altIn the Blood: A Jefferson Tayte Genealogical Mystery by Steve Robinson (Thomas & Mercer, 2014)

This was another find from my book-loving, book-giving sister-in-law, who also shares my love of genealogy. I am now hooked, and was delighted/dismayed to discover five more books in the series waiting to suck up my reading time. I immediately ordered the next two from our library.

In the Blood is not profound reading, there's a small amount of bad language, and a little too much violence for my taste. By now you know I'm quite sensitive to such things, especially since I read nearly everything with an eye toward its appropriateness for sharing with grandchildren. But in this I find it only a minor problem, easily outweighed by the enjoyment I found in the story. Apparently a little character-appropriate bad language in a novel doesn't bother me nearly as much as the same words in a serious, non-fiction book.

Would I be so anxious to read the remaining books in the series if it weren't for the genealogical angle? It's hard to say; although you don't need to know anything about genealogy to appreciate the mystery, it certainly made it more enjoyable for me. And having recently completed a Great Courses series on Mystery and Suspense Fiction, I know that In the Blood is much more my style than most of what's out there.

Posted by sursumcorda on Friday, June 30, 2017 at 5:37 am | Edit
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You are lucky. I had to buy the book because I couldn't find a library that had it.

Posted by dstb on Friday, June 30, 2017 at 7:29 am

You should have read the book before giving it to me; I'm not above doing that with books I give. :) That's the problem with giving Kindle books—I can't pre-read them.

Our library has the next two in the series. If I like them as much as the first one, I'll suggest that they buy the others. They're pretty good about doing that if they already have some books of a series.

Posted by SursumCorda on Friday, June 30, 2017 at 7:46 am

Oh, I read it before I gave it to you. Don't worry.

Posted by dstb on Saturday, July 01, 2017 at 4:13 am

I just finished To the Grave, the second Jefferson Tayte genealogical mystery. Even though I found this mostly enjoyable and hard to put down, I still don't know if I'd continue with the series without the genealogical hook. I clearly have a love/hate relationship with the "Mystery and Suspense Fiction" genre: I love mystery, and hate suspense. It's the puzzle I enjoy, not the action scenes. But the genealogy is there, and the next book is sitting on our kitchen counter....

Posted by SursumCorda on Saturday, July 01, 2017 at 5:29 am

The third book, The Last Queen of England was the most exciting of all, though it made me wish I knew more about British history so I knew how far-fetched the mystery really was. I understand that Dan Brown's The Da Vinci Code is also exciting and engrossing—if you don't know how fast and loose he has played with the facts. The premise in this Jefferson Tayte mystery is intriguing, and makes the genealogy work all the more prominent. It seems plausible, but whether it makes any actual, historical sense is more than I know.

I figured that by the time I finished the third book I'd know whether or not I wanted to request that the library order the rest of the series. I'm going to do it. When I read, the experience almost always feels more rewarding and worthwhile than watching movies or television. This doesn't. But I can't deny it's fun.

Posted by SursumCorda on Monday, July 03, 2017 at 7:49 am

I've now read book #4, The Lost Empress. This one is especially interesting because the story was inspired by the real-life, tragic sinking of the RMS Empress of Ireland in the St. Lawrence River on May 29, 1914. It was the worst peacetime maritime disaster in Canadian history, but has been largely overshadowed by the fates of the Titanic and the Lusitania, even though the number of passenger deaths was greater than with either of those.

It's a good mystery, too.

Posted by SursumCorda on Saturday, January 20, 2018 at 9:15 am

There's only one thing that really bothers me about The Lost Empress, and it's annoying enough that I'm going to write the author and ask about it. It's this sentence: "The 1890 census shows that her husband, Henry's grandfather, was still alive and was then the head of the household, so presumably he'd died or had otherwise left by 1900." Really? How can you have a genealogy story and so casually mention finding someone in the 1890 census without noting how unusual that is, since nearly all of the 1890 census records were destroyed by fire in 1921. True, the researcher is looking in New York, for which a few of the records survive. But still, I would have thought the rarity merited at least a mention.

Posted by SursumCorda on Saturday, January 20, 2018 at 9:26 am

By the way, our library has been great and now has the whole series at my recommendation. Sometimes it pays to speak up!

Posted by SursumCorda on Saturday, January 20, 2018 at 9:31 am

Steve Robinson responded very quickly to my inquiry: "You’re quite right about the 1890 census. While some records do still exist, in particular for the State of New York, this should have had some explanation in reference to the fire that destroyed most of the records in 1921. It was picked up very soon after the book’s publication in 2014 and changed to the 1880 census to avoid the issue - the 1880 census also worked fine [for] the story."

Posted by SursumCorda on Saturday, January 20, 2018 at 12:13 pm
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