I had an odd experience reading this book; the plot is just similar enough to Knives Out that I had a weird superimposition of the setting. Despite this being set in the United Kingdom, as soon as they set foot in Mrs. Westaway’s house, I just immediately pictured the home in Knives Out. I picked this because I wanted a light read, and apparently my brain just went on autopilot.
Anyway, we find our heroine Harriet – called Hal (I like Ware well enough, but I’m getting irritated with all of her characters having twee nicknames, especially here where it doesn’t seem to have any impact or relevance) – in possession of a letter informing her that she is the beneficiary of her grandmother’s will. However, she doesn’t know the woman, even though they share the same unusual last name. Having lost her single mother three years before, she can’t go to her family for clarification, and with a loan shark breathing down her neck, she declines to explain the misunderstanding and claim her portion of the estate. Once there, she learns more about the family, and that she actually does have ties to them.
It’s a fun, twisty book, and worth reading, but with a few things that irritated me. The aforementioned name thing that Ware seems to make a feature of every book – our protagonist is almost always a woman with an androgynous or male nickname – is a small thing, but here there’s two characters with the same name who go by nicknames and it makes it really hard to keep track of who’s who. Additionally, they’re supposed to be distant relations, but have an unusual name with an unusual spelling that they share – how likely is that? Also, the loan shark plot seems to exist only to give Hal a reason to deceive the Westaways without seeming greedy, and once the inheritance mystery is resolved, we never hear about it again. As we all know, gangsters are always forgetting about debts they’ve threatened violence over.
But I’m nitpicking; this was fun and worth the read. But it really just makes me want to watch Knives Out again for a tale that was even twistier and actually resolved all its plot threads.