In her first review for 2022, Marshmallow writes about The Parker Inheritance, a 2018 novel written by Varian Johnson.
Marshmallow’s Quick Take: If you like books about mysteries, and if you would like to read about racial injustices and their impact and the resilience of people of color to honor the Black History Month, then this might be the book for you.
Marshmallow’s Summary (with Spoilers): Candice Miller has just found a letter addressed to her grandmother, Abigail Caldwell, who was disgraced after she searched for a hidden treasure by digging a tennis court. Candice’s parents have just gotten a divorce and so she has moved from Atlanta (her real home, as she calls it) and is now temporarily living with her mother in Lambert, a small town in South Carolina.
We learn that Candice’s grandmother was the first African American city manager of Lambert. During her time as manager, she received a letter from a mysterious person. The letter writes that there is an inheritance of 40 million dollars, which will go to the city (one tenth goes to the person who solved the puzzle), that can be obtained if one solves the puzzles set up by the writer of the letter.
The letter explains that, a long time ago, a family named the Washingtons was driven out of town by another family, the Allens. (The Washingtons were black and the Allens were white and this was the reason why the Washingtons were driven out.) The writer of the letter was in love with one of the Washingtons, Siobhan (pronounced Shi-vaun). The writer, it seems, was a wealthy business person and destroyed the Allen family economically. He then started to economically destroy the city of Lambert, because the officials did nothing to help the Washingtons, but Siobhan begged him not to.
It turns out that Candice’s grandmother tried to solve this puzzle using the clues in the letter, but she made a mistake. She dug up one of the city’s tennis courts by forging city paperwork to pay a crew and rent a backhoe. Unfortunately, she didn’t find anything. She ended up, basically, getting fired and becoming the laughingstock of the city. (She wasn’t fired, necessarily, but she was suspended by the mayor and soon, forced to resign from her job.)
Now Candice finds this letter in her deceased grandmother’s boxes of stuff. There is a note from her grandmother that says, “Find the path. Solve the puzzle.” Candice believes that her grandmother intended for her to solve the puzzle, and get the inheritance. Candice has lots of practice with puzzles; she loves doing puzzles and puzzle books. And with the assistance of Brandon, a boy who lives across the street, she starts to solve the mystery. As she learns more, she uncovers unpleasant truths about Lambert’s past.
Marshmallow’s Review: I think that this is a very good book. I found it really interesting as it was written from multiple perspectives. I’ve read books that have multiple perspectives, but what made this interesting for me was the fact that the characters were all in different times, like one chapter is Candice, who is living today, and the other is Siobhan, who lived many years ago. This change of perspective and time helped make some of the mystery clearer and also gave more detail; that way the reader can also understand and solve the puzzle by themselves.
I think that this book is good for all ages, but it might be easier for children ages 8 and up to solve the puzzle.
Marshmallow’s Rating: 100%.