Published by Twenty7 Books on August 25th 2016
Genres: Fiction, Thrillers
Source: the Publisher
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 . . .
Bearing the scars of a recent divorce - and the splatters of two young children - Ellen Sutherland is up to her elbows in professional and personal stress. When she's invited to travel all the way out to Cheltenham to hear the content of an old woman's will, she can barely be bothered to make the journey.
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 . . .
Graham Minett's debut novel, The Hidden Legacy, is a powerful and suspenseful tale exploring a mysterious and sinister past.
I received this book for free from the Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
How sure are we that we know everything about our past, and when the truth does start to come rattling out, how do we deal with it? These are the questions facing the protagonist of G.J. Minett’s début novel ‘The Hidden Legacy’, a fabulously taught thriller that weaves through time lines.
Ellen is professional. Ellen is busy. Between her career and her children, she’s not got enough time to properly process her recent divorce, let alone deal with a mysterious solicitors letter. Her curiosity is piqued however, and soon she discovers that she’s the sole beneficiary of Eudora Nash’s will. The only issue is, Ellen has no idea who Eudora Nash was. Once she’s investigated her inheritance, an idyllic cottage on the West coast, she decides to delve deeper into Eudora’s past, little realising it will raise questions and bring revelations about her own.
In 1966, John Michael Adams commits and atrocious crime against two older schoolgirls, that sees him incarcerated for many years. During this time, he undergoes psychological assessment that delves into the reason behind the attack, as well as helping him prepare for his eventual release with a new identity. His father is relocated, also with a new name, more for his own protection than his son’s due to the overwhelming negativity shown towards them at the time of the trial. As the years progress though, it’s clear that Adams may not have had the fairest of trials. But how are the two connected?
This is his first?
It’s incredible to think that ‘The Hidden Legacy’ is G.J. Minett’s first novel: rarely have I read a thriller so complex and tightly woven that hasn’t been born of decades of experience. Plotting here is extraordinary, with just about the right amount of information revealed to keep even the most experienced thriller fan turning the pages. Although the plot is intricate it doesn’t weigh down the narrative as Minett keeps the pace rapid and well-paced. With a lot of thrillers, you can often see reveals coming long before the characters, but here realisation dawns for the reader in tandem with them, resulting in many ‘Of course!’ moments.
Minett has clearly spent a long time researching for his character’s story arcs, especially when it comes to young boy John Adams, whose case mirrors many infamously perpetrated by minors. His is a sad tale that goes some way to explaining his crime, but Minett is always careful to never condone it. The awful heartbreak of the victim’s families is tragic yet it never feels like you’re rubbernecking at their grief: yes it’s dreadful, but it also drives some pretty shocking decisions and actions, resulting in very few ‘winners’ in this tale.
Wrap Up Warm…
Characterisation is for the most part, as strong as other aspects of ‘The Hidden Legacy’, although there were occasions where I found myself annoyed at Ellen’s lack of personality. She’s often cold and emotionless, with her actions very formulaic as if she’s on autopilot most of the time. It’s left to her friend Kate to provide any spark or warmth to Ellen’s segments, and her absence is felt when Ellen flies solo at any point. John Adams is well crafted and really gets under your skin, especially when his arc switches to his childhood and the events that lead up to him making the life-changing decision to attack the girls. His narrative does jump around a lot between his early years, his time in prison, psychotherapy sessions, his life after release, and it could get confusing, but clearly dated chapter headings put pay to that.
Minett uses weather wonderfully here, especially during the ‘flashback’ chapters, with his depiction of cold snow, or driving rain mirroring the desperation of the character’s journeys. At times the weather is almost a character in it’s own right as it steadily encroaches on the novel’s players, effecting their decisions and behaviour. When Minett takes the action indoors, the atmosphere does tend to drop, with more focus on the actions of the characters, although the cottage that Ellen inherits is outlined in glorious detail.
G.J.Minett is another author from Bonnier’s Twenty7 Books an imprint that publishes new authors first as ebooks, and then in paperback within the year. ‘The Hidden Legacy’ is published in paperback on the 25th August and I can’t recommend it highly enough. If you’re a fan of tension-filled, taught thrillers that build up to a really satisfying conclusion then this is a book you’ll love.
Minett’s second novel ‘Lie In Wait’ is published in ebook form, also on 25th August, and I’ll not only be reviewing that but G.J. Minett will be here with a fab guest post as well.
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