I love a mystery. Since my youth, I have been an avid reader of the mystery genre. My preferences are fictional, and the sub-genres cozies and historical, featuring amateur detectives in modern and historical times. I supplement by reading police procedurals, soft and hard-boiled PIs, and thrillers.
How does this relate to genealogy? With my first discovery researching my family, I felt the adrenal rush of solving a mystery and my addiction was born. Now seventeen years later I attempted to merge my two loves so I began researching the mystery book market for genealogy related mysteries.
To my surprise, I uncovered several mystery series that star amateur and professional genealogists as the detective. For those of you who also enjoy reading mysteries, I would like to share these discoveries:
- The Nick Herald series by Jimmy Fox features a professional genealogist in New Orleans, Louisiana
- The Danny O’Flaherty series by Jonathan Harrington stars an American teacher researching his family’s roots in Ireland and New York City.
- The Lottie Albright series by Charlotte Hinger features a historian and editor for the county historical society in a small town in Western Kansas.
- The Demary Jones series by E. L. Larken is set in Seattle, Washington, with Demary as the owner of Confidential Research, specializing in genealogy and historical research.
- Victory (Torie) O’Shea, a genealogist in New Kassel, Missouri, is ably portrayed in a series by Rett MacPherson.
- Natasha Blake, a genealogist in the Cotswolds in England appears in the series by Fiona Mountain.
- Fay Sampson is the author of the Suzie Fewings books a series about a genealogist discovering interesting secrets in her family history in England.
- The Family Tree mysteries by Patricia Sprinkle feature Katherine Murray as an amateur genealogist who finds strange events in the past.
- Mort Sinclair, a respected genealogist and lawyer on Fogge Island off the New England coast, stars in a series by Gene Stratton. Gene Stratton, a much-traveled former CIA case officer, is a well-known genealogist who has had three prior books published: Plymouth Colony, Applied Genealogy, and Killing Cousins, the first Mort Sinclair mystery.
- The Nigel Barnes series by Dan Waddell concerns a professional genealogist who assists the police, mainly Detective Chief Inspector Grant Foster in London, England.
While the following series doesn’t star an amateur or professional genealogist, it does rely on house histories and family history to resolve current day crimes:
- Meg Corey, who takes over her mother’s colonial home and apple orchard, in fictional Granford, Massachusetts, in the Orchard mysteries by Sheila Connolly.
Of course for non-fiction fans there is Only A Few Bones: A True Account of the Rolling Fork Tragedy and Its Aftermath by John Philip Colletta. This is an outstanding read.
So far, I’ve read all the Torie O’Shea, Lottie Albright, Katherine Murray, Natasha Blake, Meg Corey and Nigel Barnes books. All were enjoyable. The Nigel Barnes books are page turners, darker than the others, but are leading the group as my favorites. I am still reading my way through the remainder.
All of the books mentioned here can be found at Amazon.com.