The house was deathly quiet. That was the first sign that something was terribly wrong. Fourteen-year-old Cynthia Bigge woke that morning to find herself alone. Her family--mother, father, and brother--had vanished without a word, without a note, without a trace. Twenty-five years later, Cynthia is still looking for answers. Now she is about to learn the devastating truth.
From critically acclaimed author Linwood Barclay comes a new suspense thriller that strikes to the core of our most primal fear. What if you woke one day to find your entire life had changed? If everyone you loved had disappeared overnight without so much as a chance to ask why?
Cynthia and Terry Archer still live in Milford, Connecticut, not far from the old Bigge house on Hickory Street. With a solid marriage and a young daughter, the Archers seem on track for a successful future. But the questions raised by Cynthia's past still haunt her, and her obsession to find the answers threatens to destroy everything they've worked for. For Cynthia, there can be no closure until she finds out why her family disappeared--and how they could have left her behind.
Terry thinks the segment on the popular TV crime-stopper program Deadline is a mistake. But his wife hopes that someone watching will have a lead to her missing family. Sure enough, it's Cynthia who spots the strange car cruising the neighborhood, hears the untraceable phone calls, and discovers the ominous "gifts." And as Cynthia's nerves begin to unravel, no one's innocence is guaranteed, not even her own. By the time the first body is found, it's clear that her past is more of a mystery than she ever imagined--or may ever survive.
Someone has returned to this Connecticut town to finish what was started twenty-five years ago. And by the time Terry and Cynthia discover the killer's shocking identity, it will be too late even for goodbye.
Barclay (Bad Guys) tugs hard on the heartstrings with the tragic tale of Cynthia Bigge, whose parents and brother vanished without a trace the day after she had a tempestuous teenage argument with her father. Twenty-five years later, raising a daughter with her husband, Terrence Archer, in Milford, Conn., but still haunted by her family's disappearance, Cynthia goes on TV to talk about what happened and plead for clues. A mysterious phone call leads her to believe her father, at least, may still be alive, but as her excitement grows, so do Terrence's worries. It soon appears that someone is playing a unexpectedly vicious game with Cynthia's emotions, and that her family held secrets she never suspected. Though some plot twists require significant suspension of disbelief, skilled characterization and convincing dialogue more than compensate. (Oct.)
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-- PUBLISHERS WEEKLY.
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September 24, 2007
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Excerpt from No Time for Goodbye by Linwood Barclay
Cynthia stood out front of the two-story house on Hickory. It wasn't as though she was seeing her childhood home for the first time in nearly twenty-five years. She still lived in Milford. She'd driven by here once in a while. She showed me the house once before we got married, a quick drive-by. "There it is," she said, and kept on going. She rarely stopped. And if she did, she didn't get out. She'd never stood on the sidewalk and stared at the place.
And it had certainly been a very long time since she'd stepped through that front door.
She was rooted to the sidewalk, seemingly unable to take even one step toward the place. I wanted to go to her side, walk her to the door. It was only a thirty-foot driveway, but it stretched a quarter century into the past. I was guessing, to Cynthia, it must have been like looking through the wrong end of some binoculars. You could walk all day and never get there.
But I stayed where I was, on the other side of the street, looking at her back, at her short red hair. I had my orders.
Cynthia stood there, as though waiting for permission to approach. And then it came.
"Okay, Mrs. Archer? Start walking toward the house. Not too fast. Kind of hesitant, you know, like it's the first time you've gone inside since you were fourteen years old."
Cynthia glanced over her shoulder at a woman in jeans and sneakers, her ponytail pulled down and through the opening at the back of her ball cap. She was one of three assistant producers. "This is the first time," Cynthia said.
"Yeah yeah, don't look at me," Ponytail Girl said. "Just look at the house and start walking up the drive, thinking back to that time, twenty-five years ago, when it all happened, okay?"
Cynthia glanced across the street at me, made a face, and I smiled back weakly, a kind of mutual what-are-you-gonna-do?
And so she started up the driveway, slowly. If the camera hadn't been on, is this how she would have approached? With this mixture of deliberation and apprehension? Probably. But now it felt false, forced.
But as she mounted the steps to the door, reached out with her hand, I could just make out the trembling. An honest emotion, which meant, I guessed, that the camera would fail to catch it.
She had her hand on the knob, turned it, was about to push the door open, when Ponytail Girl shouted, "Okay! Good! Just hold it there!" Then, to her cameraman, "Okay, let's set up inside, get her coming in."
"You're fucking kidding me," I said, loud enough for the crew--a half dozen or so, plus Paula Malloy, she of the gleaming teeth and Donna Karan suits, who was doing all the on-camera stuff and voiceovers--to hear.
Paula herself came over to see me.
"Mr. Archer," she said, reaching out with both hands and touching me just below my shoulders, a Malloy trademark, "is everything okay?"
"How can you do that to her?" I said. "My wife's walking in there for the first time since her family fucking vanished, and you basically yell 'Cut'?"
"Terry," she said, insinuating herself closer to me. "May I call you Terry?"
I said nothing.
"Terry, I'm sorry, we have to get the camera in position, and we want the look on Cynthia's face, when she comes into the house after all these years, we want that to be genuine. We want this to be honest. I think that's what both of you want as well."
That was a good one. That a reporter from the TV news/entertainment show Deadline--which, when it wasn't revisiting bizarre _unsolved crimes from years past, was chasing after the latest drinking-and-driving celebrity, or hunting down a pop star who'd failed to buckle her toddler into a seat belt--would play the honesty card.
"Sure," I said tiredly, thinking of the bigger picture here, that maybe after all these years, some TV exposure might finally provide Cynthia with some answers. "Sure, whatever."
Paula showed some perfect teeth and went briskly back across the street, her high heels clicking along the pavement.
I'd been doing my best to stay out of the way since Cynthia and I'd arrived here. I'd arranged to get the day off from school. My principal and longtime friend, Rolly Carruthers, knew how important it was to Cynthia to do this show, and he'd arranged a substitute teacher to take my English and creative writing classes. Cynthia had taken the day off from Pamela's, the dress shop where she worked. We'd dropped off our eight-year-old daughter, Grace, at school along the way. Grace would have been intrigued, watching a film crew do its thing, but her introduction to TV production was not going to be a segment on her own mother's personal tragedy.