On September 11, 2001, many people “knew someone”: someone who was in the Towers, someone who disappeared that morning. Ingrid was a someone—or was she?
In Kirsten Tranter’s debut novel, The Legacy, Ingrid moved away from Australia and her friends, Julia and Ralph, to live in New York with her wealthy art-collector husband. She was a promising young student, studying ancient curse scrolls at Columbia University, but on 9/11, she vanished like dust. It becomes Julia’s job to find out the truth about Ingrid’s death, and Julia discovers much more than she bargained for as she unveils lies and secrets that could capsize the lives of those in Ingrid’s former New York life.
Though Ingrid’s disappearance is at the heart of this story, the narrative of heroine Julia steals the show. The mystery flickers between tumultuous internal and external conflict as Julia struggles with her own grief while trying to play detective. The novel seamlessly mixes intrigue with the nearly unanswerable questions of a personal narrative. Throughout The Legacy, Julia’s transformation is subtle and poetic, and Ingrid’s death becomes more than just a mystery, a conductor to Julia’s own powerful personal evolution.
Tranter’s The Legacy is no ordinary mystery novel. It is a modern retelling of Henry James’ A Portrait of a Lady, and it contains a unique intellectual weight through literary and art allusions so as to bear a sense of multi-faceted accessibility. Tranter has the ability to mesh seemingly unrelated information to create a sense of intelligence, from Ovid to graphology to Howard Hawks. The story, while surprising and clever in its allusions, also roots itself in core themes such as friendship, grief and unrequited love.
The Legacy has the ability to span continents and oceans through its flawed and hopeful characters, and it even dips a toe into the spiritual and magical. Tranter’s novel has already won the hearts of Australian readers, and American readers will certainly find The Legacy to be a sophisticated, provocative treat.