cover image The Heiress

The Heiress

Rachel Hawkins. St. Martin’s, $29 (304p) ISBN 978-1-250-28003-9

Hawkins (The Wife Upstairs) delivers a delicious tale of murder, greed, and the ties that bind. The flamboyant Ruby McTavish, who was famous in her home state of North Carolina for surviving a kidnapping as a child and burning through four husbands as an adult, controlled a vast family fortune until her death 10 years ago. Camden, Ruby’s adopted son and sole heir, is now a high school English teacher living in California. He has not been back to Ashby House, his mother’s estate, since she died, nor has he spent any of the money she left behind on himself. Instead, he puts the inheritance toward the upkeep of his deteriorating family manse and his cousins’ dubious business enterprises. An email from one of those cousins brings Camden back to Ashby House so he and the others can finally hash out the details of Ruby’s will. Camden’s wife, Jules, urges him to go, not fully understanding the snake pit that awaits them in North Carolina. After they arrive, past secrets come to light, and dark questions emerge about Ruby’s past, her intentions with Camden, and the fates of her husbands. Alternating Ruby’s frank, funny letters with chapters narrated by Camden and Jules, Hawkins does an excellent job keeping readers off-balance throughout. Nonstop twists and surprises make this a true thrill ride. Agent: Holly Root, Root Literary. (Jan.)