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by Ronald H. Balson
St Martin's, September 2017
356 pages
ISBN: 1250127440

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

Ex-CIA agent Liam Taggart left his Northern Ireland home under a cloud nineteen years ago. Now he finds himself called back to become his Uncle Fergus's trustee and to face the remaining hostility of the rest of his family. This Trust is a real piece of work. Liam can't disburse the estate of his uncle until his murder is solved.

While it has been twenty years since peace returned to Northern Ireland, the walls are still up and the distrust between the Protestants and the Catholics is strong. Could Fergus's death be a revenge killing? Or is it more likely "relativity," the theory of Inspector Farrell McLaughlin with whom Liam begins to work? Or could it be something completely other: angry Protestants, greedy family members, or something to do with gun smuggling?

Fergus's murder is followed by several more murders or near misses. However, when Liam's wife, new mother and Liam's sidekick in love, parenthood and sleuthing, is firebombed out of her house in Chicago, Liam is ready to drop the whole thing and leave The Trust and his birthplace behind forever.

THE TRUST is a real page-turner. Don't start this novel in the evening unless you plan to stay up all night. The atmosphere of Belfast is unsettling, with menace around every corner, and yet Liam and Farrell can find absolutely no clues, and find themselves simply standing by watching the death toll rise.

There are suspects, of course. Fergus had warned Liam in the Trust to trust no one. That means his aunt who raised him, the cousin who was his best friend as a child, two other uncles and another cousin who clearly wants Liam to go back to Chicago. And Janie, a niece and her boyfriend Charles, who does not seem to exist in any records that are available.

There are real enemies out there as well, relatives of families to whom the Taggarts have done grievous harm. When photos of a burned house turn up in family member's mailboxes, the plot thickens and readers will be finding themselves reading through dinner and bedtime, maybe throughout the night. Ronald Balson's fast paced mystery delivers great suspense and an ending so scary you won't forget it for sometime. Handling both the complexities of family problems and the legacy of an ancient civil war, Balson scores on both counts.

Susan Hoover is a playwright, independent producer and retired college English teacher. She lives in Nova Scotia.

Reviewed by Susan Hoover, October 2017

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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