides there, the Dutch capital is not the Hague. It's Amsterdam.
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2.0 out of 5 stars Anonymous, 6 Oct 2008
This review is from: Name To A Face (Mass Market Paperback)
It's hard to understand how a novelist can deteriorate as much from his early novels as this. This is an adequate pot-boiler of the kind you might pick up at random from the top 10 in any bookshop. But when compared with Goddard's best books, such as Take No Farewell and Into the Blue, it's almost as though it is written by a different author.
Where is all the period detail, character and emotional tension Goddard used to put into his books? Where is even one decent twist? Hayley Winter, to take just one example, is a cardboard character, who alternately acts out some old-man's fantasy and behaves,absurdly, as the greenest of journalists. The twist was ridiculously obvious virtually from the start. Then there is the sloppy, poor writing, with large tracts of dialogue with insufficient commentary. The couple of mistakes I happened to pick up, such as the East Kent Mercury mistakenly being called the Kentish Mercury, are, I suspect, symptomatic.
None of us expects Robert Goddard to be brilliant every time but it's so sad that all the signs here are that he can't now be bothered at all, whether from having too much money, boredom with writing or some problem in his life.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Typical Goddard, 14 Feb 2010
By 
This review is from: Name To A Face (Mass Market Paperback)
Much criticism has been levelled at Robert Goddard's recent efforts. I daresay some of this criticism is deserved. However, most of it is, I believe, ill-founded.
'Name to a Face' is perhaps not Goddard's best, but it is still a consummately crafted thriller that delivers in spades everthing we've come to expect from this talented author. As usual, we're given a middle-aged, male protagonist, this time Tim Harding, a landscape gardener plying his trade in affluent Monaco, who is compelled by a friend to travel to Cornwall to bid on an antique ring. And as you'd expect, Harding is soon drawn into a world strewn with lies and secrets, upon which he is determined to shed light. As time advances, the darker and more lethal this world becomes.
Ultimately, 'Name to a Face' should delight Goddard fans and be more than adequate to attract the uninitiated into further reading. The prose is, as ever, both sumptious and litrary whilst maintaining a heady pace that never sags.
Despite less than favourable reviews, this is a tense and absorbing read that places Goddard at the head of the pack.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Goddard is getting tired, 14 Oct 2008
By 
Lance Mitchell (Hampshire, UK, Northern Hemisphere, Planet Earth) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Name To A Face (Mass Market Paperback)
I have enjoyed many of Robert Goddard's books, with their many unexpected twists and turns, but his writing has now got to the stage where I know what to expect. I persevered with this story, but had it been a TV film, I would have been out of my seat and off to bed half way through.

However, compared to a lot of the books in this genre, Goddard is still up there with the best. Perhaps it is unfair of me to make the comparison with his previous works, as those were all so good.

A landscape gardener on the Côte d'Azur is asked by one of his clients to go to Cornwall and bid for a family heirloom which is up for auction following the death of his (the client's) uncle. From that point, mystery, intrigue and deception unravel in typical Goddard style. The historical backdrop adds a lot of colour to the story, which never approaches believable. Uncharacteristically, many of the twists and turns are either too predictable or just too far-fetched.

An enjoyable enough book, if you can't find anything better to read on your holiday.
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4.0 out of 5 stars An old-fashioned whodunnit, 21 Oct 2008
By 
Michael Watson "skirrow22" (Halifax, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Name To A Face (Hardcover)
This is the first Robert Goddard book I have read, though I have several others awaiting their turn. Whether this is, therefore, worse than the earlier ones I have no idea.

However, I did enjoy it. I'd say it was a typically old-fashioned English whodunnit. Plenty of clues, though not for Tim Harding who seems to gather his wits as the story unfolds. The reader is left in the dark as to exactly why all this is happening and it's not until nearing the end that the pieces fall into place.

Whether an old ossary box purported to contain the remains of King Edward II is reason enough to cause a lengthening list of dead bodies is not really the point. If you go along with the story, you'll move around Europe, flit back to Penzance and London and decide early on that the love interest will blossom in accordance with good old British traditions.

Now I've read this book, I think I know what to expect from the earlier ones, so I'll be picking up the next fairly soon.
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Name To A Face
Name To A Face by Robert Goddard (Mass Market Paperback - 28 July 2008)
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