Name: Fatal Inheritance
Author: Rachel Rhys
Number of Pages: 4oo (Hardback)
Published: July 26th 2018 by Doubleday
Genre: Mystery, Historical
1948, the French Riviera: an English housewife trapped in a dull marriage escapes to the South of France to claim a mystery inheritance. But rivals to her unexplained fortune begin to emerge, and now they want her out of the way …
‘But don’t you think it strange?’ she presses him. ‘That this man I have never heard of should have left me such a gift?’
1948: Eve Forrester is trapped in a loveless marriage, in a gloomy house, in a grey London suburb.
Then, out of the blue, she receives a solicitor’s letter. A wealthy stranger has left her a mystery inheritance. And to find out more, she must to travel to the glittering French Riviera.
There Eve discovers that her legacy is an enchanting pale pink villa overlooking the Mediterranean sea. Suddenly her life could not be more glamorous. But while she rubs shoulders with film-stars and famous writers, under the heat of the golden sun, rivals to her unexplained fortune begin to emerge. Rivals who want her out of the way.
Alone in this beguiling paradise, Eve must unlock the story behind her surprise bequest – before events turn deadly . . .
Reminiscent of a Golden Age mystery, Fatal Inheritance is an intoxicating story of dysfunctional families and long-hidden secrets, set against the razzle-dazzle and decadence of the French Riviera. – from Goodreads
Fatal Inheritance tells the story of Eve, a woman living an everyday life, married to a man who seems largely unconcerned with her happiness and more with controlling their lives. Clifford (thankfully) doesn’t feature too heavily once Eve leaves the shores of Britain for her French Riviera adventure, but he made a great impact in those early stages, so stifling yet cold, that I was glad that Eve was able to leave him behind, even if only temporarily.
Eve receives word of an inheritance. It’s all very strange as she has no idea who the man behind the bequest, Guy Lester, was.
She ventures to France to find out the nature of the inheritance, and to discover more about why someone she has never heard of until now would leave her anything at all.
When it turns out that she’s actually been left a quarter share in Villa La Perle, a coastal home on the Riviera, things become even more strange, for why would a total stranger make such a grand gesture, and are the apparent small ‘accidents’ that befall Eve really accidents at all, or does someone want her out of the way?
Eve’s everyday life gives way to brushing shoulders with Hollywood stars, mingling with the rich and famous, cocktails, beach visits, a celebrity wedding. It’s a whole world removed for her usual existence, and the thought of being forced to return to that much smaller life encourages Eve to try and find out more about the reasons behind this overly-generous bequest.
The reception she receives from Guy Lester’s family is less than enthusiastic, but this does not deter Eve, and she finds the willpower to stand up for herself when they band together to insist the house is sold quickly.
The Riviera really comes alive in these pages, so it’s great escapism, imagining the villa, the ocean, the wonderful atmosphere.
There’s a whole host of characters, some extravagant, some down to earth, some who are more than they first appear, and watching Eve navigate this new world was really enjoyable.
Even herself is a likeable character. She’s almost trapped in a marriage whichseems pretty loveless, and I was willing her to enjoy every moment of her unexpected escape to the French Riviera, and make the most of the opportunities presented to her.
The mystery surrounding Guy Lester and his connection to Eve is teased throughout the novel via a first person narrative in which he lives out his final days, and it really kicked in towards the later stages of the novel. I thought it really picked up pace once the truth of the present day and years ago started to come to light. I found myself unable to put the book down because I really needed to know who had been up to what and why they’d done it, and how things would conclude for Eve.
An opportunity for escapism, glamour, and a touch of mystery Fatal Inheritance is a great summer read, or perfect for recapturing a sense of those long hot summer days.