I first posted this review in November of last year when Graham’s debut novel was being published in eBook by Twenty7 books, an imprint for debut novels. This book wowed me in so many ways, something which I confirmed by writing another review for A Great Crime Novel Recommendation in memory of book blogger Maxine at Petrona Remembered.
Well today The Hidden Legacy is out in paperback so now is your opportunity to get a copy and read this book for yourself – if you need persuading here is my exuberant review from November!
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.
If you want less gushing and more facts about the book, here is the synopsis
ONCE YOU KNOW, YOU CAN’T FORGET
Ellen has received a life-changing inheritance. If only she knew who had left it to her . . .
1966. A horrifying crime at a secondary school, with devastating consequences for all involved.
2008. A life-changing gift, if only the recipient can work out why . . .
Recently divorced and with two young children, Ellen Sutherland is up to her elbows in professional and personal stress. When she’s invited to travel all the way to Cheltenham to hear the content of an old woman’s will, she’s far from convinced the journey will be worthwhile.
But when she arrives, the news is astounding. Eudora Nash has left Ellen a beautiful cottage worth an amount of money that could turn her life around. There’s just one problem – Ellen has never even heard of Eudora Nash.
Her curiosity piqued, Ellen and her friend Kate travel to the West Country in search of answers. But they are not the only ones interested in the cottage, and Ellen little imagines how much she has to learn about her past . . . Amazon