Published: 5 April 2018
Genre: Historical Fiction
1948: the French Riviera: an English housewife trapped in a dull marriage escapes to the South of France to claim a mystery inheritance. But rivals to her unexplained fortune begin to emerge, and now they want her out of the way...
But don’t you think it strange? she presses him. That this man I have never heard of should have left me such a gift?
1948: 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 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 . . .
Reminiscent of a Golden Age mystery, Fatal Inheritance is an intoxicating story of dysfunctional families and long-hidden secrets, set against the razzle-dazzle and decadence of the French Riviera.
Fatal Inheritance is the second outing for Rachel Rhys, the alter ego of psychological thriller writer Tammy Cohen, who previously wrote A Dangerous Crossing. While Fatal Inheritance is nowhere near as compelling as her first book, Rhys still manages to produce an intriguing plot full of varied characters. The biggest problem I had with Fatal Inheritance was the fact the mystery could have been revealed so much faster if Eve had just gone home and made her mother tell her the truth but I guess that would’ve been too easy. There are other secrets at Villa La Perle but the truth behind Eve’s inheritance can only be revealed by her mother so everything Eve goes through seems rather pointless.
The other storylines are a tad predictable but Rhys captures the feel of the Riviera so well you can almost feel the heat of the sun on your skin while reading and it contrasts remarkably with the greyness of Eve’s life with her husband. When Eve first arrives at Villa La Perle, she is worn out by the disappointment of her married life but her vitality slowly re-emerges when she is increasingly drawn into Riviera society. Eve meets a host of colourful characters, including the glamorous Gloria Hayes who is about to marry a man she doesn’t really love and who may not have her best interests at heart. Gloria’s storyline is quite predictable as it mimics many a failed marriage from Hollywood’s golden era but it is no less enjoyable because of it.
There is a serious aspect to the book though as it is set a couple of years after the Second World War and it is obvious the after-effects are still rippling throughout Europe. Eve becomes friends with the Collets, Ruth and Rupert, who are on a pilgrimage to re-live the last days of their eldest son’s life and they are probably the nicest people in the entire book. The Collets become a real source of strength for Eve and they are the only characters who show a complete lack of self-interest. Eve has already lost the love of her life to the war and believing she would never be happy again, she then married the first man who asked – the dull Clifford. The romance aspects of this novel don’t really shine though and I wish we had gotten to see Eve fall in love.