This is a second book from the Times bestselling author of The Other Mrs Walker, Waterstones Scotland’s Book of the Year 2017, and if that also has the standard set in this novel then I shall be seeking it out soon.
Solomon Farthing knew he had one advantage. He held a pawn ticket belonging to a dead man tucked in his top pocket – the only real clue to the truth about him and possibly his relatives and to the £50,000 sewn into his burial suit.
Thomas Methuven had no will, no apparent relatives, and died alone in his Edinburgh nursing home. Solomon is an heir hunter, albeit one with no cash, debts and scrabbling around in the seedier parts of the city to try and make ends meet. To get a cut of the cash and help out the police woman friend DCI Franklin, who’s put him onto the case, Solomon will open up a whole raft of secrets from the past, some which will uncover his own ancestry.
The second timeline is at the end of the war in 1918. A group of abandoned soldiers are sheltering in a farmhouse billet awaiting orders or the end of the war. Amongst them is Captain Godfrey Farthing.
The amazing comradeship, petty arguments, jealousy and all embracing fear are captured brilliantly in the war scenes and slowly reveal the other men in the regiment with Farthing and all their treasures, which will become clues to the final unravelling of the present dilemma.
Jumping from soldier to soldier and across the years could have been difficult to follow for a reader but I felt it built the tension and slowly gave clues as to the final causes of the dead man’s demise.
There are also links to the cases of foundling children, difficulties in finding ‘lost’ parents and the overall need for love and structure in our families and lives.
As a personal read it was hugely absorbing and I loved all the characters, even those vying to ruin both lives and loves of the later fallout to the story. I think book cubs would like the idea but may find it overly male-dominated with war imagery at a time when we have moved on from intense commemoration of WWI.
Philipa Coughlan 4/3
The Inheritance of Solomon Farthing by Mary Paulson-Ellis
Mantle 9781447293941 hbk Sep 2019