cover image The Belting Inheritance

The Belting Inheritance

Julian Symons. Poisoned Pen, $12.95 trade paper (238p) ISBN 978-1-464210-87-7

An intriguing puzzle centered on identity drives this entry in the British Library Crime Classics series, first published in 1965, from MWA Grand Master Symons (1912–1994). Within five weeks in 1944, Lady Wainwright learns that two of her four sons, Hugh and David, are missing in action and presumed dead. Some years after WWII, Oxford student Christopher Barrington, the nephew of Lady Wainwright, returns to Belting, the family home, after learning that she’s dying of cancer. Lady Wainwright reveals that she has just received a letter purporting to be from David. The writer explains that he escaped his fighter plane’s crash with a minor injury, only to end up in a Russian labor camp for seven or eight years. David’s mother naturally considers the missive a miracle, but her surviving sons are skeptical. The claimant’s arrival at Belting is followed by a murder, whose solution is tied to the question of whether David is an imposter. Symons throws in some clever twists, though the book is less memorable than similarly themed mysteries such as Josephine Tey’s Brat Farrar. (Jan.)