Robert Goddard, where did it all go wrong? We met in South Africa and you kept me company on the long flight home. Then we’d meet up once a year for whirlwind of historically informed adventure. It was great until without warning my sure bet was Found Wanting. But anyone can have a bad day, or a bad book, so I was back for more with Long Time Coming with nary a reservation. I’m sorry to report that this book is the equivalent of having your date to the opera show up wearing a clown suit. It’s stupid and you can’t quite figure out how it got to be that way.
The familiar elements are present: the man at loose ends with pondering his cloudy future, a simple request that is anything but and a secret hidden in historical event. What’s missing is the narrative drive and basic logic.
The first lapse in logic occurs early. When someone is released from prison after several decades and asked to bunk at your place one of the questions one asks is what the prospective house guest did in order to warrant a room at the Grey Bar Hotel. Except in this book. Twenty-five pages in this book started to read like an episode of Get Smart. Would you believe stolen Picassos? Would you believe artistic terrorists? Would you believe clues hidden in paintings? Literally IN a painting.
Long Time Coming reads like two plots spliced together. In the dark. It’s not just stupid it’s boorishly stupid. Unlike Found Wanting Goddard doesn’t blame it all on a character that appears out of nowhere in the last 50 pages. Instead he just grinds on, and on, telling a story that might be bearable if the characters evoked some emotion in the reader. Compassion would be nice but I’d have settled for loathing after 200 pages. They’re worse than cardboard cutouts. They’re uninteresting.
Skip this one, Goddard fans, and the rest of you stay away, too. It won’t even cure insomnia.