Posted in Book Review, Books I have read, Five Star Reads

Dying Games – Steve Robinson

Crime Fiction

The genealogical expert Jefferson Tayte is back! I love this series which has taken me back to historical eras I know little about while telling a cracking story in the bargain. In this latest episode the majority of the action happens in the present day but the seeds of this action belong firmly in the past. In Washington, DC the FBI are interested in Jefferson Tayte, aka JT, so he breaks off his Scottish trip with his fiancée to return to answer their questions.

It seems that there is a serial killer on the loose, a serial killer who isn’t content with straightforward killing. Oh no, this killer comes up with inventive, and tortuous ways to dispatch his victims. JT examines the latest scene where twin brothers have been drowned in a Perspex box filled with water, an elaborate murder which indicates that this killing is as much about capturing attention as anything else. For JT finding out his former research is somehow linked to the killings is more than a little disquieting. And then comes a clue, genealogical in nature, which the FBI can’t solve without his help.

The race against time as JT uses all his skills, and his files provide the reader with facts as well as almost non-stop action with the pace relentless throughout this episode. The killer wants JT involved in the chase, but why? As the authorities have to release warnings to everyone who has employed JT’s family history services in the past, his reputation is in tatters. Living in a safe house with only a FBI agent for company it is easy to sympathise, JT is forced to try to save the chosen victims while his professional and personal life is shredded by his association to the horrendous crimes being committed.

This was absolutely brilliant, Steve Robinson has produced a real puzzle within this thriller! Or perhaps I should say lots of mini puzzles which require different aspects of genealogical research to solve. This will ensure that those readers who have hit a brick wall in their own family history research can put things into perspective; unless you are in the unlikely position of having to find a particular person’s details otherwise someone else may die!

Steve Robinson hasn’t forgotten the overall story arc which began with JT searching for his own origins following his adoption and so not only does Jean, his fiancée, play a role in Deadly Games, but another superb character that JT made contact with in Kindred also makes a substantial appearance at just the right time!

JT himself has grown and developed depth as a character throughout the series with his emotional development handled with a light but sure touch keeping the reader’s attention without being overwhelmed by navel-gazing.
I really can’t recommend this book highly enough, whilst you will be missing out if you haven’t read the previous books in the series, this will also work as a standalone novel for lovers of puzzles, mysteries and a rollercoaster of a ride.

I’d like to say a huge thank you to Steve Robinson who provided me with an ARC for this, the sixth book in the JT series, this unbiased review is my thanks to him and Thomas Mercer. Dying Games has decisively knocked To The Grave as my favourite read in this series from the top spot!

First Published UK: 4 May 2017
Publisher: Thomas Mercer
No of Pages: 320
Genre: Crime Fiction – Genealogical
Amazon UK
Amazon US

Previous Books in the JT series

In The Blood
Two hundred years ago a loyalist family fled to England to escape the American War of Independence and seemingly vanished into thin air. American genealogist Jefferson Tayte is hired to find out what happened, but it soon becomes apparent that a calculated killer is out to stop him.
In the Blood combines a centuries-old mystery with a present-day thriller that brings two people from opposite sides of the Atlantic together to uncover a series of carefully hidden crimes. Tayte’s research centres around the tragic life of a young Cornish girl, a writing box, and the discovery of a dark secret that he believes will lead him to the family he is looking for. Trouble is, someone else is looking for the same answers and will stop at nothing to find them.

To The Grave
A curiously dated child’s suitcase arrives, unannounced and unexplained, in a modern-day Washington suburb. A week later, American genealogist Jefferson Tayte is sitting in an English hotel room, staring at the wrong end of a loaded gun.
In his latest journey into the past, Tayte lands in wartime Leicestershire, England. The genealogist had hoped simply to reunite his client with the birth mother she had never met, having no idea she had been adopted. Instead, he uncovers the tale of a young girl and an American serviceman from the US 82nd Airborne, and a stolen wartime love affair that went tragically wrong.

The Last Queen of England
While on a visit to London, American genealogist Jefferson Tayte’s old friend and colleague dies in his arms. Before long, Tayte and a truth-seeking historian, Professor Jean Summer, find themselves following a corpse-ridden trail that takes them to the Royal Society of London, circa 1708.
What to make of the story of five men of science, colleagues of Isaac Newton and Christopher Wren, who were mysteriously hanged for high treason?
As they edge closer to the truth, Tayte and the professor find that death is once again in season. A new killer, bent on restoring what he sees as the true, royal bloodline, is on the loose…as is a Machiavellian heir-hunter who senses that the latest round of murder, kidnapping, and scandal represents an unmissable business opportunity.

The Lost Empress

On a foggy night in 1914, the ocean liner Empress of Ireland sank en route between Canada and England. The disaster saw a loss of life comparable to the Titanic and the Lusitania, and yet her tragedy has been forgotten.
When genealogist Jefferson Tayte is shown a locket belonging to one of the Empress’s victims, a British admiral’s daughter named Alice Stilwell, he must travel to England to understand the course of events that led to her death.
Tayte is expert in tracking killers across centuries. In The Lost Empress, his unique talents draw him to one of the greatest tragedies in maritime history as he unravels the truth behind Alice’s death amidst a backdrop of pre-WWI espionage.


Jefferson Tayte is good at finding people who don’t want to be found. For years he has followed faint genealogical trails to reunite families—and uncover long-hidden secrets. But Tayte is a loner, a man with no ties of his own; his true identity is the most elusive case of his career.

But that could all be about to change. Now Tayte has in his possession the beginnings of a new trail—clues his late mentor had started to gather—that might at last lead to his own family. With Professor Jean Summer, his partner in genealogical sleuthing, he travels to Munich to pick up the scent. But the hunt takes them deep into dangerous territory: the sinister secrets of World War II Germany, and those who must keep them buried at any cost.


Posted in Weekly Posts

Friday Finds (September 27)

Hosted by Miz B of Should Be Reading
FRIDAY FINDS showcases the books you ‘found’ and added to your To Be Read (TBR) list… whether you found them online, or in a bookstore, or in the library — wherever! (they aren’t necessarily books you purchased).

First up this week is Silent Witnesses: A History of Forensic Science by Nigel McCrery  You can read a great review of this book from Fiction Fan



A crime scene. A murder. A mystery.
The most important person on the scene? The forensic scientist. And yet the intricate details of their work remains a mystery to most of us.
Silent Witnesses looks at the history of forensic science over the last two centuries, during which time a combination of remarkable intuition, painstaking observation and leaps in scientific knowledge have developed this fascinating branch of detection. Throwing open the casebook, it introduces us to such luminaries as ‘The Wizard of Berkeley’ Edward Heinrich, who is credited with having solved over 2000 crimes, and Alphonse Bertillon, the French scientist whose guiding principle ‘no two individuals share the same characteristics’ became the core of identification. Along the way, it takes us to India and Australia, Columbia and China, Russia, France, Germany, Spain and Italy. And it proves that, in order to solve ever more complicated cases, science must always stay one step ahead of the killer. Amazon

My love of crime novels stems back to the True Crime magazines I read as  a teenager.  Even buying these magazines was quite a feat as I am vertically challenged and these were on the top shelf next to the girly mags.   At school I obviously scrutinised every page of Just Seventeen and Smash Hits with the other (more normal girls)  but I loved scaring myself in stupid in secret.

magazine coversTherefore despite vowing no more books I now have a need to own Silent Witness and this will be a hardback purchase as my peculiar rules mean non-fiction needs to be bought in physical format only!

Another must-have book that made it to the list this week is The Marriage Certificate by Stephen Molyneux
The Marriage Certificate

The Marriage Certificate … the issue is a mystery.
What prompts amateur family historian Peter Sefton to buy the marriage certificate he sees on display in an antiques arcade? Is it because he thinks it should be private and he wants to remove it from public view? Is it the prospect of researching the individuals named upon it? Or is it something else, happenstance perhaps, which leads him towards a potentially lucrative discovery and a long forgotten family secret?
When John and Louisa marry in January 1900, who could foretell how their lives and those of ambitious Rose, the bridesmaid, and confident Frank, the best man, would be changed that day?
Follow their story, through Peter’s research and find out how, with investigative skill and a certain amount of luck, Peter finds himself pulled along to uncover a series of sad and tragic events … events, which connect the marriage certificate to a modern day mystery. But … there’s a complication. In his quest to complete the family tree he learns that he has competition. It’s not just a matter of pride; there’s money at stake too. Should he the amateur give up, or can he really beat the professionals at their own game?

Since my favourite genealogy mystery writer Steve Robinson has delayed his fourth book this may just fill the gap. Set in my favourite time period with a mystery to solve, I can already picture myself reading this one in front of the fire.

This page could go on forever so I am going to resist showing you the other genealogy mystery books I found when locating the blurb for this one…. let’s just say at least one more book has snuck its way on to that TBR.  If you would like to read some of my thoughts on this unusual genre please see my Monday Musing from September 9

Lastly I really want to read Cartwheel by Jennifer duBois I have read a number of reviews for this book but quite like this one by Never Enough to Read.  This book was published 24 September 2013 but it doesn’t appear to have been released for kindle yet.


Written with the riveting storytelling of authors like Emma Donoghue, Adam
Johnson, Ann Patchett, and Curtis Sittenfeld, Cartwheel is a suspenseful
and haunting novel of an American foreign exchange student arrested for murder,
and a father trying to hold his family together.

When Lily Hayes arrives in Buenos Aires for her semester abroad, she is enchanted by
everything she encounters: the colorful buildings, the street food, the
handsome, elusive man next door. Her studious roommate Katy is a bit of a bore,
but Lily didn’t come to Argentina to hang out with other Americans.

Five weeks later, Katy is found brutally murdered in their shared home, and Lily is
the prime suspect. But who is Lily Hayes? It depends on who’s asking. As the
case takes shape—revealing deceptions, secrets, and suspicious DNA—Lily appears
alternately sinister and guileless through the eyes of those around her: the
media, her family, the man who loves her and the man who seeks her conviction.
With mordant wit and keen emotional insight, Cartwheel offers a prismatic
investigation of the ways we decide what to see—and to believe—in one another
and ourselves.

In Cartwheel, duBois delivers a novel of
propulsive psychological suspense and rare moral nuance. No two readers will
agree who Lily is and what happened to her roommate. Cartwheel will keep
you guessing until the final page, and its questions about how well we really
know ourselves will linger well beyond.

I am being fairly consistent this week as this book is clearly based on the murder of  Meredith Kercher  and her room mate Amanda Knox so true crime disguised as fiction.