You might think this story is about a ring.

That’s only the lure.

It’s a story about deception, myth, manipulation and family feuds, and it positively seethes with blackmail and corruption.

What’s the story?

Tim Harding agrees to do a favour for a friend by bidding on his behalf at an auction for an ancient ring. It seems a simple enough task, but Harding’s friend has withheld vital information about the ring’s history, which associates it with a centuries-old tragedy, an equally ancient murder and the more recent drowning of a journalist (which may or may not have been an accident).

As Harding delves deeper into the history and mysteries surrounding the ring he finds conspiracy theories aplenty, but struggles to understand how everything is connected.

Then the ring is stolen, a woman is threatened and someone is murdered.

Who, exactly, can Harding trust to help him uncover the truth?

What’s it like?

Continuously surprising. Consistently dramatic. Densely plotted.

Full to the brim with historical and purely fictional characters, it’s impressive that Goddard manages to define them all clearly so that I never had to stop and wonder who was who or where I’d seen them last.

This is an entertaining read because it constantly surprises: Harding keeps having to re-evaluate the people he’s met and the stories they’ve told him in light of new events. As the story develops, his focus shifts from the ring to solving a possible murder to handling the fall-out from an actual murder, and along the way there’s an astonishing amount of blackmail aimed his way.

The solutions are unveiled gradually so there’s always something to keep readers curious, though the ultimate reasoning behind the journalist’s fate is, frankly, daft.

There’s a romantic angle, too, of course, (all sleuths must be given the chance to catch a girl,) but as with everything else in this tale it’s rather complicated – until it’s suddenly very simple.

Final thoughts

If you like a dramatic, twisty yarn and don’t mind a touch of the fantastical then you’ll likely enjoy this.

I read this in only two days. Admittedly, I was on holiday so I had time to do so, but the point remains that it was entertaining and I would definitely read another thriller by Robert Goddard.

‘Name to a Face’,
Robert Goddard,
2008, Corgi, paperback