By Nathan Dylan Goodwin
The day after Peter Coldrick hired forensic genealogist Morton Farrier to find his father’s parents, Coldrick was dead.
Suicide, the police believe. Morton isn’t convinced.
Among other things, Coldrick had paid him £50,000 to do the search and had left a message later in the day that he needed to see him because he had found something important regarding the search.
Dead client or not, Morton feels an obligation to finish Coldrick’s project. In his 12 years as a forensic genealogist, he had only once or twice come across searches where an individual appeared never to have been born.
As he digs into probate records, he discovers that Peter Coldrick’s father James, a common laborer, left an estate of £780,000.
The more Morton digs, the more roadblocks to his research appear: missing records, a mugging in which his laptop is taken and, finally, an explosion that blows up his home and files. One thing that was clear before his records were destroyed is that a connection was developing between James Coldrick and the powerful Windsor-Sackville family.
If a detective story based on genealogical research sounds like a boring shuffle through dusty archives, you’d be wrong. Yes, there are record searches, but there’s also all of the usual detection of a mystery book: sneaking into abandoned buildings, breaking into houses to collect a DNA sample, being thumped on the head. There are plenty of twists and turns, too, as Morton’s early theories about the relationship between the Windsor Sackvilles and the Coldricks prove to be false.
Author Nathan Dylan Goodwin switches chapters of Morton’s contemporary experiences with others told from the point of view of a woman named Emily in June 1944. Emily’s chapters give life and detail to portions of the story that would not have been captured in records or documents.
While it’s easy to guess that Peter Coldrick didn’t kill himself, you’ll be on the edge of your chair reading to find out who did and why.
Morton, his girlfriend PCSO Juliette Meade, his gay soldier brother Jeremy and his dour father are all interesting enough characters to sustain the series. Morton learns in a series of poorly timed discussions with his father that he is adopted. His reluctant search for his own birth father floats in the background of the sequels to HIDING THE PAST (2013):
- THE LOST ANCESTOR
- THE ORANGE LILIES, a Christmastime novella in which Morton turns his skills to his own past.
- THE AMERICA GROUND, an attempt to find his birth father that gets derailed by another case
- THE SPYGLASS FILE, picks up the search for Morton’s birth father
- THE MISSING MAN, a continuation of his search for his father
- THE SUFFRAGETTE’S SECRET
- THE WICKED TRADE
- THE STERLING AFFAIR
The prequel to the series is THE ASYLUM, which can be downloaded for free at Nathan Dylan Goodwin’s website.
About the Author: Nathan Dylan Goodwin
After earning a degree in radio, film and television studies, he went to Canterbury Christ Church University to earn a master’s degree in creative writing. The opening chapters of THE FORENSIC GENEALOGIST were written for his final assessment for his master’s program.
His first book was the nonfiction work HASTINGS AT WAR (1939 – 1945), published in 2005. That was followed by three other local history books: HASTINGS: WARTIME MEMORIES AND PHOTOGRAPHS, AROUND BATTLE THROUGH TIME, and HASTINGS & ST. LEONARDS THROUGH TIME. He trained and worked as a primary school teacher while writing those books.
HIDING THE PAST is his first novel. He has written another novel of historical fiction, GHOST SWIFTS, BLUE POPPIES AND THE RED STAR. It features Harriet Agnes McDougall, a mother compelled to understand how her middle son, Malcolm, met his death in the Belgian trenches. In 1919, she sets out to retraces his movements.
Goodwin’s books are self-published.
He is a member of the Society of Authors, the Guild of One Name Studies, the Society of Genealogists as well as being a member of the Sussex Family History Group, the Kent Family History Society, the Norfolk Family History Society and the Hastings and Rother Family History Society.
He lives in a Kent village and researches his own family tree, runs, potters in the garden, takes photographs and reads in his spare time.