How many times have you picked up a genealogy book and found it entertaining?
They just aren’t usually the types of things that you would read while sitting up in bed, unless you wanted something to help you sleep. Many genealogy books are just a long listing of names, dates, and places, with not a lot else.
But there are some that come alive with stories about the people themselves – how our ancestors lived and what they did. Those types of stories, if well written, can make almost forgetton ancestors seems alive again.
I’ve read maybe 50 genealogy-based mysteries, almost all fictional, and usually involving murder. Some of them are pretty good, and others not so much (just like any other genre of reading material).
Today I thought I’d share some of the books and authors of those mysteries, but first I’d like to report that our group, the Delta Writers’ Roundtable, which meets at the Delta Township District Library, has published our first anthology, a book of twenty-four short stories. We had our author party a few days ago.
I have three stories in the book, and two of them are somewhat genealogy-oriented, even though they are fictional. “Gold Star” is the story of a woman in World War II, and is based on a newspaper article I read while searching Detroit newspapers for an obituary. “Leavin’ Home” is my imagined story of one of my Irish immigrant ancestors as he is on the boat coming here during the Potato Famine.
If you are interested in the book, check it out on Amazon.com by searching “Odysseys and Oddities Delta Writers.”
My stories come from a desire to write about family, so I’m also working on a full-length genealogically-driven novel right now. It is tentatively entitled “Havenwood House,” and I’ll tell you more about it as it progresses, but, in the meantime, here are some genealogy mysteries that you can borrow or buy in various places today. They are all concerned with finding the secrets of the past. Of course, the usual formula is that something happened in the past that the genealogist of today must figure out, because he or she is in danger from someone who doesn’t want the mystery to be solved.
I need to start my list with the first genealogy mystery I ever read. “The Famous DAR Murder Mystery” by Graham Landrum starts when a body is discovered in a cemetery and the local DAR women decide to solve the crime. Nathan Dylan Goodwin is currently writing a series of books that heavily uses historic events to weave the story. Some of these are “Hiding the Past,” “The Lost Ancestor,” “The Orange Lilies,” “The America Ground,” “The Spyglass File,” and “The Missing Man.”
Jefferson Tayte is an American genealogist living in England, and is the protagonist in a series of books by Steve Robinson. This series includes “In the Blood,” “To the Grave,” “The Last Queen of England,” “The Lost Empress,′ “Kindred,” “Dying Games,” and “Letters from the Dead.”