Review of The Spyglass File: a genealogical crime mystery

14 October 2016

This is the fourth book of the adventures of fictional forensic genealogist, Morton Farrier by UK author Nathan Dylan Goodwin . My December 2014 review of the first two books Hiding the Past and The Lost Ancestor can be read here. Then there was the novella, The Orange Lilies, where Morton Farrier starts to explore his own family origins. I read and thoroughly enjoyed the novella. My January 2016 review of Nathan’s third book featuring the adventures of Morton Farrier, The America Ground, can be read here.

As a dedicated Morton Farrier fan, I have been patiently waiting for the fourth book to be published. I was so keen that I purchased my own copy before receiving Nathan’s offer to review The Spyglass File. At the time it was National Family History Month in Australia, so Nathan generously donated two copies as lucky door prizes.

the-spyglass-file-coverI was quite happy to accept Nathan’s offer to review The Spyglass File. Again it is a standalone genealogical crime  mystery set against Morton’s own life dramas. You don’t need to have read the previous books to enjoy this one.

Morton is commissioned by a client who was born during World War 2 and adopted out. She has already tracked down two half siblings but is wanting to know more about what her birth mother did during the war and her birth father. It is set against the time frame and location of the Battle of Britain.

This setting was particularly relevant for me as in July 2015 I managed to tick off one of the things on my bucket list while on a brief stay in London. I took a bus tour down to Dover to see the White Cliffs of Dover and on the way back to London we stopped at the Battle of Britain memorial and the National Memorial to the Few at Capel-le-Ferne. There was time to explore the memorial and to look at the list of pilots killed during that time. I even managed a coffee in the same coffee shop as Morton and climbed the same circular staircase to the terrace. You really can see the coast of France from that part of England.

Having been in the same location, although briefly, gave the book a deeper meaning for me as I could visualise some of what was happening in the book with what I had been told and seen on the tour of the Memorial.

Of course I also enjoyed Morton’s uncovering all of the secrets and tracking down the client’s mother’s war time history. I won’t give away the ending but I did start to have my suspicions as we neared the end. Morton’s cases always seem to have an element of danger with bad guys trying to stop him discovering the truth. Thankfully that doesn’t happen in real life family history.

As in earlier books, the story was also set against the backdrop of Morton’s own search for his biological father  and perhaps we will learn more about his father in the next book. The Spyglass File finishes with Morton just making it to his own wedding to the long suffering Juliette. On seeing his bruised face, Juliette whispers ‘God, I hope that photographer is good at Photoshopping’ and throughout the book there is subtle humour which leaves you smiling.

This story was a real life inspiration and Nathan has written a blog post The Story Behind The Spyglass File and it is worth reading too.  It does reveal a parallel but nothing that gives the whole storyline away.

It is always hard to review thrillers as you do not want to reveal the plot but anyone who enjoys crime mysteries and genealogy will love reading about Morton’s genealogical investigations. All four books are standalone thrillers but my personal preference is to read them in order as this helps to understand Morton’s own family situation and his long standing relationship with Juliette.

It is another great read and I can’t wait for the fifth adventure of Morton Farrier, forensic genealogist. As always I hope it is not too long a wait!

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