Genealogical Mysteries

I often review serious history and genealogy books on my blog but this is a little bit different. Did you know there’s a whole fiction genre that involves genealogy? This post features 3 different writers & I’ve read most of their books.

The pattern with most of these books is a two-stranded narrative. One part is in the present following the genealogist as they research a project for a client, with side plots on their own lives. They will often feature real records and step by step guides as the protagonist works referencing real websites and sometimes even real-life genealogists. The second strand is in the past following the story of the case being researched in narrative form.

I started out with Steve Robinson‘s series featuring American genealogist Jefferson Tayte. The first book, In the Blood, was published in 2014. He has a thing for chocolate and is a big Anglophile. Jefferson also has unknown family history which he gets to work on as he researches. Some of these stories are a little far-fetched. I’ve yet to be shot at in the course of my genealogical work, but it’s happened a couple of times to poor Jefferson. There’s 7 books in the series to enjoy. I’m not sure Steve is writing any more though.

Writing as MJ Lee, Martin Lee’s detective is Jayne Sinclair, a former policewoman from Manchester. She also has a penchant for chocolate. Jayne works too hard and also has a complicated back story. Are you sensing a trend? Jayne’s work takes her to various British colonies through history over the course of 10 books. Two have featured Irish story-lines including the most recent Australia-set book. The first book in the series is The Irish Inheritance.

Nathan Dylan Goodwin is probably the most well-known in the genre, not least because he’s a great man for the social media & also gives regular lectures. He’s got the Morton Farrier series – a straightforward genealogist with a complicated life. I can’t remember if he likes chocolate! There’s 10 books in this series plus some short stories. The first is Hiding the Past. Nathan’s also the author of the Venator genetic genealogy series (2 so far and another in the works). I’ve reviewed those before here and here.

There are other people writing these types of books but I haven’t branched into them so far. Admittedly, reading about genealogy is a bit of a busman’s holiday for me, but it shows how much I live and breathe my job/passion. If you’ve read other ones, I’d love to hear your recommendations.

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