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

Letters from the Dead – Steve Robinson

Crime Fiction
5*s

For the seventh outing of Jefferson Tayte, a genealogist now based in the UK with his wife Jean, JT as he is more fondly known, is asked to discover the four-times-Great-Grandfather of his client, Damian Sinclair. His trail takes him from a crumbling, literally, pile in the Southern Highlands of Scotland, Drumarthen, to Rajputana (now known as Rajasthan) with strong links to the East India Company.

If you have followed JT’s previous adventures you will have learnt that genealogy can be a dangerous business, something JT himself seems to forget with a sense of abandon as soon as any juicy mystery comes along.

Damian Sinclair is unlike most of JT’s clients, he and the wider family have done a massive amount of research into their family. It’s soon revealed that this isn’t out of simple curiosity about their family heritage but because wrapped into the history is a missing ruby, one that would significantly change the owner’s life and there is no better motivation than a treasure hunt to help fill in those gaps on the family tree. Damian Sinclair assures JT he is not interested in the ruby and even though the reader can hear the audience hissing, JT puts his scepticism about the truth of this statement aside, and agrees to work on the case.

JT is introduced to the wider family and it is revealed that packet of letters were found that might hold the link to the jewel written in 1820s from a travelling companion in India back to the woman’s brother. These seem to be missing, all apart from one. Do these letters hold the key to the mystery?
The characters are brilliantly portrayed, Steve Robinson has ensured you will be able to tell them all apart by making them distinct, if in the main, individuals that you don’t need to waste a whole heap of sympathy on. After all you don’t want feelings of sorrow for these fictional characters to slow the trail to finding the truth, do you?

While JT is seeking the truth from the past, there are disturbing events in the present with an ‘Golden Age’ type mystery involving a syndicate formed to find the ruby. We therefore have Detective Inspector Alastair Ross being kept busy with the odd dead body too.

As with the previous books in the series, not only are the stories incredibly informative showing the impeccable research carried out by the author, they also have a sense of fun too. The story as it unfolds by letter from life in Colonial India completely transported me to a very particular way of life. The historical part alone was a fabulous story while with the danger in the present and a mystery which seems to hinge on greed provides a puzzle which seems to confound the finest of minds. Steve Robinson created a thoroughly interesting, informative and entertaining read in Letters from the Dead.

I’d like to thank  and the author Steve Robinson and the publishers Thomas & Mercer for allowing me to read an advance review copy of Letters from the Dead which was published on 14 August 2018. Perfect for lovers of genealogy as the author manages to weave some actual resources into the book without overshadowing either the historical angle or the mystery playing out in the present it also caters for a wide range of interests from history to those who crave a damn good mystery!

First Published UK: 14 August 2018
Publisher: Thomas Mercer
No of Pages: 348
Genre: Crime Fiction – Genealogical
Amazon UK
Amazon US

If you haven’t read the previous books in this series, not to worry, each of the books stands alone with only a very fleeting mention of anything in JT’s private life that has gone before.

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.

Kindred

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.

Dying Games

Washington, DC: Twin brothers are found drowned in a Perspex box, one gagged and strapped to a chair. It’s the latest in a series of cruel and elaborate murders with two things in common: the killer has left a family history chart at each crime scene, and the victims all have a connection to genealogical sleuth Jefferson Tayte.

Hoping his insight and expertise will help solve the case, the FBI summon Tayte back to the capital. But as he struggles to crack the clues, the killer strikes again—and again. Tayte is known as the best in the business, but this time he’s up against a genealogical mastermind who always seems to be one step ahead.

With the clock ticking and the body count rising, Tayte finds himself racked with guilt, his reputation and career in tatters. The killer is running rings around him; is it only a matter of time before he comes for the ultimate target?

 

Posted in Weekly Posts

This Week in Books (August 8)

This Week In Books
Hosted by Lipsy Lost & Found my Wednesday post gives you a taste of what I am reading this week. A similar meme is run by Taking on a World of Words

I am currently reading Letters from the Dead by Steve Robinson, a genealogical mystery set in Scotland and India. Letters from the Dead will be published on 14 August 2018.

Blurb

When genealogist Jefferson Tayte is hired to prove the identity of a black sheep in his client’s family tree, he unwillingly finds himself drawn into a murder investigation with nothing more to go on than a 150-year-old letter and a connection to a legendary ruby that has been missing for generations.

As more letters are mysteriously left for him, Tayte becomes immersed in a centuries-old tale of greed, murder and forbidden love that takes his research from the wilds of the Scottish Highlands to the colour and heat of colonial India.

A dark secret is buried in Jaipur, steeped in treachery and scandal. But why is it having such deadly repercussions in the present? Can Tayte find the ruby and prevent the past from repeating itself before it’s too late?

This is the seventh book in the Jefferson Tayte Genealogical Mystery series but it can be enjoyed as a stand-alone story. Amazon

The last book I finished was very different; A Long Goodbye by Anthony Le Moignan is set in the present day and is set in a care home in Cambridge. The main protagonist has been diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s. This might make it sound a bit of a gloomy read but I was pleasantly surprised. Anthony Le Moignan is a local Jersey man and I happen to know that this book is on NetGalley for request.

Blurb

Simon, a successful accountant, has a big problem. The biggest of them all. He checks himself into Orchard Care Home whilst still relatively healthy, the youngest resident by decades. He’s confident he cut all ties with the outside world and is untraceable.

Emma, married with no kids, lives, breathes and manages Orchard Care Home; a position her husband, Michael, used to hold in the good old days. But now he’s soared up the company hierarchy she sees so much less of him.

The attraction between carer and resident is instant, but ultimately destined for catastrophe. Alzheimer’s takes no prisoners and Early Onset, it’s most tragic form, is the cruellest of all.

How can Michael feel threatened by Simon? And what future could Emma have with him?

Simon understands less and less, but knows he has to try and run away from time – to somehow beat the ceaseless clock.

A powerful new novel by Anthony Le Moignan that will make you laugh and cry, for fans of Jojo Moyes, Emma Healey and Nicholas Sparks. Amazon

The next book I expect to read is Lady Bette and the Murder of Mr Thynn by Nigel Pickford as I desperately try to reach at least 15 books for my 20 Books of Summer challenge!

Blurb

Lady Bette, the 14-year-old heiress to the vast Northumberland estates, becomes the victim of a plot by her grandmother, the Countess Howard, to marry her to the dissolute fortune-hunter Thomas Thynn, a man three times her age with an evil reputation. Revolted by her new husband, Lady Bette flees to Holland. Within weeks, Thynn is gunned down in the street by three hired assassins.

Who is behind the contract killing? Is it the Swedish Count Coningsmark, young and glamorous with blond hair down to his waist? Or is it a political assassination as the anti-Catholic press maintains? Thynn was, after all, a key player in the Protestant faction to exclude the Catholic James, Duke of York, as his brother Charles II’s successor.

Nigel Pickford creates a world of tension and insecurity, of constant plotting and counter-plotting and of rabid anti-Catholicism, where massive street demonstrations and public Papal burnings are weekly events. The action moves from the great landed estates of Syon and Petworth to the cheap taverns and brothels of London, and finally to Newgate and the gallows – the sporting spectacle of the day. In the process, the book gives us a vivid and deeply researched portrait of Restoration society. Amazon

So what do you think? Any of these beauties take your fancy?

Posted in Weekly Posts

First Chapter ~ First Paragraph (July 31)

Welcome to another Tuesday celebrating bookish events, from Tuesday/First Chapter/Intros, hosted by Vicky from I’d Rather Be At The Beach who posts the opening paragraph (sometime two) of a book she decided to read based on the opening. Feel free to grab the banner and play along.

This week I’m sharing the opening paragraph of Letters from the Dead by Steve Robinson, the seventh in series featuring genealogist Jefferson Tayte. Letters from the Dead will be published on 14 August 2018.

Blurb

When genealogist Jefferson Tayte is hired to prove the identity of a black sheep in his client’s family tree, he unwillingly finds himself drawn into a murder investigation with nothing more to go on than a 150-year-old letter and a connection to a legendary ruby that has been missing for generations.

As more letters are mysteriously left for him, Tayte becomes immersed in a centuries-old tale of greed, murder and forbidden love that takes his research from the wilds of the Scottish Highlands to the colour and heat of colonial India.

A dark secret is buried in Jaipur, steeped in treachery and scandal. But why is it having such deadly repercussions in the present? Can Tayte find the ruby and prevent the past from repeating itself before it’s too late?

This is the seventh book in the Jefferson Tayte Genealogical Mystery series but it can be enjoyed as a stand-alone story. Amazon

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

First Chapter ~ First Paragraph ~ Intro

Prologue

October 1869

Dear Robert,

Further to my recent correspondence, I write to you with great anticipation and excitement over your interest in the aforementioned matter. I have in my possession several letters written by my great-aunt Jane concerning her travels in India. By themselves they mean little. Taken as a whole, however I believe they represent an extraordinary tale that could prove priceless.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

I love old letters and the connection between the Scottish Highlands and India has my interest piqued to the highest of levels.

What do you think? Would you keep reading?

Posted in Weekly Posts

Weekly Wrap Up (July 8)

Well what a week! I celebrated yet another birthday on Monday, they are now coming round all too fast, with a lovely meal but suffice to say workwise this has been a difficult week that has left me chasing my tail, so I apologise for the lack of response to so many comments, but hopefully next week will be better.

The sunflowers are really going for it now with a new flower opening daily, particularly loving the red variety to mix things up!

This Week on the Blog

Well despite my reading time being minimal this week I do still have a stack of books to review but as it was July the first post of the week was my Five of the Best June 2014 to 2018.

My first review was for the first miss for The Classics Club, I didn’t really enjoy Off With His Head by Ngaio Marsh.

This Week in Books featured the authors Gillian McAllister, Cara Hunter and Anna Mazzola.

My review of Sanctum by Denise Mina was well-received and well-timed as although this book was first published in 2002 it was published as an eBook on the day I reviewed it. This was my second review for my 20 Books of Summer 2018 challenge. Yes, lagging a wee bit here!

Next I reviewed a non-fiction Victorian true crime, The Killing of Georgie Moore by Colin Evans, one of my own books knocking another one of the Mount TBR Challenge.

Finishing the week off was my review for a newly published psychological thriller Take Me In by Sabine Durrant, an author I admire for creating tension without pushing the boundaries of reality too far to do so.

This Time Last Year…

I was reading the psychological thriller They All Fall Down by Tammy Cohen, an author who always provides satisfying reads.

The setting of this novel is in a private psychiatric clinic and right from the off there is a feeling that Hannah isn’t there of her own volition, but quite why and what happened before is left in the shadows. This isn’t the only mystery though, two women have died at the small clinic and Hannah is worried that they weren’t the suicides that everyone presumes. The problem is Hannah clearly has problems and she’s not being taken seriously by anyone, least of all her husband Danny who is becoming increasingly frustrated with what he thinks is her continued paranoia.

With twists and turns enhanced by the fabulous pace the dialogue which is also absolutely pitch perfect.

You can read my full review here or click on the book cover.

Blurb

Hannah had a normal life – a loving husband, a good job. Until she did something shocking.

Now she’s in a psychiatric clinic. It should be a safe place. But patients keep dying.

The doctors say it’s suicide. Hannah knows they’re lying.

Can she make anyone believe her before the killer strikes again? Amazon

Stacking the Shelves

I was delighted to receive an email from Steve Robinson, the creator of the genealogist Jefferson Tayte providing me with a copy of the seventh in this wonderful series Letters from the Dead which will be published on 14 August 2018.

Blurb

When genealogist Jefferson Tayte is hired to prove the identity of a black sheep in his client’s family tree, he unwillingly finds himself drawn into a murder investigation with nothing more to go on than a 150-year-old letter and a connection to a legendary ruby that has been missing for generations.
As more letters are mysteriously left for him, Tayte becomes immersed in a centuries-old tale of greed, murder and forbidden love that takes his research from the wilds of the Scottish Highlands to the colour and heat of colonial India.

A dark secret is buried in Jaipur, steeped in treachery and scandal. But why is it having such deadly repercussions in the present? Can Tayte find the ruby and prevent the past from repeating itself before it’s too late?

This is the seventh book in the Jefferson Tayte Genealogical Mystery series but it can be enjoyed as a stand-alone story. NetGalley

As I mentioned it was my birthday and amongst my pile of lovely gifts my daughter gave me a copy of The Truth by Peter James. Although I’ve read all of the Roy Grace series, I haven’t read many of his stand-alone books and I’m looking forward to reading this one.

Blurb

Susan and John Carter are crazy about each other and life is perfect but for one thing – they are on the brink of financial disaster. Surely being a surrogate mother to another man’s child won’t harm such a strong relationship? Especially when the mysterious Mr Sarotzini is offering to save their home and business – everything they’ve worked for.

What seems to be a perfect solution begins to feel like an impossible situation. Susan’s pregnancy is disturbingly painful but no-one will tell her why. It becomes apparent that Sarotzini wields immense power and Susan begins to doubt everything she knows. As she realises the terrifying origin of the dark forces Saratzini controls she is in fear for herself and John but most of all for her unborn baby… Amazon

My brother also sought out a selection of brilliant books and has duly checked they have all been added to the spreadsheet, which for some reason he finds highly amusing. Here are a couple that he has bought me so that he can borrow them when I am done! As his birthday is only nine days after mine,I have duly returned the favour!

Victorian Murders by Jan Bondeson is clearly for both of us…

Blurb

This book features fifty-six Victorian cases of murder covered in the sensational weekly penny journal the Illustrated Police News between 1867 and 1900.
Some of them are famous, like the Bravo Mystery of 1876, the Llangibby Massacre of 1878 and the Mrs Pearcey case of 1890; others are little-known, like the Acton Atrocity of 1880, the Ramsgate Mystery of 1893 and the Grafton Street Murder of 1894. Take your ticket for the house of horrors. Amazon

As is the wonderfully titled Lady Bette and the Murder of Mr Thynn by Nigel Pickford.



Blurb

Lady Bette, the 14-year-old heiress to the vast Northumberland estates, becomes the victim of a plot by her grandmother, the Countess Howard, to marry her to the dissolute fortune-hunter Thomas Thynn, a man three times her age with an evil reputation. Revolted by her new husband, Lady Bette flees to Holland. Within weeks, Thynn is gunned down in the street by three hired assassins.

Who is behind the contract killing? Is it the Swedish Count Coningsmark, young and glamorous with blond hair down to his waist? Or is it a political assassination as the anti-Catholic press maintains? Thynn was, after all, a key player in the Protestant faction to exclude the Catholic James, Duke of York, as his brother Charles II’s successor.

Nigel Pickford creates a world of tension and insecurity, of constant plotting and counter-plotting and of rabid anti-Catholicism, where massive street demonstrations and public Papal burnings are weekly events. The action moves from the great landed estates of Syon and Petworth to the cheap taverns and brothels of London, and finally to Newgate and the gallows – the sporting spectacle of the day. In the process, the book gives us a vivid and deeply researched portrait of Restoration society. Amazon

What have you found to read this week? Do share!

tbr-watch

Since my last post I have read only 2 books and I have gained 7 so the TBR is on the way up again with 172!
Physical Books – 112
Kindle Books – 41
NetGalley Books –19
Audio Books –1

As three of this weeks reviews were of my own books I’ve added another 3 tokens so I’m 2 books in credit, having bought no new books.