Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Elizabeth Edmondson, A Question of Inheritance

Elizabeth Edmondson, A Question of Inheritance
Thomas & Mercer © 2015
ISBN-13: 978-1503947856
Also available as an ebook

The second in the series featuring Hugo Hawkesworth, who is still working for British Intelligence despite a severe leg injury.  We first encountered him in A Man of Some Repute, in which Hawkesworth unravels a 7-year-old mystery.  A consequence of that discovery is that an unexpected claimant to the Earldom of Selchester has been discovered—a 40-ish American  history professor, Augustine (Gus) Fitzwarin, and he and his two daughters (Babs and Polly) have arrived shortly before Christmas in 1953.  The old Earl’s daughter Sonya is very disturbed by this, as she had expected to inherit the property (if not the title) and had expected to sell it for at the very least a small fortune.

As a part of that, she has plans to sell a stash of paintings, the provenance of which is doubtful in the extreme, and she has brought Oliver Seynton, a somewhat ethically flexible art expert from a somewhat ethically flexible auction house, to Selchester Castle to examine a cache of paintings she has hidden in the castle.  She hopes to make up a part of what she had expected to be her inheritance by selling them quietly.

And a severe snowstorm strikes England, disrupting rail and road traffic, so, at least for a day or so, no one is going anywhere—except to the village.  And, of course, murder ensues.

Hawkesworth’s connection with the intelligence community and his wartime experience give him son insight and some standing as the local police begin their investigation.  And the past is very much a part of the present events.

The characters are well-conceived and (at least as far as I’m concerned) seem to be “real” people, not just characters slotted into their roles in a story.  The pace is leisurely, and we spend at least as much time and attention on the people as we do on the murder, which, in this case at least, works well enough.  I was not particularly thrilled by the first book in the series, but this one is a significant advance.  I’m now looking forward to the third (A Matter of Loyalty).

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