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Bell, Josephine - 'A Question of Inheritance'
Ebook: 177 pages (Apr. 2012) Publisher: Bello

It is 1953 and the stately Garwood House is home to the Bennet family: Percy, his wife Florence, and their newborn son Philip. The marriage is not one of love but more a convenience. Percy needed an heir and at 52 years of age he felt destiny was not on his side and so he married an attractive, but poor, former actress aged 31 who wanted a home and security, and they were fortunate to have a lovely son. However, Percy was very mean with his money and he sacked the nurse who was helping his wife with the baby. Florence had a terrible row with Percy and he stormed off. The next day, in reconciliation he arranged for Florence to have a holiday in a nursing home in Eastbourne and then again left . Florence was shocked to discover that her baby had died in a cot death. She secretly buries the infant and then leaves and decides not to go to the nursing home but to escape abroad. She goes to Naples and starts to look for a job. She then reads in an English newspaper that her unfortunate husband has died in a car-crash. She immediately wants to return but what about the missing child? She, cunningly thinks of a clever ruse to solve this dilemma. She returns and sets up her life again in Garwood House and everyone accepts that she has lost her husband and she manages his property as a lady of the manor.

Twenty years later a terrible murder occurs at Garwood House and the police are called in. The event calls for a lot of questions about circumstances that occurred in the past to be answered once and for all, in order to discover the name of the dreadful murderer. Events hurtle onto the dramatic final conclusion and once again a marvellous book is unfortunately ended.

This book was a real triumph, so well plotted and one of the best books that I read in 2012. I was fascinated that it does not have to rely on cheap sensationalism to move the story along, whether that be extreme violence or sex but it is just so highly readable. I found the story immensely gripping and fast moving and the pages just shot by. The characters were very richly drawn individuals, the details of the book are fascinating. Although it is by no means an historical thriller, as the 50s and 70s are comparatively recent it gives a very vivid picture of life at this time.

The author Josephine Bell was a prolific author, writing forty-three novels and numerous uncollected short stories during a forty-five year period. She helped found the Crime Writers’ Association in 1953 and served as chair during 1959-60. A QUESTION OF INHERITANCE was originally published in 1980 and fortunately is now available once again from Bello. Recommended.

Terry Halligan, England
February 2013

More European crime fiction reviews can be found on the Reviews page.

last updated 3/02/2013 11:04