Edmondson, Elizabeth. A Question of Inheritance.

Seattle: Thomas & Mercer, 2015.

This is the second in the author’s “Very English Mystery” series, set in the early 1950s in Britain and featuring semi-retired Secret Service agent Hugo Hawksworth, his adolescent sister, and Frey Wryton, all of them residents of Selchester Castle, a huge old place with a medieval core, but still in very good condition.

The previous Earl of Selchester was murdered and that case made up the plot of the first book, but the title seemed to have gone into abeyance in the absence of male heirs. And Lady Sonia, who was about to inherit the castle itself and the accompanying fortune, had plans to sell everything to a hotel chain.

But now Hugo and Freya have discovered that the late Earl (who was a real piece of work and pretty much had it coming) had been previously married when he was very young and that when his wife left him and went to the U.S., she was pregnant with his second son. Now, Augustine Fitzwarin (formerly Gus Mason), a university Classics professor, is somewhat bewildered to find himself the new Earl of Selchester and owner of the castle and all the rest of the estate, and he and his two daughters (the younger one conveniently Georgia’s age) have come to take up residence. Lady Sonia, of course, is not happy and she’s going to try to light-finger everything she can before people notice — especially those artworks up in the attic that aren’t listed in the inventory.

Gus, meanwhile, seems to have become the target of an assassin. And then a visiting art expert is murdered, though it may have been a mistake by the killer, and Hugo and Freya and Georgia have to figure things out, and quickly. Hugo has to rely heavily this time on the contacts he made among the Russians in his wartime career, especially since he’s not sure who he can trust in the Service.

It’s a well-written yarn with a good plot and characters. A good deal of quiet humor appears from the personal negotiations between the two American girls and Georgia, all of them very bright. And it’s obvious there will be another volume coming soon.

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