Tuesday, March 3, 2015

The Belting InheritanceThe Belting Inheritance by Julian Symons
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Julian Symons' "The Belting Inheritance", after a very promising start, gradually fizzles to standard, boring mystery fare. At least it gives me a chance to write a short review - always a good thing.

The narrator, Christopher, loses both parents at the age of 12. Lady Wainwright, his great-aunt, invites him to stay at her grand Belting residence, where he lives during his school years. Having finished the studies at Oxford, Christopher returns to Belting. Lady Wainwright is dying of cancer, and one of her sons, presumed killed during World War II, comes back to claim his part of inheritance. His brothers are sure he is an impostor and there is a lot of trouble at Belting, including murder.

I love Mr. Symons' truly captivating and plausible setup for the mystery, his use of Spoonerisms ("strippling ream", etc.), and his puns. The chemistry between Christopher and Uncle Miles is shown with great skill as are the dreamlike passages describing the narrator indulging in pastis in Taverne Maximilien Robespierre in Paris. Alas, the further we go, the more boring and contrived the plot becomes, and it has been quite an effort to finish reading the novel, amidst ridiculous twists of the story.

Two and a half stars.

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