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3.9 out of 5 stars13
3.9 out of 5 stars
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Simon Tolkien has a written a very good story spanning two countries and 15 years, in his second novel, "The Inheritance". A war criminal in deed, if not charged, Professor John Cade, is found shot to death in his Oxford home. The house abounds with suspects; his two sons, an old war crony and his wife, a researcher for Cade, and several others. The Oxford police, with a fair amount of surety, charge and convict Cade's younger son, who stands to hang within days of his conviction. This is in 1959, when Britain still had the death penalty in murder cases.

But his barrister and a member of the Oxford Police Department who helped convict Stephen Cade doubt his guilt. Disturbing echos of the war crime John Cade had committed in Normandy after D-Day with two subordinates, have returned to haunt the case. Throw in a missing Cross of St Peter, which everyone seems to be searching for, and the fact that almost no one, other than the Cade family, are who they say they are, and the reader has a fine mystery to read. It's a well-written book with a satisfying ending.
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"The Inheritance," a new British mystery/courtroom drama/thriller by Simon Tolkien, whom the Los Angeles Times has described as "half Christie and half Grisham," gives us the tale of the murder of John Cade, Colonel Cade during his war hero World War II years; now an honored Professor Cade at England's prestigious Oxford University. The don is found dead in his locked study; circumstantial evidence weighs heavy against his son Stephen, who soon ("The Inheritance" is set in the 1950's, when the United Kingdom still hanged those convicted of murder), finds himself on trial for his life in the Old Bailey, London's famous old courthouse. However, there were five other people in the Cade manor that night, and Detective Inspector William Trave of the Oxford and Midland CID, who had initially gathered the evidence that put Stephen on trial, is now, rather late in the day, having misgivings as to his part in building this case. He is revisiting the alibis and backgrounds of the others in the house; he will find and unravel a thread that goes back to the Professor's WWII service in France.

This is a pretty good thriller, it kept me turning the pages, and I liked it. England of the 1950's is well-rendered, as is the Oxford area, its flora and fauna, and the speech of its people. London is also well-rendered. The dialog, narrative and descriptive writing all satisfied me. Characters struck me as unusually sturdy and well-drawn for an entertainment of this type. The courtroom scenes may not have the snap of master Grisham, but they kept my attention fixed on the plight of poor Stephen. The plot is, of course, an artificial construct - aren't they all, come to thrillers--and rarely has there been an English book with so many French, and/or Catholics running about, the better to throw dust in the reader's eye. Still, I was able to pick out the villain by pure process of elimination, as many other mystery fans may well be able to do. The villain is, in fact, a fairly classic Agatha Christie villain, in terms of looks, intelligence, social situation, and behavior, even unto taking the last two chapters to "'splain" it all at length; something that, by the by, hasn't been considered a good way to end a mystery at least since Christie's day.

"The Inheritance" follows on the highly-lauded heels of Final Witness (2002), the writer's first fictional effort. Simon Tolkien was a successful barrister in London who specialized in criminal justice, before moving himself, his wife, and two children to California. He is the grandson of the world-famous J.R.R. Tolkien, an Oxford don for nearly 40 years, and the author of the fantasy masterpieces The Hobbit, and The Lord of the Rings (3 Book Box set). On the basis of his current effort, I'd say Simon's work is well-enough done that it would be published no matter what his last name was.
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on 5 August 2013
The writing was good, the characters were fairly well-developed and the plot was believable, but, in the end, I couldn't really bring myself to CARE about the characters or "who did it"...
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on 8 December 2012
I had not read anything of this author before and although I have not quite finished this book am enjoying it. I look forward to reading 'Orders from Berlin' which I also bought; in fact several friends are getting this book as a Christmas present on the strength of how I am enjoying The Inheritance. In places it reminded me of how Dan Brown writes! Now have 3 of his books on my kindle.
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on 30 September 2013
Was pretty obvious 'who done it' from early on, also a lot of spelling mistakes and gramatical errors that should have been picked up when proof read by the publisher,
Ending was poor, almost gave the character a super hero status which I didn't feel matched the rest of the book,
I like this author, the basic story line and plot was good, just needed something more..
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on 20 January 2013
This was my first Simon Tolkien book. I saw him on Breakfast TV and was impressed by him so I thought I'd try one of his books.

It was a very good read. I read the book in less than a week and thoroughly enjoyed the story and the pace of the book never lets you get bored.

I'll definatley be buying another.
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on 15 October 2013
The story itself was great but the writing let it down and made it hard to stay with the tale. The multiple switches in narrative point of view (sometimes mid para!) made it very difficult to get to know the characters properly. I found it difficult to care about any of them and hence it was a struggle to get to the end.
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on 24 July 2010
Whilst I was reading this book I could see very clearly in my mind's eye that it would make a moderately satisfying two-hour tv film of the sub-Morse variety (picturesque views of Oxford and Oxfordshire and rustic Normandy), but it would need a lot of input from an adaptor who could actually write realistic dialogue. I was disappointed by Simon Tolkien's tin-ear for conversation and his inability to render a "feel" for the 1950s English character of the story's setting. There were also some things which were factually wrong, a sign of laziness, as he could easily have verified these either by hiring a research assistant or just Googling! Basically it is a murder mystery and the historic religious artefact which is supposedly at the centre of the tale turns out to be neither here nor there, really, and ultimately I found it a disappointing read.
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on 26 December 2013
This is a great compelling tripartite book. Nicely balanced but not ruined by a sloppy ending. It falls happily into crime fiction without being formulaic. The long lasting results of people's actions leave one continuing to meditate.
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on 2 April 2013
Another excellent book that keeps you fully occupied and wanting to keep reading. You are kept guessing until the end.
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