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

The Lost Empress – Steve Robinson

Mystery (Genealogical) 5*'s
Mystery (Genealogical)
5*’s

On 29 May 1914 having left Quebec for Liverpool, the Empress of Ireland, an ocean liner sank following a collision with SS Storstad, a Norwegian collier. Of the 1,477 people on board that night 1,012 people died, the largest Canadian maritime loss of life in peacetime, one hundred years later Jefferson Tayte is trying to track down the true fate of Alice Stillwell a second class passenger on the liner.

Empress of Ireland

The Lost Empress is the fourth in the Jefferson Tayte series where the affable genealogist who is more prone to taking on more dangerous assignments than is surely normal for a profession, has an assignment that takes him across the Atlantic to England in search of the truth about the Admiral’s daughter. Armed with a locket in possession of a descendent of an Alice Dixon living in the US who has a strong suspicion that Alice didn’t die on 29 May 1914 as the records indicate but if not why does no-one know?

I have enjoyed all the stories featuring JT, he is a likeable man who has turned to making genealogy a business despite not knowing his own birth family, this story arc continues in this episode but otherwise each book can be read as a stand-alone with each book concerning a different period of history and its own dangerous adventure it finding the truth. This book is no different, within hours of landing in England, JT is turned away by the first name on his list, the descendent of Alice Stillwell, leaving only slightly perturbed, he is used to this kind of behaviour, he is nearly run off the road in a seemingly calculated move. When he gets to the next name on his list he finds that the man has been recently murdered but all is not lost the friendly policeman agrees to let JT help with the investigation in case it is related to the one hundred year old mystery.

JT’s investigation leads him into many areas including spies during WWI and those tasked to catch them, the Secret Service Bureau. Spying was dangerous, if caught it was a matter of high treason and the sentence was to be shot by firing squad at the Tower of London. Steve Robinson adds colour to JT’s tale by alternating chapters from Alice Stillwell with his present day investigation, a device that has worked well in all these books and lifts the subjects from pure research into a character that the reader can relate to.

Another fantastic episode and once again an informative and well-researched read especially as it details activities that were never mentioned as part of the history of WWI I learnt at school!

I’d like to thank the publishers Amazon Publishing for my copy of this book which I received in return for this honest review. The Lost Empress will be published on 21 October 2014

Previous books by Steve Robinson featuring Jefferson Tayte:

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.

I wrote a post last year about the rise of a genre in response to those of us who are interested in genealogy which you can read here which includes brief reviews for the previous JT books.

Posted in Weekly Posts

WWW Wednesday (October 15)

WWW Wednesday green

Hosted by Miz B at Should be Reading

To play along, just answer the following three (3) questions…
• What are you currently reading?
• What did you recently finish reading?
• What do you think you’ll read next?

I am currently reading The Lost Empress by Steve Robinson, the latest from the genealogical mystery series featuring Jefferson Tate

The Lost Empress

Blurb

On a foggy night in 1914, the ocean liner Empress of Ireland sank en route to England and now lies at the bottom of Canada’s St Lawrence River. 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. NetGalley

I have recently finished a truly chilling tale, The Cold Cold Sea by Linda Huber, where a young child, Olivia goes missing on a beach. Olivia’s mother refuses to leave the holiday cottage desperate to know what happened to her daughter. Another mother is getting her daughter ready for her first day at school but the teacher soon realises that there is something wrong with Hailey…

Click on the book cover for my review

The Cold Cold Sea

Next I am going to read The Twilight Hour by Nicci Gerrard, one half of the author team Nicci French.

The Twilight Hour

Blurb

Eleanor Lee is fiercely independent. She has lived alone well into her nineties, despite her now near-total blindness. Now, finally, she has been persuaded by her children to move into a home.
She employs Peter, a recent graduate nursing a broken heart, to spend the summer sorting through her attic – papers, photographs, books and letters – ahead of the move.
These fragments of her own history unleash in Eleanor a long-concealed story of forbidden love, betrayal, passion, grief and self-sacrifice; and in their unlikely friendship, something is unlocked in Peter’s heart, too. NetGalley

What are you reading this week? Do share!

Posted in Weekly Posts

Friday Finds (September 12)

Friday Finds Hosted by 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).

So, come on — share with us your FRIDAY FINDS

Well I’m now in serious trouble as the number of physical books entering the house has far exceeded the limit I was given of a miserly five books per month – yes I’ve had more than that and it is only early in the month!

As I’ve pointed out it isn’t my fault – the first book for this week was a complete surprise as I won it! I am the proud owner of a signed copy of The Paying Guests by Sarah Waters which I’m delighted to have as I loved the previous books by this author, even better this one is set in one of my favourite time periods.

The Paying Guests

Blurb

It is 1922, and London is tense. Ex-servicemen are disillusioned; the out-of-work and the hungry are demanding change. And in South London, in a genteel Camberwell villa — a large, silent house now bereft of brothers, husband, and even servants — life is about to be transformed as impoverished widow Mrs. Wray and her spinster daughter, Frances, are obliged to take in lodgers.
With the arrival of Lilian and Leonard Barber, a modern young couple of the “clerk class,” the routines of the house will be shaken up in unexpected ways. Little do the Wrays know just how profoundly their new tenants will alter the course of Frances’s life — or, as passions mount and frustration gathers, how far-reaching, and how devastating, the disturbances will be.

From NetGalley I have the latest in the Jefferson Tayte series from the genealogical mystery writer Steve Robinson, this one has the impressive title The Lost Empress

The Lost Empress

Blurb

From acclaimed author Steve Robinson comes a bold new Jefferson Tayte mystery. On a foggy night in 1914, the ocean liner Empress of Ireland sank en route to England and now lies at the bottom of Canada’s St Lawrence River. 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. This is the fourth book in the Jefferson Tayte mystery series but can be enjoyed as a stand-alone story. NetGalley

Almost exactly a year ago I wrote a post about Genealogy in Fiction that include information about the previous books in this series, if you’re interested you can read ithere

I also received a copy of One Last Dance by Judith Lennox which is another WWI
tale.
One Last Dance

‘Times change, and sometimes for the better…’
As the twentieth century draws to a close, Esme Reddaway knows that she must uncover the truth. A truth that began during the First World War when Devlin Reddaway fell passionately in love with Esme’s elder sister, Camilla, and promised to rebuild his ancestral home, Rosindell, for her.
But the war changes everything and Devlin returns to England to find that Camilla is engaged to someone else. Angry and vengeful, he marries Esme, who has been secretly in love with him for years. Esme tries to win Devlin’s heart by reviving the annual summer dance. But as the years pass she fears that Rosindell has a malign influence on those who live there, and the revelation of a shocking secret on the night of the dance at Rosindell tears her life apart. Decades later, it is she who must lay the ghosts of Rosindell to rest.
Spanning the last century, Esme’s story of sibling rivalry, heartbreak, betrayal and forgiveness is sure to appeal to fans of Kate Morton, Rachel Hore and Downton Abbey. Goodreads

… and then I went to a book sale where the books were only 50p each. As I explained to the keeper of book tally, I left a lot of books behind but I did pick up this little pile.

Book Sale Sept 2014

Great finds in this list include The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society which I’ve been meaning to read for ages and seeing as it features our sister Channel Island should not be missed,  Before the Poison by Peter Robinson which has been on my wishlist since April as well as two PD James books which although I’ve read, are missing from my collection.

What have you found to read this week?