The Daughter

The Disappearance

I Do, Again

No Sin Too Great

The Inheritance by Jasmine Cresswell
(Mira, $5.99, PG) ISBN 1-55166-511-5
The Inheritance is a story with a lot of things going on and it holds the reader’s interest from start to finish. The cross and double cross of the suspense thread, the dynamics of a family with one foot each in legitimate and illegitimate businesses and the effect that ambiguity can have on its members, the inevitable sibling rivalries that happen when a parent favors one child over the others, and the romance between the protagonists -- all of these combined to make this a book worth reading.

Isabelle Joubert, a successful information systems manager in Chicago, has systematically stripped herself of any connection to her melodramatic, arms dealing relatives, most especially her adored father. The story opens with Isabelle on a plane headed to her father’s deathbed in Miami. Seven years ago, Isabella left her sheltered world behind when she could no longer pretend that her family was involved in strictly legitimate business deals.

The Joubert family has been selling arms to the highest bidder dating back to just after World War II. Marc Joubert’s legacy to his daughter is a computer disk that’s hotter than Santana’s Supernatural. Isabella’s deathbed mission, should she choose to accept it, is to use the information on the disk to make everything right. Gee, thanks Dad.

Trouble is, there are a few others interested in the disk for reasons all their own and none of the people involved -- from the customs agents to the requisite thugs -- particularly care how they get it. Not having an opportunity to see what’s on the disk, Isabelle takes it back to Chicago unleashing a chain of events that eventually force her back to Miami.

Isabelle and Sandro Marchese, an undercover customs agent, had a previous relationship and Sandro used Isabelle in the past to get information unavailable to a lackey, trusted or otherwise. As a testament to the network of information developed and utilized by Marc Joubert, Sandro’s cover is quickly blown and his actions in that situation add depth to the existing conflict between Isabelle and Sandro.

The amazing thing about The Inheritance is that you get all this information in the first 75 or so pages and there’s still a lot of story to tell. The author handles the suspense with a deft hand giving enticing little breadcrumbs -- okay, croutons -- to keep up interest in what basically is not a “new” storyline.

There are the basic plot elements you’d expect in this kind of story -- attempts to retrieve the disk by the bad guys that result in murder, the obligatory search and destruction of Isabelle’s home and a host of other things that are pretty standard but with plenty of twists. What really sets this novel above the usual suspects are the complex relationships the author clearly defines through circumstances and concise dialogue. For instance, there is the relationship between Isabelle and Donald, her stultifyingly, pompous, boring boyfriend who loves to pontificate on wine.

Both the primary and secondary characters remain consistent and believable which is a must in any suspense story, romantic or otherwise. There are no hosts of cardboard cutouts exhibiting criminally stupid behavior or mentally leaping tall buildings in a single bound. You will however, find a couple of clichés. Chiefly, the mother who is the quintessential rich, beautiful, self absorbed, I don’t have a clue my husband’s a crook and my eldest daughter is a cruel, ungrateful, .........well, you get the idea. Thankfully, she makes blessedly brief appearances.

For those who prefer the romance between the main characters to drive the plot, you’ll be disappointed. But the love is there and the author communicates it very well. Isabelle and Sandro have real issues and like intelligent, thoughtful, but flawed, humans they work it out. Still, they’ve got more important things to deal with. There is plenty of sexual tension but not a lot of sex. The actual or initial romance has already taken place and the reader gets bits and pieces in retrospect. That said, considering the circumstances, their road back to each other is logical and realistic.

If you’ve gathered so far that I enjoyed this book, well you’re right. I wholeheartedly recommend The Inheritance and I haven’t even touched on the fact that there will be a sequel or who it’s about. To do that would give away too much of the plot and all the good things that make this an excellent read.

--Wilda G. Turner

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