In “The Trust,” Ronald H. Balson, takes his readers to Northern Ireland on a whirlwind tour of Ireland and its troubles — both current and past. Liam Taggert, the Chicago detective who, with his lawyer wife Catherine, are the main characters in all Balson’s books, must deal with the past when it comes back to haunt him in this touching, thoughtfully-written story.
When Liam’s uncle Fergus dies, he leaves his property in a secret trust with Liam as the trustee. Liam is reluctant to return to Northern Ireland for the funeral, but Catherine urges Liam to go and reconcile with the family he hasn’t seen in years. Liam, who has been estranged from his Irish relatives for almost two decades, is thrust into the middle of a maelstrom. After Fergus is murdered, other Taggerts are targeted and some are killed. Liam must use his detective skills to try to find the murderer before everyone in the family is killed.
There are many suspects. The local investigator, Farrell McLaughlin, believes it’s a relative who wants the inheritance. The trust left the property to whichever heirs were still alive at the time of dispersal, but dispersal couldn’t take place until, according to the terms of the trust, the murderer was found. As more and more of the Taggerts face danger, including Liam’s wife Catherine and his son Ben, Liam must race to find the true killer. Liam believes that the killer might be someone angry with the Taggert family because of events that had occurred years before when Liam was working for the CIA in Northern Ireland. He was responsible for the capture of two IRA terrorists who were planning to set off a bomb, and he worries that a relative of those men might be the culprit.
In the meantime, Liam’s own family — his cousins and uncles — are angry that he is in charge of the trust. As they see it, he is the one who betrayed them long ago and lied to them, and now he’s in charge of the property and assets that should rightfully belong to them.
Liam also must come to terms with the betrayal that caused the estrangement from his family all those years ago, and whether his actions then contributed in any way to the current misfortunes and deaths. There is a strong message in this story about love, forgiveness, and maintaining connections with loved ones at all costs.
As in any well-done mystery, there are many suspects and many red herrings. But there also are clues that perspicacious readers will pick up on that lead to the real villain. Along the way, readers will learn a lot about “The Troubles,” as they are called, when Catholics and Protestants killed each other indiscriminately for decades. The old hatreds still fester to this day in many parts of Northern Ireland (especially in some neighborhood bars).
Those who loved Balson’s other books like “Once We Were Brothers” and “Karolina’s Twins” will love this latest entry.
Please note: This review is based on the final, hardcover book provided by St. Martin’s Press, the publisher, for review purposes.