Title: Inheritance of Secrets
Author: Sonya Bates
Published: April 20th 2020
Publisher: Harper Collins Books Australia
Genres: Fiction, Contemporary/Historical
Rating: 4.5 stars
A brutal murder. A wartime promise. A quest for the truth.
Kate Furnivall meets Caroline Overington in a gripping, page-turning mystery.
No matter how far you run, the past will always find you.
Juliet’s elderly grandparents are killed in their Adelaide home. Who would commit such a heinous crime – and why? The only clue is her grandfather Karl’s missing signet ring.
When Juliet’s estranged sister, Lily, returns in fear for her life, Juliet suspects something far more sinister than a simple break-in gone wrong. Before Juliet can get any answers, Lily vanishes once more.
Juliet only knew Karl Weiss as a loving grandfather, a German soldier who emigrated to Australia to build a new life. What was he hiding that could have led to his murder? While attempting to find out, Juliet uncovers some disturbing secrets from WWII that will put both her and her sister’s lives in danger …
Gripping. Tense. Mysterious. Inheritance of Secrets links the crimes of the present to the secrets of the past and asks how far would you go to keep a promise?
Children’s book author Sonya Bates was shortlisted for the unpublished manuscript in the inaugural Banjo Prize in 2018. This manuscript has now been published as Inheritance of Secrets. Sonya Bates’ debut is a story of war, sacrifice, family relations, secrets and allegiance. It is one hooking page turner that I highly recommend.
Inheritance of Secrets looks at what happens when the past finally catches up with you. In the present day, Juliet is contending the loss of her two beloved grandparents. Both were murdered in their home in a shocking crime. The only lead Juliet can cling on to is her grandfather’s treasured signet ring, which is now missing. Things are further complicated for this family fold when Juliet’s sister Lily makes her presence known. The two sisters have been estranged, but the tragic loss of their grandparents brings these two divided sisters back together again. With thoughts of a robbery gone terribly wrong at the front of Juliet’s theories about her grandparents, something much more shocking comes to light. As Juliet probes into her grandfather’s past, revelations about her grandfather’s involvement in the war and his early resettlement days in Australia prove to be the key to this murder mystery. But something just as pressing occurs when Juliet’s sister Lily goes missing. Why is this family being targeted?
Sonya Bates is a new face to me and it is great to discover an unfamiliar author who writes books set in my favorite genre and narrative structure. Inheritance of Secrets is a contemporary fiction, crossed with a historical fiction narrative. This double storyline novel links to past to present, via an enthralling family mystery. There are strong elements of intrigue, suspense and even action in this novel. Inheritance of Secrets has a lot going on and it succeeded in distracting me from my current concerns about everyday life.
What an opening! The premise of Inheritance of Secrets was absolutely flooring, my heart really sank for Juliet. I could not imagine having to walk into a morgue with a detective to identify the bodies of not just one grandparent, but two at the same time. It was a harrowing opening, but it also worked as bait to hook me right in to this novel. I was completely invested in Sonya Bates’ debut adult fiction novel. I liked the drip feed style storyline and how secrets were gradually unveiled, which really worked to sustain my interest in this set piece.
Karl, Juliet’s grandfather, is a strong voice who commands your full attention in the sequences he frequents within the novel. I am not surprised that Karl popped up in the author’s mind and refused to go away until she had pieced together his story. Karl’s story is quite remarkable. I appreciated learning about Karl’s family background, his life in the war, his post war experience and his passage to Australia to resettle. Karl’s sea voyage was quite tumultuous, with plenty of action, adventure and revelations. A secret deal is made which truly tests Karl’s loyalty, as well as his devotion. It also serves up plenty of moral questions too. I really enjoyed immersing myself in this aspect of the storyline, from a character and setting point of view.
I really warmed to Juliet and my relationship to this character developed rather swiftly. I enjoyed the dynamics that accompanied Juliet’s character and her interactions with her sister, boyfriend Jason and friend Ellis. There is an emotional and nostalgic glimpse into Juliet’s past and her family relationships. Bates does a fine job of exploring the family dynamics and drama that unfolds from this saga.
The most significant aspect of the novel that truly made its mark on me personally was Karl’s story. In Karl, the choices he makes as a soldier and in the post war years has an unexpected impact years down the line on his descendants. Bates explores this well, by tying in themes of Nazi hunters and war secrets. The author also plays homage to the damaged soldiers who returned home from war, who were desperate for an escape and a new beginning, so they set off for greener pastures abroad. However, once they arrived, they were not welcomed with open arms, as we see through Karl’s first hand experiences.
With distinct character voices, a range of engrossing plotlines and a looping bridge between the past and present, Inheritance of Secrets is an engaging tale, that did leave me with a few lasting questions. I enjoyed this family mystery come saga and Juliet’s dogged search for the truth to help put the secrets of the past to rest.
Inheritance of Secrets by Sonya Bates was published on 20th April 2020 by Harper Collins Books Australia. Details on how to purchase the book can be found here.
To learn more about the author of Inheritance of Secrets, Sonya Bates, visit here.
*Thanks extended to Harper Collins Books Australia for providing a free copy of this book for review purposes.
Inheritance of Secrets is book #48 of the 2020 Australian Women Writers Challenge
I am offering 1 lucky reader an opportunity to win a copy of Inheritance of Secrets by Sonya Bates. Simply leave a comment below on this post telling me about something you have inherited to be entered into this great competition! Good luck!
*Competition open to Australian postal addresses only. Closes Monday 4th May 2020, 11pm (WST).