Nov 5, 2021

Review of the Latest Forensic Genealogist Novel

November 5, 2021

For most of us, researching, organizing, analyzing and writing up our conclusions about our own and other people’s genealogy is enough genealogy to fill up all of our time. If not, there are webinars, genealogy societies, institutes, seminars and conferences to keep us occupied between actual genealogy projects.


But what about those of us who just can’t get enough of genealogy, even with all of the above? For us, there are genealogy-based mysteries. One such series, written by British author Nathan Dylan Goodwin, is the Forensic Genealogist series. The ever-growing series is now at nine books with more titles probable.


The hero of the series is a genealogist named Morton Farrier. Morton uses his skills as a genealogist to solve family mysteries for himself and his clients. Genealogists are not typically thought of as action heroes, but Morton’s cases often turn out to be surprisingly dangerous. They also feature way more murders than I think most genealogists typically run into while researching folks’ ancestry.


I’ve just finished reading the most recent book in the series The Foundling. In his latest adventure Morton has agreed to try to find the mother of three adopted women. He begins his quest knowing only that the three women’s DNA shows them to be half-sisters. One of the women is an unknown  half-sister of Morton’s recently discovered biological mother. Just to add a little more interest, Goodwin even throws in a couple of murders.


If all of this sounds a bit far-fetched, it probably is, but that doesn’t interfere with the fun of reading this novel. It’s especially fun for those of us who do genealogy. The author spends a good deal of time detailing the websites and local archives that Morton visits in his quest for the truth about the three women’s history.


I might have tried solving the family mystery slightly differently than Morton does, but it’s clear that the author knows his way around a genealogy website. His descriptions of the features of several well-known sites are spot on – right down to how their search engines work. He also does a good job of interweaving DNA into the story. His explanations of the science of DNA are clear but not so long and involved that the reader loses track of the storyline.


Although this book is the ninth in the series, I read it without having read the earlier titles. That didn’t really keep me from enjoying the book, but it probably would have been better had I read some of the earlier titles. I’m sure I missed a few allusions to earlier cases.


The Foundlings is not what I would call “serious” literature, but it’s definitely a fun read, especially for genealogists. It’s available at Amazon in either Kindle or paperback version. It’ll be great for one of those days when you just can’t get enough genealogy!


Carol Stetser

Researcher/Director at Large