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The Oxford Inheritance
Ann A. McDonald

William Morrow
February 23, 2016 / ISBN 978-0062203670
Psychological Suspense / Academic Settings

Reviewed by Linda Morelli


With her mother dead and her dad an unknown entity, Cassandra Blackwell has learned to fend for herself, even if her efforts aren't always honest. When she receives a battered manila envelope addressed to her dead mother with a note saying her mother "can't hide from the truth forever," Cassie clones an ID card and enrolls at her mother's old school: Raleigh College at Oxford University.

Evie, Cassie's new roommate, is researching the secret societies of the college, the School of Night. When Evie introduces her to Olivia and Hugo Mandeville, his dark gaze makes Cassie uneasy. With the help of Elliot, who works in the school library vaults, Cassie learns her mother's real name is Margaret Joanna Madison and she left Oxford five months before Cassie's birth.

When Evie commits suicide, Cassie learns that her roommate isn't the first to do so. Her mother's best friend, who wrote a paper about the School of Night, also committed suicide. And oddly enough, Evie's copy of the secret society paper has been stolen. With the help of Police Constable Charles Day, Cassie learns that the school had a rash of suicides every quarter century, going back to the nineteenth century. Did those deaths have something to do with her mother running away to the States? Who is Cassie's father? Was he a member of the School of Night? Did the secret society have anything to do with the many deaths?

Cassie, though flawed, is a great protagonist, one who has courage in the face of oppression. Constable Charley and Hugo provide a slight romantic interest, and no doubt Ann McDonald's personal experience at Oxford led to the setting's realism. The Oxford Inheritance is a darkly mesmerizing novel, with a mystery so intense that it took me on a frantic and satisfying ride.

Reviewer Linda Morelli is the award winning author of three published romance novels.
Reviewed 2016