Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Steve Robinson news and reviews

Since my interview with Steve Robinson, there has been even more good news for the genealogical detective but sadly no advance on getting him to pose in the hat.

Interview with Steve Robinson
'To the Grave' has won the Indie Book Bargains '2012 best series book in crime, thriller & mystery' category.  It also came second overall in the votes.

The Feed-a-Read Top 10 sellers, backed by top publishers, features 'To the Grave' at Number 1 and 'In the Blood' at Number 2 for this quarter

amazon link
'The last Queen of England' is due out in paperback with a giveaway on goodreads to celebrate. Put your name in the draw here

That makes my reviews a bit of an anti-climax but here they are!

Family history was never supposed to be like this...

When American genealogist, Jefferson Tayte, accepted his latest assignment he had no idea it might kill him. But while murder was never part of the curriculum he is kidding himself if he thinks he can walk away from this one.

Why can't I trace them?  What happened to them?

Driven by the irony of being a genealogist who doesn't know who his own parents are, Tayte soon finds that the assignment shares a stark similarity to his own struggle. Someone has gone to great lengths to erase an entire family bloodline from recorded history and he's not going home until he's found out why. After all, if he's not good enough to find this family, how can he ever expect to be good enough to someday find his own?

Set in Cornwall, England, past and present, Tayte's research centres around the tragic life of a young Cornish girl, a writing box, and the discovery of a dark family 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 they will stop at nothing to find them.

'In the Blood' - my review

A very enjoyable mix of detective story and historical novel.

Jefferson Tate, affectionately known as J.T., is a genealogical detective whose work stirs up family secrets, dead bodies and wild car chases, all delivered with panache. If you like fast-paced who-dunnits with Robinson’s extra ingredients of genealogy and period detail, you’ll love this series.

When J.T. is in one of his many potentially fatal situations, the plot has the fascination of a computer game, where you’re wondering how you would e.g. rescue a chained person from a flooding cave with a rope, a torch and the capacity to swim. Some of the narrow escapes are enjoyable for their ingenuity.

The idea is not only a winner but, as far as I can work out, original.  Robinson invented  this genre, which allows him to dip into whichever historical period fits J.T.’s research into a client’s family tree. I was impressed by the detail, whether of the 19th century storyline, or of the Cornish tourist trade – all convincing.

The central character is paunchy, flawed and likeable. He is driven by the gaps in his knowledge of his own family and by a passionate interest to uncover the truth – the classic detective, with the genealogical twist. Other characters are well-observed and created in cameo, but the pace doesn’t allow time for development. I’d prefer slower pace and time for relationships to mature but I think my hopes are doomed. J.T. lives in the fast lane.

amazon link


Inspired by the author's own family history...

To the Grave follows American genealogist, Jefferson Tayte, as he uncovers the disturbing consequences of a seemingly innocuous act in 1944 that was intended to keep a family together, but which ultimately tore it apart. His research exposes hidden pasts and the desperate measures some people will take to keep a secret.

Sitting in a hotel room at gunpoint, facing an impossible decision, Tayte is forced to wonder how his latest assignment had come to this. Five days earlier, after a child's suitcase arrives unexpectedly at his client's home in Washington DC, Tayte embarks upon a journey that takes him back to England as he tries to unravel the story of Mena Lasseter - a girl whose life has become a family mystery.

Hoping to reunite his client with the birth mother she never knew she had, having no idea that she'd been adopted, Tayte's research draws him back to wartime Leicestershire and the arrival of the US 82nd Airborne, which irrevocably changes the course of Mena's life. But as Tayte tries to find out what became of her and why she was separated from her suitcase all those years ago, he soon finds that he is not the only one looking for her. Someone else is determined to get to Mena first and it quickly becomes apparent that their motive is a secret worth killing for.

'To the Grave' - my review

Expert story-telling.

I read this straight after ‘In the blood’, having enjoyed the first book. This is even better, giving us the same mix of modern genealogical detective work and narrative set in the past. In this book, we spend more time in the past, WW2, than with Jefferson Tayte, the likeably flawed genealogical detetctive.

The mystery turns around the search for a 66 year old’s real mother and takes us into the life of Mena, a teenager in wartime Britain. Robinson’s gift for empathy with a variety of characters, both male and female, brings Mena fully to life. The period detail is as realistic as the characters and this is one of those stories that you don’t just read – you live it.

Menaces and murders add to the excitement but are optional extras for me. It is the story of Mena that will live in my memory.

1 comment:

  1. Two great reviews, Jean.
    Well done, Steve and best of luck with the The Last Queen of England