One of my favorite new authors is Fiona Mountain. Her first mystery book incorporating genealogy is entitled, Pale as the Dead. The main character is Natasha Blake, a 28 year-old, English ancestor detective. In this mystery she is initially approached by a young model named Bethany who has an obsession with the Pre-Raphealite model, Lizzie Siddal, best known as the model for the drowning Ophelia portrait. Soon Bethany disappears and her photographer boyfriend hires Natasha. This mystery includes genealogical research and history about the real life Lizzie Siddal and her circle of friends. Because this is a mystery written by an English author, I did have trouble following some of the thoroughly English nuances enjoyed reading a book that involved so much genealogical research. It even inspired me to learn more about the Pre-Raphealite painters and models.
Fiona Mountain has a follow-up book, entitled Bloodline that is now available in paperback. This mystery involves secrets from the World War II era and how they destroy a family. Mountain's web site tells a little of the book, "Cinderella is in the bluebell woods at Poacher's Dell. The anonymous note means nothing to ancestor detective Natasha Blake. Then one of her clients, an enigmatic old man who commissioned a family tree of his granddaughter's boyfriend is shot dead…" Fiona's web site can be found at www.fionamountain.com .
Rett MacPherson's mystery series with Missourian amateur genealogist and museum docent Torie O'Shea are fun, quick reads. Books in this series include Veiled Antiquity, Killing Cousins, A Misty Mourning, and In Sheep's Clothing. These are quick reads that don't involve as much genealogical research details the Fiona Mountain books but are a great way to take a mental break. Her newest book, Died in the Wool is scheduled to be released on March 6. Her web site, http://www.rettmacpherson.com/ includes information about her personal family tree and some family photos that she has uploaded. She is also involved in writing for the blog, Killer Hobbies, http://killerhobbies.blogspot.com/. This blog is about the hobbies that mystery writers combine with their stories.
Deadly Pedigree is one in a series of genealogical mystery books by Jimmy Fox. His protagonist is a professional genealogist living in New Orleans named Nick Herald. In this book he takes on a case involving a holocaust survivor. As he conducts his research, it becomes obvious that some people want to keep the past in the past. Jimmy Fox describes his lead character Nick Herald, as "an ex-college professor of English, now a Certified Genealogist, living and working in New Orleans, Louisiana. Undeservedly disgraced in a former profession . . . he has become an outsider, reluctant to trust or to love, but driven to help justice prevail. . . . His passion for genealogy is genuine, even spiritual: he believes that exploring the lives of our ancestors helps us better understand other people, other cultures, and other times." While Jimmy Fox is far from reality in characterizing professional genealogists, his character steals records and digs up bodies, it is just a fictional book and should not be held up as exploring reality. The author's web site can be found at http://www.geocities.com/jimmyfoxmysteries/index.html.
For those who have children that might be interested in a good family history story there is the novel, Search for the Shadowman by Joan Lowery Nixon. This fictionalized account of a seventh-grade boy researching his family history explores what happens when he comes across a family story that no one wants uncovered. This story involves 1800's Texas and a young man trying to clear up the family name.
Where can you find other books that meld genealogy and fiction? Kimberly Powell has a list of the "top 10 fiction books for genealogy lovers" at http://genealogy.about.com/od/writing_family_history/tp/fiction_books.htm. Her list includes the Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon and Hanging Katherine Garret by Abigail Davis. Hanging Katherine Garret is the fictionalized story of a 1737 trial of an American Indian woman blamed for the murder of her infant and the latter-day genealogist who works at uncovering her story.
The Mid-Continent Library, http://www.mcpl.lib.mo.us/readers/lists/adult/genlovers.htm, has a great list of genealogy fiction books. They are categorized alphabetically, according to author. and include both adult and juvenile fiction books. Another list called "Genealogy and Fiction" can be found at http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.com/~jkidd/fiction.htm. The list is divided into mystery, science fiction, historical fiction, children and young adults, and unclassified. Many of the book titles are linked to Amazon.com, in case you want to purchase them. For books on the list that are currently out of print, I would suggest checking them out at your local library or asking the reference librarian about getting the book via interlibrary loan.
Source Information: GenWeekly, New Providence, NJ, USA: Genealogy Today LLC, 2007.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Genealogy Today LLC.
*Effective May 2010, GenWeekly articles that are more than five years old no longer require a subscription for full access.
Would you like to browse through our collection of GenWeekly articles written exclusively for Genealogy Today? Yes, take me there Would you like to keep up-to-date with the latest releases from Genealogy Today, along with news from a variety of other sources by receiving The Genealogy News (a FREE service) by email? Yes, sign me up Would you like to become a Genealogy Today member and be able to manage your research experience, post messages to forums, add comments to resources and much more? Yes, show me how Would you like to tap into our community of over 85,000 members by posting a query and get assistance breaking down your most difficult brickwalls? Yes, show me how Would you like to go shopping in a marketplace of over 700 items, including charts, scrapbooking materials, books and a variety of unique gifts and supplies? Yes, take me there