No Time for Goodbye series by Linwood Barclay

“A crime thriller series that takes the ‘did-not-see-it-coming’ to a whole new level”

Genre: crime thriller

Plot – No Time for Goodbye

One morning, 14 year-old Cynthia wakes up to find her house empty, with no sign of her mother, father, or younger brother, Todd. No note and no trace. Her family have simply disappeared. Twenty-five years later, Cynthia is still haunted by unanswered questions. Was her family murdered? If so, why was she spared? And if they are alive, why did they abandon her in such a cruel way? Now married and with a daughter of her own, Cynthia fears losing this family just like her first one. In the hope that someone will remember something or even that her family might finally reach out to her, she agrees to take part in a TV documentary revisiting the case. Then a letter arrives which makes no sense, yet chills Cynthia to the core. Soon she begins to realise that stirring up the past could be the worst mistake she has ever made.

Why I love it

Linwood Barclay does a fantastic job of taking a simple ‘what if’ scenario to the extreme, yet keeps it within the realms of possibility. In the opening chapter, I was immersed into Cynthia’s situation and imagined how I would feel if I woke up one morning to find my home empty and my family gone without any evidence of their departure. As a result, I had so much sympathy for her and could understand her fierce protection over her own daughter 25 years later. Yet, I also admired Cynthia for her determination to carry on with her life. Not knowing what happened to her family for such a long time was heartbreaking to read. The possible scenarios for her family’s whereabouts are endless. Were they murdered? Did they just get fed up with her and decide to abandon her? Were they kidnapped? It is the not knowing that is the most thought-provoking and it is questions like these that kept me engaged and eager to find out the truth.

Cynthia’s husband, Terry, was a rock for Cynthia, and he was always by her side however impossible and disillusioned her faith and hope were. His first-person narration was also entertaining to read at times. Whether it was a comment about a person’s appearance or what they had said, his amusing observations helped lighten the mood and ease the tension. I could empathise with Terry too. It must be difficult to try to lead a life together when your spouse is haunted and traumatised by events that happened before you even knew each other.

Barclay’s writing style is easy to read and the intriguing plot made me want to read on all the more. There were some tense scenes when another piece of the puzzle was provided. These were contrasted nicely with some more reflective and emotion moments between Cynthia and Terry. The final few chapters had me on the edge of my seat as the truth was finally revealed about that morning, 25 years ago. Linwood Barclay takes the ‘did-not-see-it-coming’ to a whole new level, which is why he is my favourite author.

Vince Fleming, a connection to Cynthia from 25 years ago, is perhaps the character that had my opinions towards him fluctuating. Whilst he is a criminal, he is not completely immoral. He knows the difference between right and wrong, and it is that sense of what is right that made me like him. Even though he does not have to, he decides to help Cynthia and Terry on their quest to learn the truth about what happened to Cynthia’s family.

The sequel, No Safe House, takes place seven years after the events of No Time for Goodbye. I really liked how No Safe House portrayed the passage of time, yet still showed how the events of the first book have left their mark on Terry, Cynthia, and their daughter.

Overall, No Time for Goodbye (and its sequel) is a crime thriller series at its finest. With intriguing plots and intensely likeable characters, you will not be able to put these books down until you have turned the final page of the second novel.

Why you should read it

If you love crime thrillers that are full of twists and turns, then you’ll love this series.

Rating: 5/5

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