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Fatal Family Ties–genealogy mystery

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Fatal Family Ties

by S.C. Perkins

Lucy is a genealogist with her own business in Austin. She is tracked down at lunch by Camilla Braithwaite, one of her “three least-favorite former coworkers” at a job she held four years prior at Howland University Library in Houston. She wants Lucy to disprove an article written in Chronology magazine about her ancestor Charles Edward Braithwaite who is accused of being “a coward, a deserter, and a charlatan.”

This project turns out to be a complicated task because records from the Civil War, especially from the Confederate army, are scarce, incomplete, and often inaccurate. Lucy’s expertise is just what this job requires. It is complicated further by a mysterious triptych and the sudden death of Camilla’s Uncle Charlie who was like a grandfather to her. He and Camilla each own a panel from the art set and no one seems to know who inherited the third panel.

Fortunately, as things get dangerous, Lucy’s boyfriend, Special Agent Ben Turner of the FBI, has most of a week off. His concealed carry license, law enforcement connections, and special training help keep Lucy safe. Her associations with the art restoration world through her college friend Helen help Lucy solve the murder and the triptych mystery.

I liked all the positive characters and enjoyed watching Lucy solve this puzzling case. The “mean girls” were clearly not going to give anyone warm fuzzies, but the author did not portray them in black and white terms. There was room for growth and self-realization for two of them. Suspicion landed on various characters and the ending was a surprise. My favorite minor character was Lucy’s mom. I particularly enjoyed the way she interacted with an elderly neighbor known for her grumpiness.
Genealogy is a field that has always confused me with phrases like “second cousin twice removed on your mother’s side.” Fatal Family Ties is dependent on those relationships, but I could follow the reasoning. Lucy even explains that the term “great aunt” instead of “grandaunt” is, in fact, confusing as it does not follow the established language pattern. That made me feel better! You can learn about genealogy and its importance through this book, but it is never pedantic.

I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

Rating: 4/5

Category: Mystery

Notes: #3 in the Ancestry Detective Series, but can be read as a standalone. There is not a lot of personal character backstory to catch up on. The current mystery is the focus.

Publication: July 20, 2021—St. Martin’s Press (Minotaur)

Memorable Lines:

I certainly understood Camilla’s stress, and I had immense sympathy, but I didn’t need the attitude. If I was going to be snapped at, I deserved carbs.

“Wonders will never cease,” Mom said, and I smiled at her. I always loved how she said it as a statement she was stubbornly sure of rather than posing it as the traditional sarcastically surprised question.

“Though one thing you don’t need to change, Lucy, is your willingness to give people second chances. Too few people are open like that these days. Don’t give it up, okay?”


  1. WendyW says:

    I like when a mystery ends in a surprise. This sounds interesting as it also explore genealogy.

    Liked by 1 person

    • lghiggins says:

      When I read the first one in the series, I wondered how a cozy mystery could involve genealogy, but the author does it quite effectively, and I keep coming back for more.


  2. This is very appealing to me, and I would enjoy the explanation of genealogy and confusing terms!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Carla says:

    I have this series on my TBR, so thanks for the reminder, Linda. I need to pick the first one up. I love the sound of this book, and the geneaology theme.

    Liked by 1 person

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