Getting the largest piece of a wealthy man’s inheritance may drive his children to undertake a few bad deeds, including murder, in the English-language version of Douglas’ debut thriller.
When billionaire Robert Stanley is run down in an automobile accident in Corsica, his three grown children feel they deserve a sizable chunk of his estate. After all, their relationships with their father have been strained for years after his affair with their governess, Rosa, led to their mother’s suicide. And they need the money: Judge Thomas Stanley, the oldest brother, is enamored with Connie, who has expensive tastes; fashion designer Carmen is paying off a blackmailer; and polo player Billy has a heroin addiction. But everything changes with the appearance of Jennifer Stanley, Robert’s illegitimate daughter with Rosa. Someone wants controlling interest in Stanley Enterprises—not to mention even more money—and is willing to do whatever it takes to get it, even murder. Douglas does an outstanding job establishing the story’s characters. Robert, for example, is undoubtedly the villain, callously sending his kids to separate schools when it was clear that they blamed him for their mother’s death. But the children are well-developed, particularly Thomas and Carmen, whose self-made careers are the result of showing Robert that they could make something of themselves. The novel is shrouded in mystery and brimming with plot twists: there’s the strange family man who watches his son’s baseball game before breaking into the office of Robert’s attorney and the children exhuming Robert’s body (for a DNA test to prove that Jennifer is related) and finding an empty coffin. Likewise, the story is bolstered by a bit of dark humor, like the French police captain who stalls releasing Robert’s body to lawyer George so he can soak up the press’ attention for as long as possible. The translation to English from Spanish unfortunately hits some stumbles, with an abundance of typos and odd phrasings, including an explanation of the title: “[Robert] looks at one of the crew member almost angry and this change his mood. He obviously has a very bad mood.”
Sturdy characters and an endless batch of surprises make the glaring translation problems relatively easy to overlook.