An unwelcome hint that the man who was executed long ago for the murder of Christian Napier's great-uncle brings back the past with a rush in Goddard's latest demi-period thriller (Out of the Sun, 1997, etc.). Everybody knows that Joshua Carnoweth, the Croesus of the Cornish town of Truro, was stabbed to death by ne'er-do-well Edmund Tully. Tully confessed to taking $500 to commit the crime back in 1947, showing the well-rehearsed remorse that earned him a life sentence that ended with his release in 1969. But Michael Lanyon--the son of the love Joshua left behind when he went off to make his fortune in the Klondike, the young man he'd brought up on his estate and regarded as his heir, and the man Tully insisted had hired him to kill the old man--was promptly hanged and the matter forgotten (or so it seems) until 1981, when Michael's son Nicky, Chris Napier's childhood friend, turns up at a family wedding to enlist Chris's help in clearing his father's name--only to hang himself that night. Stung by guilt and nagging suspicions of his family, and urged on by Nicky's long-lost sister Michaela, Chris toils to uncover the truth, which obligingly unrolls in Goddard's ceremonious periods (""The past is a room you only realize you've left when you hear the door close behind you""). Wading through thickets of well-groomed family skeletons, Chris finds two generations of lies and felonies devoted to covering up the truth practically nobody but him had truly forgotten before stumbling on Goddard's trademark malefactor: a survivor of the past determined to get revenge on Joshua's family, even (or especially) if it means impersonation, blackmail, arson, murder--whatever it takes to bring every family member to his or her trembling knees. The period trappings are generally kept to a seemly modicum, and the suspense mounts to a fine crescendo. A superior example of Goddard's velvet-cloaked menace.