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Jefferson Tayte

The Girl in the Painting by Steve Robinson

When a genealogy student asks him for help in researching the subject of a painting, Jefferson Tayte feels that she is holding something back. It transpires that the woman in the painting is an ancestor of student Nat and that she would like to find out more about her and why she seems to disappear from the records at around the time the picture was painted. To complicate matters further, the painting has recently been stolen and there are also links to a recent murder. Why would someone steal this painting all those years later and what secret does it hold that would make someone want to kill?

Oh how I have missed Jefferson Tayte! Our favourite genealogist is back only this time, his job title has changed! After events in previous books, he is now teaching others how to research their families, something he hopes will be less dangerous! Of course, it’s not long before one of his students piques his interest and he finds himself embroiled in another dangerous mission in the pursuit of a long-lost ancestor.

If you have never read any of the Jefferson Tayte books before, this is a great introduction to the series as, with it being a novella, it is a quick read. The plot is an interesting one, taking us into the slums of Victorian London and contrasting it to the lives of the well-to-do. This is my favourite era to read about in historical fiction and so with the genealogical theme, it was right up my street.

The story is told in two time frames, both being as good to read as the other. As a family historian, I enjoyed reading about Jefferson’s research and it made me long for the pre-pandemic days when we could visit galleries and record offices.

If you haven’t read any of Steve Robinson’s books yet, then I recommend every one of them. Here are my reviews of some of his other books:

Dying Games

Letters from the Dead

Kindred

The Penmaker’s Wife

Letters from the Dead by Steve Robinson

When Jefferson Tayte is tasked to find the identity of his client’s long lost 4x great-grandfather, the genealogist finds himself drawn into the search for a ruby that has been missing for generations. What is already a challenging case takes a murderous turn when others with knowledge of the ruby suddenly start turning up dead. With letters from 150 years ago being left for Tayte after each murder, each providing more information about a horrendous event in the past, can he solve his client’s mystery before he, too, suffers the same fate?

For some years I have been a fan of Steve Robinson’s Jefferson Tayte books, and I look forward to each one with great anticipation. Once again, the author has managed to produce a tense story that will appeal to fans of mystery, historical and genealogical fiction and has definitely become one of my favourite Tayte novels.

If you thought events in previous books would have made Tayte consider the potential dangers of the cases he takes on, you’d be very wrong! Once again, he finds himself taking on a deranged killer in a story that, at times, had more than the touch of an Agatha Christie about it. There was certainly a hint of And Then There Were None as we see each family member getting bumped off one by one, and the gathering of all the suspects in one room was definitely classic Poirot!

Letters From the Dead, in addition to being set in modern Scotland, also takes place in colonial India. Steve Robinson has certainly done his research to paint a vivid picture of life at this controversial time in British history. The characters were realistic and managed to show the contrast between life at the Residency for the British and the Indians. I enjoyed the slow build-up as we finally discovered just what secrets had been covered up and how this continued to affect people today. This gradual retelling of the story complemented the high octane closing chapters as the plot drew to a close.

If you have not read any of Steve Robinson’s work and are a fan of historical and genealogical fiction or merely just love a good mystery story, then you won’t go wrong with this series which is going from strength to strength.

With thanks to Thomas & Mercer and Netgalley for my advance copy.

Dying Games by Steve Robinson

51oXpj-8ZILWhen twin brothers are found drowned in a Perspex box in Washington D. C., and a family history chart is left at the scene, the police realise that this is one of several recent murders with a link to genealogist Jefferson Tayte. Knowing that his experience will be invaluable, Tayte is summoned by the FBI to assist in catching the ruthless killer who always seems to be one step ahead. With his reputation at stake and the body count rapidly rising, will Jefferson have to pay the ultimate price to stop the sadist in his tracks?

I have become a big fan of Steve Robinson’s Jefferson Tayte books over the years and I await each new instalment eagerly. I was excited, therefore, to receive Dying Games through Net Galley, telling myself that I would wait until nearer publication day before I would read it. This resolution lasted a whole day before I found myself clicking on it on my kindle!

The book begins in a very macabre fashion as a woman is burned to death inside a dolls’ house. This sets the tone for the rest of the book as the twisted killer re-enacts deaths that have appeared in the family trees of the victims. From quite early on, JT realises that the killer is someone he has encountered in his professional life but is finding it impossible to convince the FBI that the man cannot be working alone. In Frankie Mavro, JT has the perfect sidekick – someone who provides him with the necessary authority to undertake his research but who is also genuinely on his side.

Like the rest of this series, once I started on this book, I found it difficult to put down. I do feel, though, that this one is different to the others as it had an almost Dan Brown feel to it with our hero solving clues against the clock in order to prevent a tragedy. The ‘race against time’ element made it a very fast-paced, exhilarating read and I really liked the fact how, in many of the cases, there was no happy ending, as this helped JT to develop a true hatred of the unknown man.

Dying Games is a superb addition to the Jefferson Tayte franchise and I hope this is a series that continues to run and run: the ending of this book has certainly changed the direction of any future plots!

With thanks to Net Galley and Thomas & Mercer for the ARC.

Top 5 Wednesday: Fictional Jobs You’d Want to Have

As the majority of my reading comes from the crime genre, it was inevitable that most of my inspiration for this post would come from there!

Ruth Galloway – Forensic Archaeologist

img_0987Although her main job is that of a university lecturer, Dr. Ruth Galloway has become more well-known for her work in advising the police force in cases involving the discovery of skeletal remains and other buried items. At times, this has been quite a dangerous career move but it’s definitely never boring! I think I’d give the parts where she is pursued by crazed gunmen a miss though!

 

Jefferson Tayte – Genealogist

To some people, spending time in record offices and traipsing around old churchyards might sound like their idea of a nightmare, but for me it’s like a dream come true! As someone who researches their family history, this is a career that I could definitely see myself doing one day! Again, though, preferably without the people trying to kill me to keep secrets hidden!

 

Robert Langdon – Symbologist

infernoWho wouldn’t relish the chance of travelling round Europe, visiting significant museums, galleries and places of worship? Having access to places that the ordinary person would never get to see whilst solving codes in order to protect mankind sounds like my idea of fun!

 

 

Miss Honey – Teacher9780141365466

This would be a busman’s holiday for me but which teacher would not be happy with a class of happy, well-behaved, intelligent children? Of course, having a child like Matilda in your class would be good for the end of day tidying up too!

 

Willy Wonka – Chocolate Factory Owner

charlie_and_the_chocolate_factoryIt’s back to Roald Dahl for my final choice. Inventing new chocolates and sweets and owning the most fantastic chocolate factory in the world is every child’s dream! Pair that with the highly entertaining Oompa Loompas and work would be an enjoyable experience every day!

Top 5 Wednesday: Books to Get You Out of a Reading Slump

I’ve been looking for ideas for something different to post on my blog so was pleased to discover the Goodreads ‘Top 5 Wednesday‘ group. While I can’t promise to partake every Wednesday, I’m going to give it a good try!

Today’s topic is an interesting one. While I’ve never really experienced a reading slump, there are some books that, over the years, I’ve returned to numerous times when I didn’t really know what to read next. There are also a few series where I know I could pick up any one of the books at any time to read.

1. Ruth Rendell, Shake Hands For Ever

img_1038I have been a huge fan of Ruth Rendell’s Inspector Wexford novels ever since seeing the first one on TV. This one is, by far, my favourite and one that I have read and watched numerous times. When a woman is found strangled in her own home, Chief Inspector Wexford undertakes an investigation that soon turns into an obsession, threatening his career. He knows who the killer is, but can he prove it before it is too late?

2. Sue Townsend, The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole aged 13¾

img_1040I remember reading this book at a fairly young age and, despite probably not understanding everything at the time, finding it incredibly funny. This series is one that I pick up every few years as each book is a quick read and guarantees me a good laugh. Detailing the trials and tribulations of teenager Adrian Mole, he writes candidly about his parents’ marital troubles, teenage angst and his love for Pandora Braithwaite.

3. Enid Blyton, The Mystery of the Missing Necklace

img_1039Enid Blyton’s ‘Five Find-Outers’ books were probably what encouraged my love of crime/mystery books. As a child, this one was always my favourite, and I remember taking it out of the school library to read at least once every year! I recently purchased a box set of this series and can’t wait to revisit my childhood in one of those rare reading lulls! In The Mystery of the Missing Necklace, someone is stealing jewels but when an expensive necklace goes missing and the police are stumped, it is up to the children to save the day.

4. Elly Griffiths’ ‘Ruth Galloway’ series

img_1041A recent convert to the novels of Elly Griffiths, I have, over the past year, read each one of the ‘Ruth Galloway’ series. Ruth, an archaeologist, teaches at university but is also developing a reputation for being the go-to person when the local police unearth human remains. These are books that I know, in time, I will read over and over again.

5. Steve Robinson’s ‘Jefferson Tayte’ series

img_1042Genealogical mysteries are a fairly new addition to the world of fiction and there are some great authors writing in this genre. For me, however, the best has to be Steve Robinson and his Jefferson Tayte novels. Tayte, a genealogist, tackles the family mysteries that others can’t solve and, more often than not, finds himself in danger when doing so! Even though I have only read these books once, I know that they will definitely be revisited at some point as they are so well-written.

 

 

 

 

 

My Eagerly Anticipated Books!

It’s been a great year for books and 2017 promises to be just as good! Here are some of the books I’m looking forward to seeing published:

img_0987The Chalk Pit by Elly Griffiths

2016 has seen me binge-reading all of Elly Griffiths’ Dr. Ruth Galloway books and the publication of The Chalk Pit can’t come soon enough! Over the past year, Ruth has become one of my favourite fictional characters and I can’t wait to see what happens to her next.

Published on February 23rd 2017

 

Origin by Dan Brown

519g6di52dl-_sy346_I know that Dan Brown’s books aren’t to everyone’s liking but I’m a firm believer that any book that gets people reading is a good idea! After finding The Lost Symbol a bit of a disappointment, Brown was back on track with Inferno (despite the dodgy ending in the film adaptation…). As with all of Brown’s books, the plot is, so far, shrouded in secrecy, but I’m hoping that it’s set in Europe and not America!

Published on September 26th 2017

 

51vc6ddce-lThe Somme Legacy by M J Lee

I enjoyed M J Lee’s first foray into genealogical mystery (The Irish Inheritance) and was pleased to see that a second book in the Jayne Sinclair series is imminent! As someone with an interest in the Somme, I am looking forward to this book immensely and can’t wait to see what secrets are hidden in the trenches of the First World War.

Published on February 9th 2017

 

downloadDying Games by Steve Robinson

After the revelations in Steve Robinson’s previous book, Kindred, this book is highly anticipated! The Amazon blurb has done more than whet my appetite!

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.

Published on 4th May 2017

2017 will also, hopefully, see new books from Kathleen McGurl, Lynda la Plante, Ann Troup, Nathan Dylan Goodwin, Luca Veste and Alex Grecian amongst others – I can’t wait!

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