MAF members held a lively discussion on Linwood Barclay’s suspense novel: No Time for Goodbye last Thursday. The concept alone – what would you do if you were a teenager who woke up one morning to find your entire family gone – generated a lot of comments. The group was very empathetic to Cynthia’s (the teenager) plight and felt the continuing impact of the situation on her even as an adult, was plausible and realistic. We questioned whether we would have developed the degree of paranoia she exhibits, and all agreed that she needed more (& better!) therapy. But we also felt that the other major characters (her husband, the police and the therapist) should have given more credence to her when she would say that the brown car was tracking her, and when she found her father’s hat in their house.
We admired the way the author slipped little instances like the hat into the plotting by the main antagonists. Their efforts to unhinge Cynthia – or at least make others think she was unhinged – were subtle yet malicious in a highly personal way.
Members also expressed sympathy for her young daughter Grace, who has a normal eight-year-old’s desire for more independence than her mother is comfortable letting her have. While there was some dispute about the age where you’d let you child walk to (a close-by) school by herself, we felt she was old enough to walk there with friends, particularly since Cynthia has the teacher calling her at home to let her know that Grace had arrived safely at school. (This procedure also generated comments on whether or not this was overdoing it.)
Sympathies for her husband Terry in trying to deal with all of this were quite mixed. On the one hand, he’s been under the strain of dealing with Cynthia’s trauma for many years, and on the other, he lets her down on several occasions – setting up the final scenes where Cynthia becomes convinced the only way to protect Grace is to leave home since Terry is not totally convinced there’s a danger for them being there.
There was one person however, who universally got no sympathy: Cynthia’s father Clayton. His actions (or lack of action) throughout the story showed him to be selfish, weak, and spineless. It was almost worse to believe that he really did care for Cynthia and her mother, because his actions towards them were so incomprehensibly hurtful.
The group found the story’s villains to be believable in their greed and their personal issues. We also felt that Clayton’s willingness to work with these individuals was a major demonstration of the flaws mentioned above.
We appreciated the way that Barclay skillfully pulls the plot points and personal issues together at the end. Nothing is more frustrating than to get to the end of a thriller and not have all the main issues resolved. We also went further than the story, spending time postulating where the characters were likely to go from there, and whether or not Cynthia can at long last move forward. (We were a very positive group and felt she is well on her way to putting things behind her.)
The group did very well with our (newly named) Graphic Crime Quiz on the Cast of Character page, but there could only be One Victor to Win It All: a terrific copy of a Cara Black novel – which went to Kelly. The No Time for Goodbye Cast of Characters & Graphic Crimes Quiz answers are also up on the group blog under the new Trace Evidence link in the Murder Among Friends Pages section on the blog’s main page.
We ended the meeting with the mission to boldly go – and gather mysteries to recommend at our August Planning meeting on August 20th @ 7:00 p.m. in Meeting Room B!