Long Time Coming
Bantam, Mar 2010, $15.00
In 1976, sixty-eight year old Eldritch Swan arrives at his widow sister-in-law’s home in Paignton after over three decades in an Irish prison. His nephew Stephen Swan is also heading to his mom’s home having ended an engagement. Stephen is shocked to learn his paternal uncle is alive as he thought Eldritch died in the Nazi Blitz in 1940. He asks his Uncle Eldritch why he was incarnated all these years without anyone aware he still lived; the older man says he cannot tell anyone or he will die in that Irish prison.
In 1940 Eldritch worked as secretary to Antwerp diamond merchant, Isaac Meridor. He insists he is innocent of the traitorous charges that locked him away, but admits he helped Miles Linley steal his employer’s Picasso collection and has a chance to make some money from a lawyer whose client insists tycoon Jay Brownlow owns a stolen Picasso collection that Meridor’s granddaughter Rachel claims is rightfully hers.
This is a terrific thriller that effortlessly switches back and forth between 1940 and 1976 as what happened to obviously still roguish Uncle Eldritch is slowly answered with more questions arising. The two subplots are well written as Stephen and Rachel try to solve the modern day question of art ownership by deciphering the 1940 mystery with ties to Ireland’s position on which side to support during WWII.