Documenting my family's past for future generations. My family tree includes the Smith/Mansell families of Alabama and Oklahoma, the Castle/Day families of Kentucky and Oklahoma, the Wheat/Ming families of Texas and Oklahoma, and the Bell/Roberts families of Mississippi, Tennessee, and Oklahoma.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

A Fictional Genealogical Mystery

My other hobby, besides genealogy, is reading mysteries.  I think there might be a connection there.  Anyway—I always thought it would be so great to create a mystery series in which the detective is a genealogist.  I’ve run a few stories through my head, but I don’t think I have the plotting skills of a mystery writer—or even the searching skills of a professional genealogist.

So I was very glad to see that someone else had had the same idea.  I just finished In the Blood: A Genealogical Crime Mystery by Steve Robinson.  It is the first book in a series about professional genealogist, Jefferson Tayte, who gets a little more than he bargained for when he is hired by an American to trace a branch of his family who returned to live in Cornwall after the defeat of the British in the American Revolution.

JT, as he is called, can’t find any trace of the family of James Fairborne after he arrives in Cornwall in 1783.  What he does find is a second family—and lots of questions.  Someone else doesn’t want him to find the answers.  With his trusty laptop and visits to records offices and churchyard cemeteries, JT pursues the mystery and receives death threats and attempts on his life.  He finds that a number of people have been murdered over the years in order to keep the secret.

Compared to other mysteries I have read, it fares pretty well.  The genealogical mystery provides the suspense.  Will JT figure it out before someone else dies?  Although the ultimate mystery—why James Fairborne’s first family disappeared—is solved by a document that has survived, hidden, over 200 years, don’t we all wish we could find something like that?

There are two more books in the series: To the Grave, in which the genealogical mystery begins in World War II, and The Last Queen of England, in which the mystery involves the royal family.  The Kindle editions of book #1 and #2 sell for $3.99; In the Blood is on sale today for $.99!

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