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The Inheritance (Inspector Trave) Hardcover – April 13, 2010

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Editorial Reviews

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*Starred Review* The promotional material for former British criminal barrister Tolkien’s second novel (the first, The Final Witness, was published in 2002) shamelessly plays up the fact that the author is the grandson of J. R. R. Tolkien. Enough of this literary-pedigree nonsense. As Tolkien shows in both his mysteries, he does not need to have his DNA trumpeted; he is a first-rate writer in his own right. His latest thriller moves from a horrific crime perpetrated on a French family by two British soldiers during World War II and then straight into 1959, with the opening of a trial at the Old Bailey. Tolkien provides the kind of caustic portraits of judges and barristers and knowledge of the innermost cells of the Old Bailey that the late John Mortimer, also a barrister, delighted readers with in the Rumpole series. On trial is 22-year-old Stephen Cade, accused of shooting his estranged father in the head. The father was a war hero and then a well-heeled university professor. The son had motive: the father had just written him out of his will and denied him a requested sum of money. He had opportunity: he was, apparently, and by his own admission, with his father in his library. And his prints were on the gun that was found near the body. But something seems off to the officer in charge of the case. Detective Inspector William Trave of the Oxford CID uses the window of opportunity between trial and sentencing to trace the locked-room mystery back to its origins in France. Written with great surety and absolutely compelling. --Connie Fletcher


Praise for The Inheritance

“A fine novel. A thinking person’s Da Vinci Code.” –Chicago Tribune

“Simon Tolkien’s grandfather is J. R. R., but his new novel owes more to Agatha Christie—and Dan Brown.” –New York Times

“Expertly paced—the suspense builds to nearly unbearable levels—and filled with fascinating characters, The Inheritance also showcases Tolkien's spare, graceful prose—and his moral fervor. He spins a gripping story, but there's more to The Inheritance than smarts and skill. It's also a meditation on the death penalty, and Tolkien leaves no doubt that he's an ardent opponent.
A deft combination of Agatha Christie manor-house whodunit, Erle Stanley Gardner courtroom drama and Dan Brown thriller, The Inheritance is nonetheless unique to its creator. And Tolkien, with this compelling read, proves himself worthy—and then some—of his literary pedigree. —Richmond Times Dispatch

“Simon Tolkien is the grandson of J.R.R. Tolkien and, while there are no elves or dwarves in these pages, there is on display a narrative skill that the author of The Lord of the Rings would surely have recognized and admired…. It works so well, not because of cheap tricks like cliff-hanger chapter endings, but because of Tolkien's deft handling of ensemble. It is the differences in character and motive, the continual changes in viewpoint, that drive one to find out what exactly is going on and what actually happened.” –The Philadelphia Inquirer


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Product Details

  • Series: Inspector Trave (Book 1)
  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Minotaur Books; 1 edition (April 13, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 031253907X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312539078
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.2 x 9.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (58 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #518,322 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

I also enjoyed the moral meaning of the story and the characters, all superbly depicted.
Aleksandra Nita-Lazar
The story is full of twists, turns and revelations, and Mr. Tolkien keeps the reader guessing until the last chapter.
Though I don't think the book worked completely, the mystery was a bit too simple to figure out.
David Hood

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

17 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Aleksandra Nita-Lazar on March 8, 2010
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
"Inheritance" is a murder mystery written in the best English tradition of Agatha Christie and her many noble successors. Simon Tolkien deserves to be in the pleiada of detective novel authors. His novel meets all expectances of a seasoned mystery reader.

John Cade, an Oxford professor of history and a hero of World War II, is shot to death in his mansion. His younger son, Stephen, is charged with murder and put on trial - he was found in his father's study, locked from inside, a few moments after the shot and his fingerprints are on the key to the study door and on the murder weapon. He also has a motive - he was estranged from his father for two years and only came home when Cade was about to change his will and practically disinherit him, turning the mansion into a museum. During the trial, Stephen pleads innocence, but he faces death sentence - hanging is still lawful in 1959, when the action is set. Inspector Trave, the detective who arrested Stephen based on evidence, has more and more doubts while the trial unfolds. Probably the fact, that Stephen reminds Trave of his son Joe, who died in a tragic accident, adds to Trave's belief in Stephen's innocence.

There were five other people in the house at the time of the murder - the grounds were under surveillance after Cade had been pestered by his former subordinate from the army.

The people present were: Cade's older, adopted son, Silas, a sneaky photographer; Cade's assistant, Sasha Vigne, involved in cataloging the valuable collection of illuminated manuscripts; Stephen's girlfriend, beautiful actress Mary Martin; and a couple of housekeepers, Sergeant Ritter (also Cade's associate from the war) and his French wife Jeanne.

The murderer must have been one of them.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By MJZ VINE VOICE on February 17, 2010
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Simon Tolkien isn't riding on his famous last name. In large I found this to be a well written and for the most part, enjoyable book. With the following exceptions:

1) I think Tolkien was trying to create a DaVinci Code style story without being, well like the DaVinci Code. I'm really not sure what the importance of the object was (don't want to give anything away so I won't say what the object is) and what the people who were after it were going to do with it once they had it.

2)The characters. Ok here's where I think the weak spot is. I really couldn't find myself bonding with any of the people in this story. The only strong character was Silas. I wasn't sure if I should dislike, or feel sorry for him and at the end, which was tied up a bit too neatly and quickly, you only hear someone else tell what happened to him. As far as Stephen, well I really couldn't care about his fate. I think he was a bit thin for being such an important part of the story.

Don't get me wrong, I like this book. It was written well and entertaining. It was a good story line, but I think it could have been a little better if the author had put a bit more flesh on his characters and maybe a bit more detail in the plot.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By David Cady VINE VOICE on February 25, 2010
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
"The Inheritance" is a moderately successful throwback to the kind of Golden Age, drawing room murder mysteries that Agatha Christie and Dorothy Sayers were writing around the time that Simon Tolkien's grandfather was publishing "The Hobbit." I say moderately successful because, while the novel kept my attention until the (somewhat preposterous) end, I can't say I was exactly enthralled; there were times, in fact, when I was downright impatient. Part of my problem with the book is Tolkien's inclusion of what could best be described as The Dan Brown Element; in this case the search for a fabulously fabulous piece of Christian antiquity that may or may not blah blah blah. You get the picture. It's the kind of device that Hitchcock dubbed "The MacGuffin": that thing on which the plot turns, but is completely incidental and unimportant in and of itself. Here, it feels shoehorned into the book, as if Tolkien and/or his editors felt pressure to appeal to a mainstream sensibility. But imagine if halfway through "Gosford Park," it suddenly became "National Treasure."

Tolkien is, at best, a perfunctory writer, bluntly descriptive in his style. There's nothing poetic or evocative about his prose, and I found it disconcerting that, more than once, he would switch a chapter's point of view from one character to the next, sometimes mid-paragraph. Actually, the story itself is told from far too many points of view -- 6 at least, and not one particularly enthralling -- which gives you an indication of how unwieldy the mechanics of "The Inheritance" actually is. In the end, as far as I'm concerned, we're asked to overlook too many holes in the plot for the book to be a complete success.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By C. Irish TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on February 18, 2010
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
The Inheritance by Simon Tolkien was a great mystery to read. This story had all of the elements I enjoy in a good mystery. Someone shot Colonel John Cade with one bullet to the center of his forehead while he was in his study. In the eyes of the court one of the Colonel's sons is guilty because of fingerprints on the murder weapon, motive, and he was at the scene of the crime, but so many things keep cropping up in Detective Inspector William Trave's mind that imply that the son, Stephen Cade, is not the murderer that he feels the need to investigate a little more thoroughly even though he's given evidence to the court that indeed get young Stephen put behind bars to await trail and perhaps even the hangman's noose. There is also Silas Cade, the other brother, who is a slimy peeping Tom thats always one step ahead of the trouble at Moreton Manor, is he the killer? Or is it...

There is a lot of history with this mystery that takes the reader back to WWII to a small French village where the real mystery begins and we find that Colonel John Cade was a sinister man who would stop at nothing to gain certain advantages that he sought. These sinister acts create quite a few enemies that point to the motives of people who would have enjoyed killing him. Colonel Cade had two sons, several people who's lives he single-handedly destroyed,a few shady characters living with him in the manor house who are all on the roster for who may have wanted him dead.

I thought I had the murderer, but I was wrong. The story had me scratching my head quite a few times while trying to figure out who the murderer was.
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