The Final Gambit by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

The basics

Title: The Final Gambit


Series: The Inheritance Games #3

- The Inheritance Games (2020)
- The Hawthorne Legacy (2021)
- The Final Gambit (2022)
- The Brothers Hawthorne (2023)

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Goodreads Summary:

To inherit billions, all Avery Kylie Grambs has to do is survive a few more weeks living in Hawthorne House. The paparazzi are dogging her every step. Financial pressures are building. Danger is a fact of life. And the only thing getting Avery through it all is the Hawthorne brothers. Her life is intertwined with theirs. She knows their secrets and they know her.

But as the clock ticks down to the moment when Avery will become the richest teenager on the planet, trouble arrives in the form of a visitor who needs her help—and whose presence in Hawthorne House could change everything. It soon becomes clear that there is one last puzzle to solve, and Avery and the Hawthorne brothers are drawn into a dangerous game against an unknown and powerful player.

Here is a spoiler summary of what happened in The Final Gambit by Jennifer Lynn Barnes to help refresh your memory before you read the sequel.

What happened in The Final Gambit?

  • Avery has been living at Hawthorne for almost one year now. She has six weeks to go before she meets the requirement set by Tobias Hawthorne, and when she does she will inherit his money and businesses.
  • The Hawthorne siblings are split up. Grayson is studying at Harvard, and Jameson is at the family villa in Tuscany searching for information on the disk.
  • Alisa recommends that Avery puts all her money in a trust fund once she inherits it.
  • Jameson returns for Avery’s birthday. They have an extravagant hot air balloon ride and a picnic together, and then finish off with a helicopter ride and a dance on the beach. Avery then returns to the manor and finds that her family and friends are throwing her a surprise party. Grayson has also returned for it.
  • Toby’s daugter Eve arrives at Hawthorne the folloing day. Avery tries to keep her away from Grayson, because Eve looks a lot like his ex Emily who died.
  • Eve reveals that Toby has been abducted. He didn’t show up at the place where they were meant to meet. Someone hit Eve over the head and searched her pockets, telling her to forget about Toby before she passed out. Avery assumes the assailant was looking for the disk.
  • Avery, Jameson, and Grayson aren’t sure whether to believe Eve’s story. They consider that she could be tricking them.
  • Avery receives a letter containing a puzzle written on a piece of paper and a gold disk. They solve the puzzle and it reads “Avenge. Revenge. Vengeance. Avenger.” so they assume it’s from whoever has Toby.
  • The team discuss the meaning behind the puzzle, and link it to the fire that Toby started on Hawthorne Island. This fire killed several people from powerful families back in the day. They decide to investigate these families.
  • Avery receives another letter, this time containing a photo of Toby who has clearly been beaten. The hidden message in this one reads “I always win in the end.”
  • Avery sees Grayson and Eve at the swimming pool together and tells Jameson she is worrying they’re becoming too close. Jameson accuses Avery of being jealous because she fancies Grayson, which is a bit unnecessary because it’s clear that Eve is sus.
  • Alisa tells Avery that someone has started a smear campaign against her, and they think it could be a previous member of Oren’s security team who is providing the information.
  • But to who?
  • Alisa gives Avery a bag containing a steamer, a towel, a torch, magnetic letters, a USB, and a bit of glass. The bag is from Tobias, and he told Alisa to deliver it to Avery if Eve ever showed up at Hawthorne.
  • Avery opens the file on the USB and is greeted by white noise. Next she tries to unscramble the letters, which seem to refer to a move in chess called The Queen’s Gambit.
  • Avery heads to the game room to check out the diamond chess set (because of course they have one of those). Avery finds a note in one of the queens which reads “Don’t breathe.”
  • Avery receives yet another package. At this point she is receiving more mail than a book reviewer. This package contains a locked box. Avery figures out the combination and finds a phone inside. The timer on the phone is counting down, and there’s also a note on the calendar app which says “niv”. There’s a contact on the phone labelled “Call Me”, so Avery does and speaks to someone called Luke. Luke says something will happen to Toby when the timer has finished.
  • Thea tells Avery that a photo of Eve at Hawthorne has gone viral, probably to distract Avery from the mission of finding Toby. Thea suggests that “niv” could mean the New International Version of the Bible.
  • Avery looks through the Bible and puts some clues together. She calls Luke again and he tells her to think about three characters: the father, the son who left, and the son who stayed.
  • Avery discusses this with the team and they work out that the father is Tobias, but Toby was his only son. They wonder whether Tobias had a secret son, or whether the message refers to one of the brother-in-laws.
  • They go to speak to Zara, who has had several husbands. She says that her first husband, Christopher, died years ago in an accident.
  • The group wonder if Tobias had siblings, and therefore could be one of the sons. they ask Nan, who confirms that Tobias didn’t have any siblings. She does tell them that Tobias did awful stuff to start his businesses and make money.
  • The team read through Oren’s list of sus people. They find a lot of information on Tobias and people he messed with. Avery notices Eve taking photos of one of the files – the one about Grayson’s father, Sheffield.
  • Following up on other clues from the bag, Avery heads to the pool. She uses the glass to discover a mosaic on the bottom of the pool, which is actually a chessboard design. Avery uses the Queen’s Gambit move and finds a loose tile, which has another package underneath.
  • In the package, there is a photo of three women standing in front of a church. The back says the photo was taken in Margeaux, France in 1973.
  • The team go down to the wine cellar and they find a bottle of wine from Margeaux, 1973. Thankfully he knows his wine. They use the steam and lift the label, finding a drawing of a crystal. They realise this is the same as the crystals in one of the chandeliers in the house. They head there and find a message telling them not to trust anyone. Avery thinks this could be in relation to Eve.
  • Eve goes to see Mallory and asks her about Toby’s father, Liam. Mallory says Liam was much older than her and they were secretly hooking up. When Mallory told him she was pregnant with Toby, Liam left.
  • Avery gets another envelope which is closed with a seal that matches the design on the disk. This new message says “363-1982”.
  • Thea receives a call from Luke and tells her there are tracking devices on the phone. Luke tells Avery to look up, and Avery finds patent certificates on the walls. The numbers in the envelope correspond with a patent for oil drilling equipment, and the two names on it read Tobias Hawthorne and Vincent Blake.
  • The team figure out that Blake was Tobias’ boss at one point, and it seems that Tobias filed a patent using their ideas and made all the money.
  • Eve goes off to find Blake. Grayson tries to follow but Avery asks him not to.
  • Jameson locks Avery in a room and goes off with Grayson and Eve. They return shortly after as they were unable to get into Blake’s compound.
  • Xander learns that his father, Isaiah, worked for Blake at one point, and now owns a mechanic shop. The team go to ask him questions about Blake and Tobias.
  • Isaiah says he wanted to fight for custody of Xander but didn’t have the money at the time. He stopped working for Blake when he realised a lot of people around him seemed to die. Isaiah is able to identify the disk as Blake’s “calling card”, giving whoever has it the ability to utilise Blake’s fortune.
  • The disk represents one fifth of the estate, and was stolen from Tobias by Toby.
  • Isaiah reveals that Blake had a son called William who disappeared. Avery thinks this is Liam, Toby’s father, making Blake Toby’s grandfather. They wonder if Eve is working with Blake, and also whether Liam was murdered by one of the Hawthornes.
  • Avery calls Blake and says she knows who he is. He demands to know what happened to Liam. He wants Liam’s remains.
  • The team follow clues in Toby’s poem to the Hawthorne chapel. Avery finds an inscription on the altar, leading her to a puzzle which reveals an empty space behind the alter. In the space, they find a USB drive and a message written by Toby which says “I know what you did, father.”
  • Eve then loses it and points a gun at Avery. She reveals she has been helping Blake all along because she wants to disk. Oren is able to disarm Eve and he tells her to leave.
  • The second USB stick is used to decode the audio on the first. It’s a recording of Tobias, in which he talks about Liam Blake’s murder and Blake’s revenge. He reveals that he chose Avery as the heir because he knew she would become a target, and he didn’t want to put his own family at risk. Tobias thought Avery could out manoeuvre her opponents.
  • Avery calls Vincent again and asks what she can have in return for Liam’s remains.
  • Avery receives a package containing pieces of plastic, which she assembles to show a photo of an unconscious Alisa.
  • Avery and Jameson go to the maze and discover a secret room. They ask Mr Laughlin for help as he knows the grounds well. Laughlin admits that Liam didn’t take the news of Mallory’s pregnancy well and they fought. Mallory stole the disk from Tobias and offered it to Liam if he stayed with her. It then disappeared from her bag.
  • It turns out that Tobias knew what Mallory was up to. Mr Laughlin was also watching the fight go down, and Mallory hit Liam with a brick to defend herself against him. Tobias told Mr Laughlin to take Mallory, and Tobias buried Liam’s body.
  • Rebecca Laughlin takes Avery and Jameson to Liam’s remains, which are buried on the grounds.
  • Alisa calls and says Blake let her go because Grayson turned himself in.
  • Avery calls the police, finally. She tells them about the remains. She then calls her publicist and she’ll provide an exclusive on Liam Blake’s murder. She says that Tobias did it so Mallory doesn’t get in trouble.
  • Avery heads to Blake’s compound. The paparazzi are there and Avery gives a statement. The guards let Avery in and she walks in to find Blake, Eve, Grayson, and Toby waiting there.
  • Blake threatens Avery with information on Sheffield Grayson’s murder, which was carried out by Eve’s sister and covered up by Oren.
  • Avery doesn’t want Oren to get in trouble. She offers Blake a game of chess. Blake counters and says Avery, Eve, and Toby should play a three-way tournament. Toby has to win his matches in order to leave, otherwise he must stay and become Toby Blake. Eve has to win in order to get the disk. If Avery wins, Grayson will be released and Blake will forget about Sheffield Grayson’s murder.
  • Toby lets Eve win their first game together. Avery beats Toby. Avery lets Eve win too.
  • Avery once again offers to play against Blake, and if he wins she will make him the official trustee of the Hawthorne fortune. Avery wins, of course.
  • Toby escorts Avery and the others out, and he gives Avery a box with a message saying nice things about her and her mother.
  • The Hawthornes host a party to celebrate Avery’s anniversary and the inheritance of the fortune. Avery transfers 94% of it to a trust which will disperse it to charity. She creates a foundation too.
  • One year on, Avery announces an annual competition for people to win a life-changing amount of money.

That’s what happened in The Final Gambit by Jennifer Lynn Barnes. Check out our recap list for more recaps. If you can’t find what you need, you can request a recap from us!

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