Title: The Inheritance
Author: Simon Tolkien
Release Date: April 13, 2010
Publisher: Minotaur Books
Genre: Crime Fiction
Source: Personal Copy
Rating: 4 out of 5
When Stephen Cade is arrested for the murder of his father in 1959, everyone is sure he committed the crime. After all, he and his father were estranged, and he was found in the room with his father’s corpse. Even worse, his fingerprints were on the murder weapon. But Detective Inspector William Trave, the policeman in charge of the case, isn’t so sure about Stephen’s guilt. He becomes determined to find the real murderer, exposing the secrets and lies in the Cade household in the process.
The Inheritance is a mix of a courtroom drama and a crime fiction novel, set during 1959. From the beginning, things don’t look good for Stephen. Though the reader immediately knows he’s innocent, it’s difficult to explain away the many pieces of evidence that led to his arrest. Tolkien writes the courtroom scenes with finesse; readers are hanging onto every word of the witnesses, hoping to find some reprieve for Stephen. It’s easy to become emotionally involved in this story, especially when the life of an innocent man is at stake,
The cast of characters in The Inheritance is large, but Tolkien does an excellent job differentiating them. They each have their own personalities, their own secrets, and they leap off the page. It gives the reader many different choices in terms of who the murderer might be. Tolkien’s writing is descriptive and evokes vivid pictures in the reader’s mind. The plot takes its twists and turns, and though the reader can guess the identity of the murderer by the time it’s revealed, it’s not something that’s easy to predict early in the novel.
There is a secondary storyline in The Inheritance of atrocities committed in the French countryside during World War II. Though these crimes were later blamed on the Nazis, it’s clear from the beginning that General Cade was behind them. The question is, do these actions have any bearing on his murder? Tolkien weaves these horrific events into the narrative well.
In the end, The Inheritance is a gripping crime fiction novel that is engaging and well-written. The characters are intriguing, and the storyline will keep the reader hooked from beginning to end. This is a promising start to a new series featuring Detective Inspector William Trave, and I look forward to seeing where his work takes him next.