Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Review: The Trust

Summary: The newest novel from Ronald H. Balson, the international bestselling author of Once We Were Brothers, finds private investigator Liam Taggart returning to his childhood home for an uncle's funeral, only to discover his death might not have been natural.

When his uncle dies, Liam Taggart reluctantly returns to his childhood home in Northern Ireland for the funeral—a home he left years ago after a bitter confrontation with his family, never to look back. But when he arrives, Liam learns that not only was his uncle shot to death, but that he’d anticipated his own murder: In an astonishing last will and testament, Uncle Fergus has left his entire estate to a secret trust, directing that no distributions be made to any person until the killer is found. Did Fergus know, but refuse to name, his killer? Was this a crime of revenge, a vendetta leftover from Northern Ireland’s bloody sectarian war? After all, the Taggarts were deeply involved in the IRA. Or is it possible that the killer is a family member seeking Fergus’s estate? Otherwise, why postpone distributions to the heirs? Most menacingly, does the killer now have his sights on other family members?

As his investigation draws Liam farther and farther into the past he has abandoned, he realizes he is forced to reopen doors long ago shut and locked. Now, accepting the appointment as sole trustee of the Fergus Taggart Trust, Liam realizes he has stepped into the center of a firestorm. -- St. Martin's Press

I was extremely excited to see that Ronald H. Balson had a new book in his Liam Taggart and Catherine Lockhart series. THE TRUST is the fourth book in this series, and I have thoroughly enjoyed the prior two that I've read ONCE WE WERE BROTHERS and KAROLINA'S TWINS -- you can read my review here and here. Obviously, I need to get my hands on a copy of SAVING SOPHIE because I love these characters and I love these books!

THE TRUST mainly stars Liam, although fans of Catherine will be happy to know that she does make a few cameo appearances. This novel begins when Liam learns that his Uncle Fergus back in Northern Ireland has died. Liam and his uncle have been estranged for years, but Liam decides to return home to say goodbye. Upon his arrival, he discovers that his uncle was murdered... and that he had a feeling that it would happen.

Liam isn't exactly greeted warmly by his family when he returns home. No one (minus one cousin) is happy he's there because of the huge fallout when Liam left. Imagine their reactions when they learn that Uncle Fergus left all of his assets in a trust until his killer is found... and that Liam was appointed the trustee.

In addition to dealing with many angry relatives, Liam is forced to face some baggage from his past including his relationship with his uncle, the loss of his parents, his role in a spy for the U.S. government, and even the end of an engagement. Even more important, Liam wants to get to the bottom of who is responsible for his uncle's murder. His uncle and all his brothers were heavily involved with the IRA, so Liam wonders if it could be someone with a grudge from the past?

As Liam gets more involved and closer to discovering the truth, the stakes get higher. Members of his family start getting killed -- one at a time, and even Catherine and his young son are at risk. Liam has to balance the memories of his past with the events of present day and find the killer before he loses everything!

I found THE TRUST to be a highly entertaining mystery! I honestly love Liam and Catherine and I think Mr. Balson reinforced that he knows how to weave a historical fiction mystery. In the case of the TRUST, Mr. Balson takes the reader to Northern Ireland and even back in time to when the IRA was in full force. I have always found Ireland's history to be fascinating (especially after visiting the Belfast and seeing the walls dividing the neighborhoods), so I loved the backdrop of this novel.

I also found the mystery angle of the story to be a great one. I honestly changed my mind at least ten times about who I thought was responsible for the murders. And while I'd like to say that I figured out everything before it was revealed, I'd be lying. I was on the right track, but I definitely didn't get everything right. Good thing I wasn't the one that needed to solve the mystery before my family members were all killed!

One of my favorite things about Mr. Balson's novels are the characters of Liam and Catherine. They've come a long way in four books and are now parents of a baby boy. Liam and Catherine are a fantastic couple and they definitely complement each other both personally and professionally. Even though this novel was about Liam and his Irish family, Catherine still managed to keep him or track from the States; and I love that it's her intuition that is always right!

THE TRUST really delved into Liam's past and I so appreciated learning more about him. Not only was it interesting to read about his childhood and even his years as an agent for the U.S. government in Ireland, but I found the parts about his fiancee to be enlightening too. I really felt as if the author did a terrific job in developing Liam's character, and it definitely brought this mystery to the next level for me.

I am an even bigger fan of this author and this series after reading THE TRUST. You can definitely start with the TRUST -- it does work as a stand-alone novel -- but I recommend reading the entire series. The books are a wonderful blend of historical fiction, mystery, and drama... and you don't want to miss out on them!

Thanks to the publisher for providing a review copy of this novel.


bermudaonion said...

I'm sure I'd love the setting since I find Northern Ireland fascinating too. This sounds like a great book.

Kim@Time2Read said...

I haven't read anything else by this author but I read and loved Karolina's twins! But the character I really liked in that book was Lena, so I'm not sure I'd feel the same say about his other novels. I should probably read at least one more just to find out! Which one would you recommend I try; the first?

Julie P. said...

Kim, I'd start with the first one to get all of the Liam's history! I have enjoyed all 3 so I might not be the right person to ask!

Mystica said...

Third positive review in two days I've read about this author and book. Thanks for the review.