Goddard, Robert - 'Long Time Coming'
In 1976 Geologist Stephen Swan resigns from an American oil well and returns to his mother's bed & breakfast house in Paignton, Devon. He is surprised to learn she has given refuge to his deceased father's brother Eldritch, whom he had been led to believe was dead. He had in fact been incarcerated in an Irish prison for the last 36 years. Eldritch refuses to reveal the reason for imprisonment, saying it is a condition of his release, but confirms that he did not murder anyone.
Eldritch is commissioned by a mystery benefactor to prove that a collection of Picassos due to be shown in a gallery in London, were in fact once owned by Eldritch's former boss. Just after the beginning of the Second World War Eldritch was employed by a Belgium businessman - Meridor - who entrusted his Picasso collection to him for safekeeping with a London art dealer. Meridor sailed for America where he had previously sent his family, but he perished when his ship was sunk. The art dealer Geoffrey Cardale then offered Eldritch temporary employment and learning of Meridor's death hatched a scheme to use an expert forger to copy the Picassos, allowing him to sell the originals. The main problem however was that the proposed forger - Desmond Quilligan - was interned in the curragh camp in Ireland. Cardale persuaded Eldritch to visit Ireland to get Quilligan to do the work, and this marks the beginning of Eldritch's problems which culminated in imprisonment.
Stephen agrees to help Eldritch and they travel to London and meet with Simon Cardale now running his deceased uncle's gallery. Meridor's granddaughter Rachel is also keen to learn what happened to her grandfather's Picasso collection.
LONG TIME COMING switches between 1976 (the height of the Irish Troubles) and 1940 and travels between Devon, London, Dublin and Antwerp but at its core is the mystery of Eldritch's imprisonment.
The author is a master of keeping you guessing and driving the story forward, never allowing you to know who is genuine and who is not! As usual this an excellent read which keeps your interest throughout.
Geoff Jones, England