Blurb: June 8, 1921. Ireland.
A British Officer is shot dead on a remote hillside south of Dublin.
November 22, 2015. United Kingdom.
Former police detective, Jayne Sinclair, now working as a genealogical investigator, receives a phone call from an adopted American billionaire asking her to discover the identity of his real father.
How are the two events linked?
Jayne Sinclair has only three clues to help her: a photocopied birth certificate, a stolen book and an old photograph. And it soon becomes apparent somebody else is on the trail of the mystery. A killer who will stop at nothing to prevent Jayne discovering the secret hidden in the past.
The Irish Inheritance takes us through the Easter Rising of 1916 and the Irish War of Independence, combining a search for the truth of the past with all the tension of a modern-day thriller.
It is the first in a series of novels featuring Jayne Sinclair, genealogical detective.
My Rating: 5/5
Review: Anyone who has been following me for a few months will know that I already love and cannot wait for the next in the Danilov series by this author, or what I refer to at home as the Shanghai books, so when I was asked if I wanted to be involved in this blog tour it didn’t take long for me to make my decision.
As with the Danilov books the stand out feature of this story is Lee’s ability to draw the reader in fast and create vivid imagery and characters through his writing. The story moves between different time periods though the main ones are November 2015 and the time from just before the 1916 Easter Rising to approx. 1930. Before I read this book I knew a little about the Easter Rising, partly because of this being the 100 year anniversary as was mentioned on the television a few months ago. However, a mention on the news doesn’t convey what it was like to actually be there, to be involved in the revolution, the noise, smells and sounds that anyone in Dublin at that time would have experienced. For me, this book did exactly that. I took the book with me when I went away for a weekend break and was reading it outside one evening as the darkness of night closed in around me. During this time I was reading of one of the characters experiences of Dublin under shell and gunfire, the open hostility they experienced from people who thought they should be fighting in France and the realities of being in a battle when you have no previous experience of one. I was sitting in a garden bordering woodland which is well populated with birds, deer and other animals so there were frequent rustling noises and every time I heard one I looked up, jumpy and anxious because of the book. The writing was so good at recreating Dublin’s sights, sounds and smells and the feelings of the character that I felt like I was there and the noises from the woodland startled me out of that and reminded me where I really was. It got so bad that I ended up having to go back inside because I needed to take a break from the intensity of the writing and the events I was reading about.
As I’ve said I started reading this and continued while it got dark. My second reading session was outside during daylight hours (when you have good weather you take advantage of it!) and again the writing drew me in. As well as the events in 1916 and later, there were the events in 2015 that were grabbing my attention. As I read the world around me disappeared and I was sucked into Jayne Sinclair’s life and work. I got annoyed at things I felt she should do but wasn’t, got excited or emotional when things worked out and almost reached out to touch someone when she did even though they weren’t there. At times I felt like I was walking beside her, following her every move and at other times I felt like I was her, experiencing everything she experienced both good and bad.
Although I’ve gone on about the feelings and descriptions I’ve barely mentioned the characters but those are as brilliantly written as the rest of the book. Every character has depth, even with the minor ones their frustration, sadness or pride is clearly conveyed and this is why this book and Lee’s Danilov books are so good. They are written in such a way that everything is real and you, the reader, are transported instantly from a wet and soggy Manchester to to Dublin 1916 where you can hear bullets whistling past your ears.
I realise this review is probably a little long but, to me, the book deserves it. There are few authors that I have read who write so well that I am transported and can hear, feel and smell everything associated with the location I’m reading. Unsurprisingly MJ Lee is one of them and that is what makes this book so good. From this book you get the sort of reading experience that other authors can only dream of being able to provide, the writing picks you up and takes you away somewhere else.
This is true escapism, time travel from your own sofa, and it is a rare thing indeed. If you like historical fiction, genealogy or have read the Danilov novels then I would highly recommend this book. If this is not your usual genre then I would give it a go, you never know, you might love it. So, get the kettle on, find a comfy quiet spot to read and prepare to be whisked away into the past, its an experience not to be missed!
Many thanks to the author and Neverland Blog Tours for letting me have a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Author bio: Martin has spent most of his adult life writing in one form or another. As a University researcher in history, he wrote pages of notes on reams of obscure topics. As a social worker with Vietnamese refugees, he wrote memoranda. And, as the creative director of an advertising agency, he has written print and press ads, tv commercials, short films and innumerable backs of cornflake packets and hotel websites.
He has spent 25 years of his life working outside the North of England. In London, Hong Kong, Taipei, Singapore, Bangkok and Shanghai, winning awards from Cannes, One Show, D&AD, New York and London Festivals, and the United Nations.
Whilst working in Shanghai, he loved walking through the old quarter of that amazing city, developing the idea behind a series of crime novels featuring Inspector Pyotr Danilov, set in 1920s and 30s.
When he’s not writing, he splits his time between the UK and Asia, taking pleasure in playing with his daughter, practicing downhill ironing, single-handedly solving the problem of the French wine lake and wishing he were George Clooney.