February 25, 2022
Even the most dedicated genealogist occasionally needs a break from research. A beach vacation, for example, is probably not the best time to be checking Ancestry for leads about your second great grandmother’s maiden name. It is, however, a perfect time to read a genealogy mystery.
If you haven’t discovered genealogy mysteries yet, it turns out there are a lot of them. Most of them probably don’t qualify as great literature, but they’re perfect for that tropical getaway. On my recent vacation, I ran across two genealogical mystery series that I’d recommend.
One is the Genealogy Detectives Mysteries by M. K. Jones. This series of six books involves Genealogist Maggie Gilbert and her two colleagues who form a genealogy company called Maze Investigations. The series takes place in Wales, although the detectives follow genealogy trails to places like Spain and Ireland.
The other series I discovered is called the Jayne Sinclair Genealogical Mysteries by M. J. Lee. This series of eight books features a genealogist called Jayne Sinclair who is based in Manchester, England. Jayne is a retired police detective who uses her sleuthing skills to solve difficult genealogical mysteries.
Genealogists will enjoy following along as the protagonists of both series follow the trail of missing ancestors for their clients. Since both series are set in the United Kingdom, the genealogists use mostly British-centric sources such as Find My Past and the British Newspaper Archives to help solve their seemingly impossible cases. They also make trips to various archives and libraries to delve into records.
The way the characters use the online sources and in person repositories indicates that both authors know their way around the genealogy world. The heroes of the stories seem to find everything they need relatively easily which doesn’t always happen in real life, but a little literary license keeps the story moving.
One of the best parts of the mysteries is that the characters delve into historical events in the course of their investigations. One mystery deals with the Easter Uprising in Ireland, another with the Spanish Revolution and still another with the Battle of the Somme during World War I. The authors include information about the historical events portrayed in the books at the end for anyone who wants to find out more.
My biggest quibble with these mysteries is the amount of mayhem and violence that seems to surround the genealogists in these stories. Their houses are broken into, and their lives are threatened in every genealogy case they undertake. Murders seem to abound during their investigations. I know a few genealogists who make their living doing genealogical research, and I can’t remember any of them ever being kidnapped to keep a secret about long-dead ancestors.
On the whole these mysteries are fun reads. As you read, it’s fun to pit your genealogical skills against the characters’ and imagine how you’d approach their cases. Each of the books is part of a series, but each can also stand alone. All of them are quick reads, as well. Best of all, all fourteen of these mysteries are available to borrow on Amazon on Kindle Unlimited for free. This definitely makes these books perfect for when you want something light, but still want a genealogy connection!