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Sight Unseen

3.72 of 5 stars 3.72  ·  rating details  ·  891 ratings  ·  79 reviews
Another classic mystery from the “master of the clever twist.”

On a summer’s day in 1981, a two-year-old girl, Tamsin Hall, was abducted during a picnic at the famous prehistoric site of Avebury in Wiltshire. Her seven-year-old sister Miranda was knocked down and killed by the abductor’s van. The girls were in the care of their nanny, Sally Wilkinson.

One of the witnesses to
Paperback, 448 pages
Published December 5th 2005 by Corgi (first published 2005)
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159th out of 208 books — 25 voters

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Am not a huge fan of crime/thrillers, but am regularly drawn back to Goddard's work. Known as "the master of the clever twist", I must say that I agree with this statement. Having been slightly disappointed with the last few novels of his I had read, I am glad I retained my faith, and read another. This was a very good read-and I had no idea-yes, "no idea", as to how the plot would pan out.

An abduction and death some 20 years previously are intersposed with the academic research of one of the pr
This mystery thriller took me by surprise... A chance buy at a second-hand stall, I was attracted by the unsolved crime/mystery element, but the novel began with a tale of a mystery figure in the history of politics called "Junius". I'm not usually enthralled by the history genre, but the novel quickly turned its attention to an unresolved crime which certainly added an exciting element to the book early on and hooked me.

It wasn't until the epilogue that I realised Junius wasn't fictional, but
Eén keer gelezen, maar dat is te lang geleden voor een goede recensie. Dus, eerst nog een keer lezen, dan horen jullie wat ik ervan vind.

Intend to release this one at the meeting on Terschelling, so will read this in the course of next week.

After a considerable time I re-read this book. This time, liked it a lot better than the first, when I compared it too much with Verboden te lezen, a book by the same author. Now that I did not read them one after the other, I am able to talk about this book
A wonderfully circular novel about events that are out of our control, and how we can possibly take our lives back afterward, or if we can, or should we.

Yes, it's a British sort-of whodunnit told from 20 years after the Big Event, which is the abduction of a toddler, and the death of her sister when she is hit by the getaway car. There were only a few witnesses, one of whom is the main character in this book: David Umber. Take note of the name; it's carefully chosen. He later married the nanny f
Marie France Asselbergh
I picked this up on a whim, 2nd hand, because of the Avebury connection, a place I've visited twice in lovely Somerset. I was expecting, hoping for a mistery that would stick close to these surroundings but that wasn't to be.

Instead I read a mistery that proved annoying at times but remained unputdownable.

Annoying because of the bland characters, unanswered yet obvious questions at certain stages, the protagonist hopping on one train and plane after another without the accounting resources. Like
Ian Fenton
I've read a few of Robert Goddard's book now, and to be honest, I find it a bit hit and miss. Some are great, others are a bit "meh". This one tends towards the "meh". It's a good story, and the twists and turns of the plot always keep you guessing as you go along. Unfortunately, the big reveal at the end was something that you will easily guess at. I also had a problem with the chapters in Kew, where all the previous good work is undone by a very unbelievable coincidence that enables the protag ...more
Hazel McHaffie
It's a summer’s day in 1981. The main character sees a two-year-old girl abducted during a picnic and her older sister knocked down and killed by the abductor’s van. Their nanny never gets over it and ends up committing suicide. 23 years later a witness of the event is trying to unravel who the abductor was. It's classic Goddard and certainly keeps the pages turning. I read it on a train and hardly noticed the other passengers.

This had a somewhat far-fetched plot that lost its momentum toward the end, so it was a disappointment. But all in all it wasn't a bad mystery. It involved a decades old kidnapping that resurfaces following the death of a person who was affected by the original crime. It also involves the mystery of authorship of the letters of Junius, a political commentator of the 18th century. That one has a kind of pat ending.
Janet Gogerty
I have read a few of Robert Goddard's books since enjoying his talk very much at a literary festival. This is a good thriller, though I didn't feel I warmed to the leading characters. This was another paperback I had picked up at a charity shop to read on the bus; I lost track in the middle through not reading it quickly enough (reader's fault, not the writer's), but on a long journey I found myself racing to the end. I had not guessed the denouement, but without giving anything away, I think we ...more
Clare Hudson
A reasonable mystery type thriller - has an historical background which is intriguing (not really sure how authentic/true that is, but it all adds to the mystery!). Fair enough read. Nothing to blow you away - doubt I'll remember what it was all about in the months to come - which says something in itself. Then again there are very few books (and I'm finding them less and less) which absolutely captivate me and I remember the story line to........ Is it too easy to get books published these days ...more
Michelle Jones
Sight Unseen is an engrossing mystery that interfered with my sleep. It's the kind of book I could have easily read in one sitting, if I had the time. I will admit that the preface and first chapter(s) left me more confused than anything, but still managed to draw me into the story. After that, the story settles into its groove. I felt involved in the story, like I was there with Umber. The one other thing that could get confusing was the repeated appearance of the Junius letters. It was hard to ...more
I am not sure exactly what to think. On the one hand, I liked how events unravelled and I did not find it difficult to follow, as some suggest. It was an easy read and the suspense kept me reading. On the other hand, I also believe the characters were somewhat superficial and I had hoped for a more intriguing ending. (view spoiler) ...more
christal ( jen'sbookworld )
In the summer of 1981, Avebury a women and three children walk in the Neolithic henge circle, a boy nine to ten years old, a seven-year-old girl and the third child who is a toddler. The two children are running around, playing when the nanny, sally Wilkinson gets distracted and the the infant, tamsin hall is grabbed by a man and taken away in a van. It was just supposed to be a simple abduction plan but later turned into a murder case when the infants sister, Miranda hall is run down by a the a ...more
Oct 27, 2009 F.R. rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to F.R. by: Gerald Clark
This was recommended to me following my enthusiastic review for ‘The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo’, and though I don’t think it’s as good (the Swedish bestseller has more depth for my money), this is definitely a gripping and sharp thriller.

The book is built on an old, and seemingly solved case, where a little girl was kidnapped and her big sister knocked down and killed by the getaway car. Two decades later the lead policeman, and one of the witnesses, re-examine this crime and realise that dark
Whymsy Likes Books
Conflicted as the Main Character

“It began at Avebury. But it did not end there”

When retired policeman George Sharp goes to Prague and attempts to convince David Umber to come back to London with him and look into the crime that brought Umber and his wife, Sally, together 23 years earlier Umber is more than a little skeptical. Umber has tried to put that event and Sally, who died five years earlier in a supposed suicide, behind him. But with so many unanswered questions haunting him and the urgin
SIGHT UNSEEN (Mystery-UK-Cont) – G
Goddard, Robert – 15th novel
Bantam Press, 2006- Hardcover
*** On a summer day in 1981, PhD student, David Umber, is waiting to meet an unidentified man who claims he can help David with his research into Junius, a political polemicist during the 1700s. While waiting, he sees a young nanny with three children and witnesses the kidnapping of one child and the hit-and-run death of a second. Years later, Umber, now a tour guide in Prague, is approached by now-retired
David Umber is sat outside a pub in Avebury, waiting for a man to arrive carrying some material that will shed light on David's research into the famoous Junius letters. While sat there he witnesses a child abduction which goes horribly wrong. Why the abduction? Shades of "The Firm" there - if you get involved in the mob, you are always involved. And what is the connection between Umber and Junius? Why did the man never show up at Avebury? Robert Goddard is a terrific author who manages to keep ...more
The plot itself was genius, as it starts in medias res and that the whole point of the account is to unveil the unsolved mystery in backtrack; although what I don't fancy about Goddard's writing in this novel is how he forces the twists (Yes, I don't consider him clever in his story twists) into the narrative and so a three-star-rating it is.
Joe Stamber
Never read any RG before, although I see he has a few other novels out. I saw this somewhere and liked the sound of it. I wasn't disappointed, the tale of a witness to a young girl's abduction and how what he saw comes back to haunt him 20 years later is an entertaining and intriguing one. The chapters often contain lots of short sections, sometimes even splitting scenes, and some could find this a little distracting, at least there were plenty of opportunities for putting the book down if somet ...more
Feb 15, 2011 Jeri rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Jeri by: Pam Hawes
Shelves: f-mystery
The plot: a 2 year girl is kidnapped; her sister is murdered; they were being cared for my their nanny. One of the witnesses to the event was a PhD student who was waiting to keep an appointment that wasn't kept. The little girls' family falls apart and the nanny winds up living with witness for a time but eventually kills herself.
Years later a retired inspector receives a letter accusing him of botching the investigation. The inspector enlists the aid of the witness to find the real culprit - a
A most peculiar mystery. A sort of Hitchcockian schlumpy Everyman accidentally gets involved in a big crime, and gets his life turned upside down because of it. But, another minor Macguffin involves the search for an 18th century book that suggests that George III had a legitimate son from an early, non-sanctioned marriage to a commoner, and the whole inheritance line since then is unjustified. It's the old 20-year-old mystery reappears and consumes a poor schmuck (or two) plot line. Interesting ...more
Meera Srikant
Goddard is a master of linking present day crimes with intriguing past. In this one, though, I didn't think the two tied up too well. But overall, the crime and its unravelling were interesting.
Gemma Mason
I can't recommend this book highly enough. I go through stages with reading and I've been away from books all summer. I happened to pick this up to read the first page and I could not put it down.

The story is magnificently mastered. It is challenging to follow at times, but that's generally what I look for in a book. Robert Goddard truly knows how to knit a mystery together with perfect measurements of mind-blowing detail, in-depth personalities and believability. This book will have you travel
Bryan Higgs
This is the seventeenth Robert Goddard novel I've read in my quest to read all his novels in chronological order.

As with all his novels, he pulled me in quickly and I was absorbed until the very end. Also, as usual, there are early mysteries and plot twists along the way. In this one, I was only about half-way through and I had the impression that things were about to be resolved, but then of course there was lots more as yet unresolved, as I soon learned.

On to the next one...
Sue Stevens
A good read with lots of twists. Originally selected this as I live near to Avebury, very pleased that I did.
I loved this book! I didn't think I would because my dad just bought it for me as i was moving to Australia and he knew how much I was going to miss Avebury so he bought it not even knowing how amazing it would be. I'd never read a book like it before so I was a bit sus about starting a new genre! But being the book worm I am I gave it a go and loved it. It's a crime novel , really gets you thinking! AND the end really isn't what you'd expect!
This is only the third novel by Robert Goddard that I've read - the first was a great read, the second I didn't manage to finish. Sight Unseen is a well written tidy thriller, set in Britain (the main locations are Oxfordshire and Jersey). [return]You find yourself caring about what happens to the main characters, and interested in what happens next. The book combines a modern day thriller, with a historical mystery story. Overall a good read.
Mitchell Gage
Annoying - I've never read a crime/thriller before where the characters don't stop and think or plan their next move.

They just stumbled from one situation to another, in confusion as to what they were up against, for the whole story!

If each one of the sub-characters wasn't so desparate to help the investigation and push it along, the story could have wrapped up in 50 pages, with the detectives having no idea and going home!
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In a writing career spanning more than twenty years, Robert Goddard's novels have been described in many different ways - mystery, thriller, crime, even historical romance. He is the master of the plot twist, a compelling and engrossing storyteller and one of the best known advocates for the traditional virtues of pace, plot and narrative drive.
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