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A Dangerous Inheritance, by Alison Weir

review published on September 2, 2013. Reviewed by Kirsty Hewitt

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A Dangerous Inheritance is the newest offering from bestselling author Alison Weir, who has prior to this novel written sixteen works of non-fiction and three novels. In her newest novel, she weaves together the stories of Lady Katherine Grey and Kate Plantagenet, by way of the ‘most famous murder mystery in history’ – that of the princes in the tower.

Lady Katherine Grey is newly married when her portion of the tale begins. She stumbles upon what happened to one of her predecessors, Kate Plantagenet, the bastard child of Richard III, who had ‘embarked on a dangerous quest to find what really happened to her cousins, the young Princes who had last been seen as captives in the Tower’. Her novel is told from several differing perspectives – the diary entries and first person narratives of both women, and a third person perspective which oversees the more important political happenings and such. The present tense which she uses gives the reader the feeling that they are an intrinsic part of the story. The beginning of the novel is really quite gripping: ‘I can never forget the day they brought me the news that my sister’s head had been cut off’.

Thankfully, Weir has included four family trees at the start of the book, which really helps to focus the many similarly named characters in the mind. The novel has also been split into four parts – ‘Acts of Usurpation’, ‘Innocent Blood’, ‘Knots of Secret Might’ and ‘Greedy Death’. This splits it up into manageable sections, all of which lead nicely into one another. Weir’ real strength lies in the sense of place she has crafted and historical details which she has included: ‘Below the latticed windows the River Thames, busy with craft and the shouts of boatmen, glides swiftly past London towards the distant sea. There is the usual whiff of fish, mud and rotting stuff in the warm air…’. In this fashion, Weir is sure to sweep you back in time. Her novel is well written and impeccably researched, and will delight fans of historical fiction the world over.

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