Once you know, you can’t forget
1966. A horrifying crime at a secondary school, with devastating consequences for all involved.
2008. A life-changing gift, if only the recipient can work out why . . .
First word: Wow. Last word: WOOOOW.
I can’t quite praise this book enough. What an amazing debut by G J Minett; it will definitely be a hard one to follow (I type this as I eagerly await the publication of his second novel Lie In Wait. March 9th guys. Note it.)
So I finished The Hidden Legacy Saturday night after being on my ‘to read’ list for quite some time. To be completely honesty I was utterly lost for words when I closed the book on the last page. I couldn’t form a sentence to express how I was feeling (in a 100% good way!) The novel is a definite page turner, that much I can tell you.
Minett has a gift. He is no doubt a writer who can do what some may think impossible. He can split the plot in different directions yet somehow cross stitch all the pieces back together, ensuring that all the loose ends have been tied. The final twist of the novel itself had me holding my breath and it was only when I got to part four, did I actually breathe again.
The book opens with the narration of a lone young boy. It becomes increasingly obvious as the pacing of the writing quickens that this young boy is about to do something unforgettable. This is the immediate draw. For in 1966. this young boy, John Michael Adams walks into his school grounds and sets fire to two young girls. One dies, the other is scarred for life. My mouth was hanging open at the end of the prologue. I remember my eyes popping.
Flash forward to 2008 when Ellen Sutherland, a recently divorced mother of two, receives a letter from a solicitor urging her to make contact regarding the last will and testimony of one Eudora Nash. At first, Ellen believes they have the wrong person, for the name Eduora Nash means absolutely nothing to her.
Not knowing what possesses her and after a strange phone call with the Solicitor, Ellen decides to trust fate and makes a six-hour trip to the Cotswolds. And low and behold, nestled a few miles from Cheltenham, Ellen comes face to face with a picturesque cottage that, once all necessary paperwork have been signed, will belong solely to her.
Naturally, Ellen is shocked, in disbelief and most importantly, confused as to why this cottage has been left to her by someone she has never heard of. And thus, the long road to discovering answers, begins. Going back and forth between her mother whose memory has deteriorated rapidly and her boss whose like a father, the list of questions gets longer and responses are far too evasive.
The deeper Ellen digs, the more confused she becomes. The spider web continues to tangle with more questions emerging at every turn, until a faithful Reverend of the village hands her two very important letters. Letters that hold all the answers she’s been searching for. It’s just whether she is receptive to learn.
A powerful debut, Minett uses the novel to portray a number of different characters and we have the pleasure of seeing the development in the timeline through one character in particular, who manages to lace together the entirety of the plot. There are so many emotional responses to the characters and what they endure in order to hide and search and uncover the secrets from the past, that it is really hard not to sympathise with all of them.
What really grasped my heartstrings though was the concluding connection between Eudora and Ellen – something that I did not see coming and something Minett handles with easy grace. In my mind, The Hidden Legacy is not what I’d class the usual psychological thriller, but it is no doubt, undeniably one of the best of the genre from an incredible writer. It is well worth the read.
So I had the absolute pleasure of meeting Graham and it was clear from the go, his passion for writing and for his audience is outstanding. I’m eagerly anticipating his next book, Lie In Wait. I am still so gutted I didn’t have his book on me when meeting him. It would have been an honour to have it signed!