Preview Reviews: Inheritance of Secrets by Sonya Bates

Preview Reviews: Inheritance of Secrets by Sonya Bates

A brutal murder. A wartime promise. A quest for the truth. Kate Furnivall meets Caroline Overington in this gripping, page-turning mystery.

Read our Preview reviewer thoughts here:

‘Inheritance of Secrets’ is an exploration of time, culture and humanity. In this historical thriller clues are planted throughout the decades. Observe some, but ignore others,   as you will be kept guessing until the very end. – KB, SA, 4 stars

I found Inheritance of Secrets by Sonya Bates to be quite an easy read and enjoyable, with enough intrigue and suspense to keep me engaged in reading the book. At times I didn’t want to put the book down to find out what happens next. The book highlights the seriousness of war and how the aftermath continues to affect families and the society as a whole. While Juliet is left reeling from her family tragedy, it highlights to her true personalities and human nature and the importance of her family relationships. – Kathryn, VIC, 4 stars

I was very excited to receive a copy of ‘Inheritance of Secrets’ through Better Reading’s Preview program. This book would appeal to those who enjoy both historical fiction and mystery, and is the perfect social-isolation read.     I was impressed by how easily Sonya Bates transitioned between present and past throughout the book. It added intrigue and depth to have the historical aspects told from a different point of view.     I liked the character development throughout the novel, particularly around the interpersonal relationships. There were some parts I thought could have been fleshed out a little more, however did not detract from the story as a whole.     I look forward to reading more from Sonya in the future! – Anusha, VIC, 4 stars

I was instantly hooked and couldn’t put this book down! Great characters, and a thrilling storyline. Fabulous! – Erin, QLD, 4 stars

Sonya Bates’ The Inheritance of Secrets deftly melds historical fiction with a thoroughly modern murder mystery, delivering a gripping pageturner of a book.  The flash back accounts of post-war Europe, the long sea voyage to a new life and arriving in 1940s/50s Australia were fascinating.  Following the traumatic loss of her grandparents, Juliet’s life begins to fall apart as she tries to get to the bottom of the mystery.  I found The Inheritance of Secrets a well crafted and compassionate story full of mystery, suspense and intriguing historical reference.  Highly recommend! – Imogen, VIC, 4 stars

I recieved this book as I was grieving the death of my own Dad and Grandma, so the storyline of Juliet’s Opa and Oma was an emotional read for me.  Bates’ duel storyline of Karl’s German past gives the present day Australian mystery/detective/ thriller storyline a strong background, with unique characters.  This was quite an easy and enjoyable read, though Bates describes characters, situations, and scenes quite fully that sometimes I became more engrossed in the words rather than the story. – Amanda, VIC, 4 stars

I found myself engrossed in “Inheritance of Secrets” from the outset. Juliet could not understand why anyone would brutally murder her grandparents. Was this related to her grandfather’s service in the German Army?    In Juliet’s search for answers, we are taken back to Germany during WWII, post-war Europe and Australia post-war through to today. Whether writing about the past or the present, Sonya Bates story is beautifully written with convincing characters and well-drawn settings. The past is not merely a backdrop but is an integral part of the story and makes equally compelling reading as the current day sections.     Family bonds, loyalty, trust and guilt are just some of the issues addressed. As Juliet delves into the past to find the motive for the murders, family secrets and more unsettling questions emerge. Was her sister somehow involved and why was her mother uncontactable? Was she herself a target?    The past catches up with the present.    Highly recommended reading.  – Sue, QLD, 5 stars

I was lucky enough to receive an advanced reading copy of Inheritance of Secrets, the debut novel by Sonya Bates and what a great read it was!  Set in Adelaide, this fast-paced story is a mix of murder mystery and historical fiction. The story jumps between modern day and post WWII Germany, but the writing is perfectly executed and flows freely between the two timelines.  The author has clearly researched the time period thoroughly as the descriptions were vivid and brought the 1950’s to life brilliantly.  The characters are written with depth and I found myself caring about them and hanging to find out what happens to them.  Some of the action was a little far-fetched, but isn’t the point of a novel to help us suspend belief and immerse ourselves in another world while in-between its pages? I thoroughly enjoyed this book, I thought it was a compelling read and an outstanding debut – definitely a new author to add to my must read list. – Ami, VIC, 5 stars

Having never read any of Sonya Bates works, I embarked on “Inheritance of Secrets” with no preconceptions. I must admit that an interest in family history and a recent visit to the battlefields in France meant that the mystery of a family secret dating from World War II, coupled with a modern-day crime left me looking forward to the read.     I was not to be disappointed. The twists and turns in the plot and the experiences of the main character, Juliet, led to many a late night, as I couldn’t put the book down. I sincerely hope that Juliet’s experiences may lead her to have more adventures in the future!     “Inheritance of Secrets” is an exciting “whodunnit”, whose seamless transitions into the carefully researched past make this book an absolute must-read for lovers of crime and history. – Karina, QLD, 5 stars

My two favourite genres; murder/mystery and WWII historical fiction intertwined into one intriguing plot line.  Inheritance of Secrets follows the story of author Juliet as she uncovers the secrets that led to her German immigrate Oma and Opa’s (ex WWII German soldier) brutal murders in their Adelaide family home.  Sonya Bates’ storyline was seamless, the transition between the dual timelines; Juliet’s modern world chapters and Karl’s (Juliet’s Opa) historical chapters, flowed exceptionally well. The lingering mystery within the plot held me capitative from cover to cover.  Inheritance of Secrets is a novel that will hold a secure seat in my Top 10 Books, receiving without a doubt a solid 5 star rating.   Definitely excited to see what other novels debut adult author Sonya Bates has up her sleeve, an author to keep an eye out for.    Thank you to Better Reading and Harper Collins for my ARC in exchange for an honest review. – Jacinda, NSW, 5 stars

Sonya Bates debut novel is an enthralling read combining murder, mystery and history. The story combines the past and present seamlessly, capturing the reader’s attention from the onset. The love story between Karl and Grete is depicted beautifully. However, secrets from the past lead to their vicious murder which in turn becomes the catalyst that unites the fractured relationship between their granddaughters as they attempt desperately to discover the truth. The numerous twists and turns keep the reader intrigued till the end. I highly recommend this book and look forward to reading future novels by this author.     Thanks to Better Reading and Harper Collins for the ARC. – Karen, NSW, 5 stars

This was a very hard book to put down, I found myself eagerly turning the next page to find out what would happen next. The characters were so real that I found myself expecting to bump into them when I was walking down the street, particularly as the main setting was in my own state and I could easily picture the places and landmarks which Sonya so vividly described.  The obvious amount of research which Sonya put into her writing kept me sitting on the edge of my seat and it was all so ‘real’ that I could have been reading an autobiography rather than a work of fiction.  Sonya Bates gets a huge ‘Tick of Approval’ and I can hardly wait for her next book. With a first publication like this one I feel certain she will be right up there with the ‘greats’.  – Terry, SA, 5 stars

An Inheritance of Secrets is an enticing and entrancing mystery. A beautifully woven tale of family, love, and a wartime secret. This book is perfectly timed for the current social climate, reminding us of the real cost of conflict and the true suffering of migrants and refugees. – Teagan, SA, 5 stars

I quite enjoyed Inheritance of Secrets. I do like a good mystery and history rolled together. I did feel the end was slightly rushed and maybe a bit confused, but even so, this is an enjoyable read. – Alice, NSW, 3 stars

A wonderfully written, suspenseful modern Australian thriller, with a touch of historical fiction, Inheritance of Secrets was a fantastic little ride of a novel.    Sonya Bates’ writing style flowed so elegantly between the past and present and kept me page turning until I could finally get the answers to the questions that mysteriously arose with each chapter.    Whilst I did struggle initially to connect to the main character Juliet, the more I read the more I appreciated her determination and resilience in finding answers to her Grandparents brutal and mysterious murder. The tense and complicated dynamic between Juliet and her sister Lily was a wonderful added layer of family drama, which contrasted beautifully to Juliets other relationships both old and new that developed throughout the story. I also really enjoyed the chapters taking place in Karl’s past, it really added a level of historical sophistication and post war emotion that I think contributed perfectly to making Juliets search for answers all the more emotional and desperate for the reader.    Looking forward to more brilliant thrillers by Sonya Bate, she has a true knack for mixing genres in a graceful and successful way. Thank you to Better Reading and Harper Collins Australia for gifting this ARC to me for review. – Hayley, QLD, 4 stars

I enjoyed reading ‘The Inheritance of Secrets’. The story is interesting and moves between the Second World War and its aftermath and the present day with ease. I liked the easy flow of the book. It provides a unique spin on the migration to Australia after the war and the Nazi campaign to hide stolen treasures. It is believable and intriguing. I found the latter part of the book to be particularly exciting and couldn’t put the book down until I reached the end. I recommend this book as a compelling and easy read.  – Sandra, ACT, 4 stars

I loved this book by Sonya Bates! I don’t normally read much historical fiction but I was absolutely hooked from the first chapter and the lingering mystery throughout the story just kept me not wanting to put it down for a single second. The story is both sad and suspenseful yet hopeful and compassionate and I loved the backwards and forwards between the past and the present. All in all a 5 star read for me! – Amanda, VIC, 5 stars

Inheritance of Secrets, by Sonya Bates, is a gripping, historical fiction, that is sure to have you hooked from the get go.  A modern day tale, intertwined with connections to days gone by. I found this novel thoroughly enjoyable, with well established characters and believable plot. Well done Sonya, and thank you Better Reading for this opportunity. – Bec, TAS, 5 stars

I found Inheritance of Secrets very intriguing.   The author allows us to effortlessly travel between the past and today to unravel a secret. – Janice, WA, 4 stars

Inheritance of Secrets by Sara Foster is a gripping fast moving “who done it” novel that keeps you guessing right to the end.   The book grabs you from the very beginning with the unexplained murder of Juliette’s loving grandparents. It takes you on a journey between the present day of Juliette trying to find answers to her grandparents murder and to Germany during WW2, where her grandparents lived before migrating to Australia.  The author develops believable, interesting characters that explores the relationships between Juliette and her estranged sister and boyfriend as well as mateships formed by her grandfather in hard times.  This book has a captivating story line that has you reading to the end to find the answers. – Julie, VIC, 5 stars

From the moment I read the synopsis of this book, which entwines my favourite genre of historical fiction with an intriguing murder mystery, I was eager to read it as soon as I could. Thanks to Better Reading and HarperCollins Books, I was lucky enough to receive an advanced copy.    Set along multiple timelines including war torn Germany, post-war Europe and Australia and modern day Australia, Inheritance of Secrets follows Juliet as she tries to uncover the secrets that led to her Grandfather (an ex-German soldier) and Grandmother’s murders.    Featuring the key themes of World War II, belonging, loyalty, trust, guilt, family bonds and integrity, this story questions how far you would go to pay someone back and emphasises that the past can always come back to haunt you or your loved ones.    The start of the book instantly captivated me, whilst the exhilarating ending had my heart pounding. I raced to the end of the book to find out the answers surrounding the thrilling mystery that transcended time and generations of a family.    Despite this, I found the middle of the story slow in parts. Whilst, I acknowledge, that with the current distractions in the world, it may have affected my ability to become fully immersed in the story, for me, personally, I wanted the suspense of the story to hold me the whole way and transport me to the times and events. As well as that, the ending left me with many unanswered questions that I wanted to be tied up. For instance, what happened to Juliet’s mother and Angela and Ernst? Was Ernst who he claimed he was? There seemed to be something missing from the plot.    I thoroughly enjoyed the insight Bates provided into how some migrants felt and what they endured in coming to Australia after the war and the development of the main characters, which allowed you to empathise with them.    Most importantly, this book encouraged me to take some time to consider once again what people in the past have experienced to make our world a better place and the number of stories pertinent to history that have been lost over time.    #BRPreview – Fleur, NSW, 3 stars

Congratulations, Sonya Bates on your first adult novel.  What a debut!  Inheritance of Secrets is the story of Juliet and her family, in particular her grandparents, who are mysteriously murdered in their home in Adelaide, South Australia. Karl Weiss and his wife Grete migrated to Australia from Germany after WWII and it’s not long after their deaths that Juliet suspects there may be more to their murders than first meets the eye. With her estranged sister Lily, Juliet sets out to find out why they were murdered and discovers there are is more to her grandparent’s past than she knew. This book is well written, fast paced and had me turning the pages right to the end. It has action, mystery, suspense and romance and the dual timeline between the present day and Karl’s younger life is something I often enjoy. By the way, my husband also enjoyed it and we are both looking forward to reading more from Sonya! – Cathie, QLD, 5 stars

Loved it  from beginning to end. Enjoyed it, well written and had my attention, was sorry when I had finished. – Lynette, NSW, 5 stars

The Inheritance of Secrets is at the heart of it a story about family relationships against a backdrop of two timelines in history. Its opening paragraph captured me immediately. A love story at its core and a narrative about family which harbors secrets and guilt. The main character Juliet the granddaughter of the murdered couple goes on a journey of self discovery as she looks for answer for her families past that isn’t what she believed it was. Her relationship with her troubled missing sister surfaces as Juliet looks for her while trying to find answers to her family history.  An exciting thriller which kept me encapsulated from the weary consequences of post war Germany to contemporary Adelaide Australia .  The novels offers us different perspectives of the second world war. One from a German soldier who fought for his country and nationhood and then sought a new life postwar to Australia. His friend also fought for Germany but despite the horrors of the Hitlers Nazi army he remains loyal to the regime.  The narrative moves at a good pace introducing interesting well drawn characters. The historic aspect of post war Germany and the Germans arriving to Australia was also well written and revealed the hardships and adaptation to a new country.  The Inheritance of Secrets was well written and the storyline revealed a family that loved each other despite the obstacles they had to cross and their differences that caused them to at times to be apart.  I enjoyed this book immensely and look forward to any new novels Sonya Bates may produce in the future. Thank you Better Reading for the book.  – Maria, VIC, 5 stars

I loved Inheritance of Distance by Sonya Bates.    Juliet’s grandparents are killed in their home and her grandfather’s signet ring is missing.   The story follows Juliet while she tries to understand why. It refers back to her grandparents life in Germany during WW2, then making a new life in Australia.  Were her grandparents involved in secrets from the past.     Very well written. All the characters were believable. I could not put the book down. – Fay, VIC, 5 stars

A fantastic page turning mystery! I couldn’t put it down, this book had me enthralled from the first page, desperately seeking the thrilling answer to the mystery. – Rachel, QLD, 5 stars

A great great story line that hooked me in.  The dual time line worked really well and Karl and Grete’s story was beautifully portrayed.  There was just something missing for me in the way the story flowed, the language felt stilted but otherwise a great read with a bit of history, mystery, crime and the odd twist! – Kim, QLD, 4 stars

When World’s Collide     Sara Foster takes you on an intricate journey in Inheritance of Secrets.     The story focuses on the death of Juliet Dunne’s grandparents in what seems like a break and enter gone wrong. Slowly more elements are revealed about her grandfather, his links to the Nazis and possible war crimes in WWII. Then there’s Angela who seems suspicious from the start but you just can’t work out why. The story runs in parallel as it takes you from the current day, but then weaves in the story of Karl Weis (Juliet’s grandfather) and his time in Germany during the war and his journey to Australia in 1949.    Simultaneously, Sara Foster intertwines Juliet’s relationship with her boyfriend Jason, a corporate high-flyer and her reunion with an old school flame, Ellis, now a journalist. This works well and you can feel the tension in Juliet as she struggles with her feelings about these two men in her life, while dealing with the personal and violent loss of her grandparents. Juliet’s world is clashing against the hidden world of her grandfather and the secrets he held for almost 70 years.    Overall a great read, perfect for an afternoon on the couch. – Lee, NSW, 4 stars

Inheritance Of Secrets is a wonderful, thrilling, modern day mystery with ties to the past. Juliet, an author, has to deal with the murder of her beloved Grandparent Karl and Margarete Weiss. Her Grandparents came to Australia during the 1940’s as immigrants from Germany. Their murders seem to be linked to their past and Juliet and her sister Lily soon find themselves in danger. I thoroughly enjoyed this gripping thriller. – Sharah, QLD, 5 stars

Inheritance of Secrets is one of those books that every time I had to put it down, I couldn’t wait to pick it up again! Juliet, the leading character of the novel, is charming, naive and thoroughly likeable and her investigation into her grandparents murder is written so compassionately, and her evident love for her grandparents was so beautifully expressed in the novel, that I couldn’t help but feel her frustrations and anger towards the accusations heaped upon her grandfather.    Intertwined in these investigations against her grandfather, Juliet is also seeking answers about her family and the connections between the past and present.     This novel is not a history lesson on Nazi Germany or WWII; it’s a superbly flowing novel with historic overtones and engaging characters. A thrillingly climatic expose, charming love story and family drama make Inheritance of Secrets a must-read! – Nicole, QLD, 5 stars

This book was a page turner from the first chapter. It starts off with a bang and continues the intensity throughout. I loved the juxtaposition between what was happening in the present and the flash backs, which really helps the reader form connections which all the main characters. It left me on the edge of my seat always wanting to see what was happening next. Such a wonderful book! – Amy, VIC, 5 stars

I loved this book!  Each chapter jumps between the past and the present. Slowly unraveling the pieces of the puzzle before they all drop into place. Would highly recommend it! – Kay, QLD, 5 stars

Inheritance of Secrets is very readable and relatable.    The story alternates between contemporary Adelaide and war-torn Europe featuring Juliet, herself a novelist and Karl, her grandfather and former Wehrmacht soldier.    Having lived in Adelaide I felt an affinity with the characters and locales.    Since childhood I’ve been drawn to stories of WW2, many of which prove revelatory with regard to human nature.    The combination, therefore, of alternate contemporary and historical threads was particularly compelling for me.    Congratulations to Sonya Bates on crafting a multi-dimensional thriller worthy of wide appeal. – Karen, VIC, 4 stars

I’m not sure if it’s because I’m an Aussie born, 30 year old female, or because my grandparents migrated here from Germany but this book just spoke to me!   I knew from the first few pages this was going to be a love story reminiscent of something from a Paulina Simons novel and I was not disappointed.   Sonya perfectly captures all the components and elements that she speaks of in her book, from the sing song relationship of siblings (sisters no doubt), realising potentially toxic relationships and the rekindling of ones lost to the real and honest fear of loss and trauma. It is lighthearted in a way that is just so.. Australian and relatable.   I could not put this book down and I was disappointed two days later when I had finished it. Sonya left me wanting more and I would be thrilled to read a sequel to this gorgeous Australian thriller. – Mercury, NSW, 5 stars


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          Publisher details

          Inheritance of Secrets
          Sonya Bates
          Fiction, Thriller
          20 April, 2020


          A brutal murder. A wartime promise. A quest for the truth. Kate Furnivall meets Caroline Overington in a gripping, page-turning mystery.No matter how far you run, the past will always find you.Juliet's elderly grandparents are killed in their Adelaide home. Who would commit such a heinous crime - and why? The only clue is her grandfather Karl's missing signet ring.When Juliet's estranged sister, Lily, returns in fear for her life, Juliet suspects something far more sinister than a simple break-in gone wrong. Before Juliet can get any answers, Lily vanishes once more.Juliet only knew Karl Weiss as a loving grandfather, a German soldier who emigrated to Australia to build a new life. What was he hiding that could have led to his murder? While attempting to find out, Juliet uncovers some disturbing secrets from WWII that will put both her and her sister's lives in danger ...Gripping. Tense. Mysterious. Inheritance of Secrets links the crimes of the present to the secrets of the past and asks how far would you go to keep a promise?
          Sonya Bates
          About the author

          Sonya Bates

          Sonya Bates is a Canadian writer who has made South Australia her home since 1997. She studied linguistics at the University of Victoria before obtaining a masters degree in speech-language pathology at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Canada. Having worked with children with communication difficulties for over twenty-five years, she now enjoys sharing her knowledge with speech pathology students as a part-time clinical educator. When her two daughters were young, she started writing for children and has published several children's books. Her debut adult novel, Inheritance of Secrets, was shortlisted as an unpublished manuscript in the inaugural Banjo Prize in 2018.

          Books by Sonya Bates


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