Robert William Goddard is a novelist.
Guy Horton and Max Wingate, both disaffected veterans of World War I, have roamed the world as partners in various confidence games. Amid Depression-era gloom they court English heiress Diana Charnwood with hopes of quick financial gain. Their callow scheme leads, however, to murder and a harsh moral education as Guy's investigation of the homicides unexpectedly uncovers those responsible for the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand. The author of Hand in Glove (Poseidon, 1993) begins his new novel with hijinks reminiscent of P.G. Wodehouse but soon establishes moral quandaries worthy of Graham Greene. Carefully plotted and elegantly phrased, this is at once a suspenseful mystery and a thoughtful examination of the lingering effects of evil.-- Albert E. Wilhelm, Tennessee Technological Univ., Cookeville
Goddard's seventh novel (after A Debt of Dishonor ) about two dapper English con men in the 1930s, gets off to a droll and snappy beginning. Aboard ship after narrowly escaping prosecution for a financial scam in America, Guy Horton and Max Wingate meet a beautiful heiress, who they think is ripe for their particular brand of seduce-and-extort scheme. But their plans go awry when Max falls in love with Diana Charnwood and enlists Guy's help in an elopement that will ultimately leave her financier father dead, and Max accused of his murder. When Guy supplants Max as the main object of Diana's affections, a jealous brawl results in a second death--Max's. With this event, Goddard's lightly cynical buddy story becomes a political mystery. While halfheartedly attempting to prove Max's innocence--and pursuing Charnwood's disappeared millions as well as his deceitful daughter--Guy is drawn into an international conspiracy involving murder, money and war. Although Goddard is adept at intricate plotting, there is one major misstep; Max and Guy make an appealing duo but Guy alone isn't a strong enough character to carry the story solo, and thus Closed Circle fails to fulfill early promises of immense readability. (Jan.)