Kington is an historic market town on the English/Welsh border, and though on the western side of Offa’s Dyke, it has been English for a thousand years. There was a Saxon settlement on the castle hill, but the modern town is of 13th century origin and rightly claims to be a centre for walking. In the opening chapter of Robert Goddard’s ’Borrowed Time’, the main character, Robin Timariot, is walking the long-distance footpath along the Dyke when he encounters a woman, with whom he has an unforgettable conversation.
"My destination that night was Gladestry, a village about three miles west of Kington, where I'd booked a room at the Royal Oak Inn. The walk to it along Hergest Ridge was a pleasant one according to my guidebook, so I’d decided to leave it until the cool of the evening. I spent the late afternoon in Kington, pottering aimlessly round the shops until the pubs opened and I could slake my thirst. At a corner table of the Swan Inn, I eavesdropped happily on the local gossip while trying to do some of the thinking my week in the hills was supposed to facilitate".
On his return home to Hampshire, Timariot discovers the woman he met had been raped and murdered and he becomes obsessed with the search for the truth behind the crime. By the time we reach chapter twelve, three years have passed and there has been another murder. Still seeking the truth Robin Timariot returns to the area:
"I made my way down into Kington and called at the Swan for a drink, as I had three years before. This time, however, I struck up a conversation with one of the locals, who didn’t seem to mind discussing the murders one little bit".
Robert Goddard is a highly successful thriller writer and Borrowed Time (1995) was his eighth novel. As I write in 2011, he has gone on to write a new novel each successive year. Born in Hampshire, Goddard read History at Cambridge and worked as an educational administrator in Devon before becoming a full-time novelist. He is the author of many best selling novels, including ’Past Caring’, ’Set in Stone’ and ’Into the Blue’ (the first Harry Barnett novel which won the first ’W.H. Smith Thumping Good Read Award’ and was dramatized for TV in 1997 starring John Thaw.
The Swan is a 19th century renovated coaching inn with nine ensuite bedrooms. The building is grade II listed and full of oak beams, wooden floors and solid oak furniture. They serve decent ale including Herefordshire brews and the food ranges from bar meals to substantial steaks and roasts.