REVIEW: Inheritance of Secrets by Sonya Bates

In brief: Juliet’s grandparents have been murdered and now she and her sister are being targeted. Could it be true their loving grandfather holds the key to a Nazi secret?

The good: Very strong debut novel.

The not-so-good: I found the end a little over the top (but then aren’t all good thrillers?)

Why I chose it: Thanks to Harper Collins for the copy.

Year: 2020

Pages: 420

Publisher: Harper Collins

Setting: Adelaide, Australia and Europe

Rating: 9 out of 10

I’m always up for a good thriller, and Inheritance of Secrets has all the elements required for a gripping read. It’s hard to believe that this is a first novel, as it’s exceptionally polished and doesn’t suffer from being overstuffed with issues and subplots. If you need a distraction from being in your house, I guarantee that Inheritance of Secrets will change all that.

While I’d classify the novel as a thriller overall, it does have some elements of historical fiction and a crime novel. Juliet is a writer and her beloved grandparents have been brutally murdered in their own home. Why? It could be a home invasion gone wrong according to the police. But when Juliet’s sister Lily appears, truly scared for her life, things change. Some shady characters want to know more about their grandfather’s signet ring and the sisters are forced to confront that their grandfather may have had secret links to Nazis. It’s something they refuse to believe though, and through some super sleuthing of their own they manage to get tangled up in a group that will stop at nothing to get what they think the sisters have. The only problem is that Juliet and Lily have no idea what it is! It’s an emotional time for Juliet, as she was close to her grandparents and she’s having problems with her partner (not to mention her deadline) but it ends up bringing her closer to a number of people. The ending is a little over the top, but you would never expect a thriller to end quietly in an ordered fashion!

Sonya Bates has really nailed it with this book. It’s never clumsy, overwritten or too full of issues, themes and subplots (which I find some debut novels to be). She has a very elegant form of writing – and by that, I mean that every word fits, nothing is out of place or out of character. Her descriptions of Adelaide and Victor Harbor made me long to go back there, yet I got a real sense of being there. Juliet’s travels really bring a feeling of Adelaide to the novel. The addition of her grandfather’s travels during World War II and after add another, more sensitive layer to this novel. His story was just as fascinating as Juliet’s and was a solid interpretation of the immigrant experience to Australia from Europe. I found myself reflecting on my own grandparents’ experience (although I hope their travel by ship wasn’t as eventful). Juliet’s story provided the tense, edge of your seat chapters, but Karl’s story was the perfect contrast of danger lurking quietly in the background.

A real page turner that captures a sensitive, well written story combined with action and drama; Inheritance of Secrets needs to be on your wishlist.

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