Saturday, September 15, 2018

Review: Letters From the Dead by Steve Robinson

Letters From the Dead (Jefferson Tayte Genealogical Mystery, Book #7)
by Steve Robinson
Release Date: August 14th 2018
2018 Thomas & Mercer
Kindle Edition; 348 Pages
ISBN: 978-1503903104
Genre: Fiction / Mystery
Source: Review copy from publisher

4 / 5 Stars


When genealogist Jefferson Tayte is hired to prove the identity of a black sheep in his client’s family tree, he unwillingly finds himself drawn into a murder investigation with nothing more to go on than a 150-year-old letter and a connection to a legendary ruby that has been missing for generations.

As more letters are mysteriously left for him, Tayte becomes immersed in a centuries-old tale of greed, murder and forbidden love that takes his research from the wilds of the Scottish Highlands to the colour and heat of colonial India.

A dark secret is buried in Jaipur, steeped in treachery and scandal. But why is it having such deadly repercussions in the present? Can Tayte find the ruby and prevent the past from repeating itself before it’s too late?

My Thoughts
Letters From the Dead is the seventh book in the Jefferson Tayte Genealogical Mystery series and is rather intriguing; Tayte accepts an invitation to research the lineage of a client's patriarchal line, but must go to Scotland and reside in an old castle in order to do so as all of the family's papers and research history resides there.  Naturally, put the words 'old castle' and 'mystery' together and you've already got me hooked as I love that kind of thing.

The story is actually told in two alternating story lines; one in the present featuring Tayte, his research, and the current mystery and then you have the second story line taking place in the early 1800s in India, the story behind the letters that Tayte kept receiving in order to help with his research.  I love alternating story lines, if they're done well, and these two meshed seamlessly, woven into the story quite brilliantly.  I don't want to mention how as it is part of the mystery of the story, but it worked rather well and I enjoyed the way it was done.  While the story line from India was rather predictable and easy to figure out, it was still enjoyable.  It was the present story line, featuring Tayte, that I thought was predictable, but turned out to have one rather huge twist that actually caught me off guard, pleasantly so.  I love it when an author can do that to a reader.  

As always, Tayte is a favourite of mine and I have enjoyed his personality and character through all of the books, including this one.  He is married now, with a child, which adds a different element to his life, although neither really featured much in this novel.  Sinclair, the owner of the castle, was a bit mysterious, but was an enjoyable character, one I had a hard time figuring out.  But it was Murray, the live-in companion/helper/do-it-all person to Sinclair that I really enjoyed.  He was mysterious, but in a nice way, and I really enjoyed his personality and his quirks.  I understood how Tayte became suspicious of both of them during his investigation, and became rather guarded in the information he shared; he did have to protect himself, after all.  It just added another element to the story and made it that much more interesting.  After all, who do you trust when there is a big ruby in the mix of the investigation and people keep getting murdered around you?  I think I would have felt the same way as Tayte.

Letters From the Dead was another enjoyable entry to this series.  The book was dramatic, there was a rather intriguing puzzle to solve with clues left for Tayte in rather mysterious circumstances, intriguing and likeable characters, and a double story line that I rather liked. As always, the author has a way of drawing you in to the story and I stayed up way too late finishing this book.  To be honest though, compared to the other books in the series, I did think it was one of the weaker ones, but that didn't make it less enjoyable.  And while it could be read on its own, I do recommend you start at the beginning just to get an idea of why Tayte is in the position he is in as it is not explained but assumed.  I recommend the series to anyone who is interested in genealogical mysteries.