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Monday 20 February 2023

‘The Case of the Absent Heirs by Cathy Ace

Published by Four Tails Publishing,
29 December 2022.
ISBN: 978-1-99055007-2

The women of the WISE Enquiries Agency are very comfortably settled in the Welsh village of Anwyn-by-Wye, sponsored by Henry and Stephanie Twyst, the Duke and Duchess of Chellingworth and Henry’s mother, Althea, the Dowager Duchess. The four women of the agency, Carol, Christine, Mavis and Annie, are increasingly successful and have a good reputation, and, after a year of hard and sometimes traumatic work, they are determined to have a holiday during the Christmas period in which they can all visit their families. Unfortunately, their plans are disrupted when Mavis urges them to accept a case from a local solicitor that will require all of the WISE Women’s expertise and determination and potentially a lot of time. Mavis has good reason for this: she has tried for some time to get work from the solicitor’s father, who until his death, had been the head of the firm but the man had always chosen cheaper, less efficient, detective agencies. However, the solicitor’s son, who has inherited the firm, is desperate to find a solution to a case that his father had failed to solve because he employed the cheapest investigators. Carol, Christine and Annie agree to take the case, both to help the solicitor and because, if they are successful, they will get further work from him, although they feel slightly resentful that that Mavis has given them little choice. The detectives’ task is to track down the three sons of Gwynfor Jeffries, a man who died on the first of January, almost a year ago. The three sons disappeared soon afterwards and, according to their father’s will, if none of them claim their inheritance by the 2nd of January next year, the inheritance will go to Jeffries’ niece. For the solicitor the problem with this is that the niece is his wife and if she inherits rather than the sons his professional reputation could be severely damaged.

The formidable skills of the WISE Women track down the three heirs, but it becomes evident that they do not wish to be found and two of the detectives sustain injuries as the men resort to violence to evade them. The other WISE Women had dismissed Annie’s suggestion that Jeffries’ sons had been responsible for his death but now it appears increasingly likely and a case that had promised to be arduous and time-consuming now seems increasingly dangerous.

As well as this paid case, the detectives take on two free investigations. Annie works with her boyfriend, Tudor, the landlord of the local pub, along with other enraged villagers, to discover who is glueing boxes to people’s doorsteps so that the recipient has to open them in public view. The contents of the boxes are all different and extremely unpleasant and seem to be a comment on the person who receives them. Those who care about Annie are concerned about the effect this nastiness might have on her, because a recent case had left her traumatised and they don’t want her recovery to be impeded. However, Annie is less traumatised than angry that the gruesome gift giver is targeting vulnerable people and, when the receipt of a box causes an elderly lady to have a heart attack, Annie is even more determined to discover the culprit.

The other unpaid case the WISE Women undertake is for Stephanie Twyst who is very worried about her parents, who have retired to enjoy the proceeds of their business after a lifetime of hard work. Stephanie fears that her father has been conned into investing in a cleverly faked solar panel business. Henry Twyst is unhappy that his nine months pregnant wife is upset and horrified at the thought that, if his parents-in-law lose their money, they may have to live permanently at Chellingworth Hall. Christine and her lover, Alexander Bright, decide that it is necessary to con the exploitative couple in order to get Stephanie’s parents’ money back and an invitation is issued to have dinner at Chellingworth.

The Case of the Absent Heirs is the sixth novel in the series featuring the WISE Enquiries Agency and it’s a series that gets stronger and more engaging all the time. It is a complex novel, with three separate but interacting stories. It is a warm, funny, feel-good novel with hidden depths, in which the detectives are determined to solve their cases while celebrating Christmas in a traditional Welsh way and also dealing with their personal, relationship issues. The protagonists are engaging, and the setting is delightful. The Case of the Absent Heirs is a page turner, which I thoroughly recommend.

Reviewer: Carol Westron

Cathy Ace was born and raised in Swansea, South Wales. With a successful career in marketing having given her the chance to write training courses and textbooks, Cathy has now finally turned her attention to her real passion: crime fiction. Her short stories have appeared in multiple anthologies. Two of her works, Dear George and Domestic Violence, have also been produced by Jarvis & Ayres Productions as ‘Afternoon Reading’ broadcasts for BBC Radio 4. Cathy now writes two series of traditional mysteries: The Cait Morgan Mysteries (TouchWood Editions) and The WISE Enquiries Agency Mysteries (Severn House Publishers)

Carol Westron is a successful author and a Creative Writing teacher.  Her crime novels are set both in contemporary and Victorian times.  Her first book The Terminal Velocity of Cats was published in 2013. Since then, she has since written 6 further mysteries. Carol recently gave an interview to Mystery People. To read the interview click on the link below.

To read a review of Carol latest book
The Curse of the Concrete Griffin
click on the title 

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