Friday, 5 November 2010

Forgotten Books - Heir Presumptive

I’ve mentioned before my enthusiasm for the work of Henry Wade, and his Heir Presumptive, first published in 1935, which I’ve only just caught up with, is my choice today for Patti Abbott’s series of Forgotten Books. I’d sum it up as ‘Francis Iles meets Kind Hearts and Coronets’, and if you’re a regular reader of this blog, you’ll know that this is meant to be high praise!

Eustace Hendel is alerted by a newspaper item to the fact that he just might be line for an inheritance that will solve all his financial problems. And those problems are pressing; he is running out of cash, and risks losing his lovely but greedy girlfriend as a result. However, he sees a possible route to becoming the next Lord Barradys. Unfortunately, some family members stand in his way – you can guess what rascally Eustace starts to contemplate...

Henry Wade provides a family tree of the Hendels, which repays careful study. The account of Eustace’s attempts to secure the title and a fortune is very entertaining, and the action moves at a fast pace. There is a double twist at the end, and despite one or two implausibilities, the book is a light and lively read from start to finish.

Wade kept trying out different types of story – this may account for his relative lack of fame, but it also helps to make him a quite fascinating writer, arguably the most versatile of all the Golden Agers. Most of his work is darker in tone than Heir Presumptive, but I found the change in mood pleasing and achieved with real flair. This is a breezy book that I’d strongly recommend to fans of older mysteries.

5 comments:

Margot Kinberg said...

Martin - Thanks, as always, for your contribution to Forgotten Books. As soon as I read your description of the book at the beginning of your post, I knew it would be worth reading. So glad you enjoyed it, and I must look that one up myself.

Minnie said...

I second Margot's comment, Martin. And would add that I love the 'Kind Hearts & Coronets' style of plot (as, I suspect, do an awful lot of people when somewhat jaded with family life ... ;-)!), & shall definitely look out for this one. Thank you.

Dean James said...

Martin -- I haven't read this particular Wade novel (though I think I have it somewhere in the vast piles of unread books at home) but I have read several others of his and enjoyed them all. Maybe I need to dig this one out and give it a read...

aguja said...

I love the sound of this book. It feels as if it could be my sort of novel. I shall look out for it. It is wonderful to have forgotten books placed in front of us by you, because they would otherwise remain lost to view.

Martin Edwards said...

Thanks for your reactions. You can tell I really enjoyed this one. I'm not saying the solution is unguessable - but it's written in such an appealing way that it's easy to be hooked.