When billionaire Paul Parnell died, his children expected the usual division of assets. To their shock and displeasure, Parnell worked with his lawyers to set up a test for his six children to help them develop a code of values rather than just taking the money and squandering their riches. His code of values included God, family, community, and profession.
With the test administered by the executor of the estate, and few instructions as to what type of test they were to face, the squabbling siblings set out to see who would pass the test and inherit what each believed was his or her share of the estate. If they failed, their share was to go to the Parnell Foundation.
The story is set in 2001 with the bombing of the World Trade Center as a backdrop. The story moves swiftly, and thankfully does not get bogged down in unnecessary conversations and detail. Although there is not a great depth to any one character, the author provides enough information about each so that the reader can see their motives and true nature.
Part psychological thriller and part difficult family relationship story, The Test reveals how one family can change in just a year when the stakes are set high enough, and what devastation can take place when greed and distrust are allowed to control ones' life. Although more of a family soap opera than mystery, there are times during the story that readers will notice elements of suspense.
Author Patricia Gussin has written an excellent portrayal of greed and family discord. Each of the six siblings has lives of their own: one is a United States Senator serving Pennsylvania and who has higher ambitions and an equally ambitious and supportive wife. They are looking toward the inheritance to help fund his next political move.
Another son is a Florida palm tree farmer who walked away from the family years ago and could care less about the money. The women include a mother of eight, a superstar entertainer, a medical student, and a design school dropout.
The author provided a family tree page at the beginning that the reader will probably find of great help, especially early in the novel. Probably of most interest are the ways various family members change during the course of the year. The Test proves to be one of those novels that are truly difficult to set down. Once into the story line, the plot and pace keep the reader engaged.
Special thanks go to Oceanview Publishing for providing a copy of The Test to me for free. If you are interested in purchasing this book, you can find it by following this link to Amazon.com.