Title: Fatal Inheritance
Author: Rachel Rhys
Published: July 30th 2018
Publisher: Penguin Books Australia
Genres: Fiction, Historical, Mystery
Rating: 5 stars
It’s 1948, and 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 . . .
A mysterious inheritance that must be claimed in the French Riviera by a complete stranger to Eve Forrester, a British woman, is the intriguing premise of Fatal Inheritance. Rachel Rhys is the pseudonym for Tammy Cohen, a popular psychological thriller author. Fatal Inheritance is the second novel by Rachel Rhys and it is one stunning read that I devoured from cover to cover.
Fatal Inheritance is set in the post World War II, in the year 1948. The events of the novel begin with Eve Forrester, a woman locked in an unhappy marriage. Eve’s dreary existence in London is disrupted by an unexpected letter from a solicitor’s office. The details of this life changing letter leads Eve to embark on a journey from London, to the opulent French Riviera, in order to claim her inheritance. When Eve arrives in the French Riviera, she is shocked to learn that she owns part of a villa, overlooking the beautiful Mediterranean sea. Eve is soon thrust into a world far removed from her own; she rubs shoulders with artists, movie stars, writers and other well known figures. Slowly Eve begins to unlock the finer details of her surprising legacy. But not everyone is happy with Eve’s presence and her bequest. In this luxurious hideaway, Eve alone must uncover the puzzle of the strange fortune that has come her way.
I read and very much enjoyed A Dangerous Crossing, the first novel penned by Rachel Rhys. I was keen to immerse myself completely in this novel. Fatal Inheritance is one beguiling read. I really appreciated the structure of this novel, it made the novel something spectacular. Rhys slowly divulges information from Eve, the main protagonist’s point of view, and interchanges it with Guy Lester’s story, which unfurls only a few months earlier. Guy is Eve’s benefactor and events in the narrative also cover the time just prior to his death, which reveals the reason why he has issued part of this personal wealth to Eve.
Rachel Rhys has cast a fine lead in Eve Forrester. There is a sense of normalcy to Eve. She is a down to earth and grounded protagonist. Eve is acutely aware of her background and her current position. I felt a great deal of empathy for Eve from the very beginning of the novel and throughout the progression of the book. It was a pleasure to observe Eve’s character growth, she moves from quite an unsteady young woman, to a grown woman who is confident in her needs and desires.
Eve’s exchanges with the secondary characters that populate the pages of Fatal Inheritance are worthy of your attention. From Eve’s stilted relationship with her husband, through to Guy Lester’s family and the new figures Eve is introduced to during her time in the French Riviera. I loved how Rhys was able to insert some famous faces in her setting, from writers, to artists and actors. For me it added an extra interest layer to this already fascinating tale.
Rhys does an absolutely excellent job of capturing the period, setting and mood of the post war era in which Fatal Inheritance is set. This is a fascinating period to me personally, Rhys resurrects the grief, loss and sense of regret, to the rise of more lax attitudes. Although many had lost so much in the war, there was a sense living in the moment, which is carefully evoked through the passages of this book. In addition, Rhys issues the reader with a picture postcard image of life in the French Riviera. Through Rhys’ prose, we are able to get a great feel for the luxury, glamour, riches, picturesque scenery and celebrity sparkle of this region.
My interest level in Fatal Inheritance was sustained by the integral mystery of why Guy Lester, a man unknown to Eve Forrester, gifted her a fortune. At first I thought Eve was an illegitimate child of Lester’s, but my guess was off the mark. I could understand the frustrations and suspicions cast on Eve on behalf of Lester’s family, but when the final reveal is made, it all falls into place. What a cracking secret it is! This element of the narrative is where Rhys truly glitters, I think she performed a significant amount of research into inheritance laws in France, at this point in time (confirmation of this is contained in the Acknowledgements section of the book). It completely captivated me!
Underneath the pivotal mystery of Fatal Inheritance is a slight hint of romance, but it never overshadows the procession of the main narrative. We explore Eve’s frustrations with her loveless and confining marriage. While in the Riviera, we watch Eve grow into her own skin and explore her desires, with surprising results! Rhys does a fine job of portraying this side of the novel.
I hope I have managed to convey how much this historical mystery novel enthralled me. I couldn’t have asked for a better read. I am declaring Fatal Inheritance one of my top reads of 2018. I’m so looking forward to seeing what Rachael Rhys composes next.
Fatal Inheritance by Rachel Rhys was published on 30th July 2018 by Penguin Books Australia. Details on how to purchase the book can be found here.
To learn more about the author of Fatal Inheritance, Rachel Rhys, visit here.
*I wish to thank Penguin Books Australia for providing me with a free copy of this book for review purposes.