Every now and again a book really hits all the individual spots that make perfect reading experience for me, this is one of those books!
In 1966 in a school playground in Gloucester, there is a horrific crime committed by a young boy, just eleven years old. Two points hit already; I lived near to, and in Gloucester from the age of nine and didn’t leave the area until I was nineteen so I have a geographical point of reference and I’m really interested in children involved in crime, in fact I only had an exchange about this matter with the learned Margot Kinberg on one of her posts earlier this month. Anyway back to the plot; John Michael Adams was sent to trial and the media went into a frenzy calling him ‘Every Parent’s Nightmare’, and as the book continues, we see that this interest never truly fades away, with every related story or supposed sighting of the grown man, causing a re-hash of the crime complete with his picture and his tag-line. So here is point three, how crime reporting effects both the victims and the perpetrators is also an interest of mine – why do some stories become big news whilst others get barely a mention?
In 2008 Ellen Sutherland, receives a solicitor’s letter from a firm in Cheltenham, some way from her home in West Sussex. Reeling from divorce and busy running a business as well as carrying out the multitude of tasks and pointless conversations that are involved in bringing up two children she is unimpressed that she has to visit the office in person, especially as she has never heard of her benefactor, Eudora Nash. She wants to ask her mother whether she knows who Eudora is, but Barbara is in a home suffering from dementia and so unlikely to be able to solve the mystery. Point four, and this is a biggie, I really enjoy a story where the past comes crashing into the present, and it is this that drew me to this book in the first place. When there is a proper and realistic mystery too as there is in The Hidden Legacy– well a book gets a bonus three points!
Ellen travels alone to find out what her legacy is and to her delight it was worth the drive, a beautiful three bedroomed house complete with contents, but she is no closer to finding out why it was left to her. Already puzzled and confused her suspicions are aroused when from stage left a journalist, the wonderfully portrayed Andrew O’Halloran, appears on the doorstep. At this point Ellen begins to keep her own secrets and starts her investigation into Eudora’s life for real. On returning home she recruits her friend Kate (point eight, I like my protagonists to have friends and ones who are real people not just bystanders) for a road trip the two women travel to Gloucestershire to rifle through the old lady’s papers and to talk to the locals.
And if you want to know any more you are going to have to read the book for yourself. Rest assured the plot is devious and sneaky and thoroughly believable. The writing style is engaging, I really didn’t want to put this one down for anyone or anything, there are plenty of red herrings, detours and locations as the action spreads up to Inverness, through Gloucestershire taking in West Sussex on route, and best of all age old secrets that are ultimately uncovered without descending into farce. So as you see, even if some of the subjects I like to explore in my reading aren’t the same as yours, there is an enormous amount for any reader to enjoy. In fact when I finished writing my review up I went onto Goodreads to get the cover picture for the book and was astounded to see this book currently has a high rating of 4.53, unusual for a debut that as far as I know hasn’t undergone massive hype prior to its publication (in e-book format) on 5 November 2015. This time slip thriller is definitely going to end up on my Top Ten of 2015, enthralling yet giving the reader a reason to explore the effects of a crime on everyone involved – and I will award my final point for this reason.
I received my copy of The Hidden Legacy from Midas PR on behalf of Bonier Publishing with their new imprint Twenty7 which was established last year to focus on debut authors and international writers new to the UK markets. This imprint will cover all commercial fiction genres with a focus on crime and women’s fiction. All I can say if their other finds are as good as this one, readers are in for a treat. I’d like to extend an especially big thank you to Eve Wersocki from Midas who has provided me with some excellent books this year with her finely tuned radar which seems to know just what kind of books I enjoy.