Harry Barnett is a middle-aged failure. Leading a shabby existence in the shadow of a past disgrace, he is reduced to caretaking a friend’s villa on the island of Rhodes and working in a bar to earn his keep. Then a guest at the villa – a young woman he had instantly and innocently warmed to – disappears on a mountain peak.
Under suspicion of her murder, Harry stumbles on a set of photographs taken in the weeks before her disappearance. Obsessed by the mystery that has changed his life and determined to clear his name, he begins to trace back the movements and encounters that led to the moment when she vanished into the blue. The trail leads him back to England, to a world he thought he had left for ever – and a past he has tried desperately to forget.
The mysterious disappearance of a young Englishwoman on a hillside on the island of Rhodes points the blame to her recent companion, a chain-smoking man in his fifties who enjoys drinking, but Harry Barnett is the innocent party. He has a soft spot for Heather, who has been recovering from a breakdown, but he has no idea how or why she has disappeared, and he needs to find out what has happened. Despite the reaction of the British gutter press, the Greek police lose interest in him so he begins to follow clues in a set of photographs which Heather had taken in the last month.
This book was written in 1990 so the photographs are on a film which has been developed and mobile phones don’t feature in the plot. Returning to England, Harry finds new purpose in his life as he travels around southern England meeting people who knew Heather and exploring the sites of her photographs. He feels ill at ease because someone is following him and he is left messages written in Greek. He has some help from his old friend Alan Dysart, an English MP, but there is no cooperation from Heather’s family since the Mallenders had previously accused him of taking bribes while he worked for their company.
The complex plot gradually reveals several murky secrets and possibly murders but nothing seems to help Harry find out if Heather is still alive. It is a thrilling, intriguing tale of an elite Oxford University society, of an IRA bombing and of a suspicious psychiatrist who wants to put Harry under hypnosis.
I had forgotten how much I enjoyed the writing of Robert Goddard and I enjoyed the locations of Rhodes and Weymouth, both of which are familiar to me. This may not be the latest novel, but the mystery doesn’t date.
Out of the Blue is available on Amazon UK