Series: Genealogical Crime Mystery #4
Format Read: Kindle book
Challenges: COYER NetGalley & Edelweiss Reading Challenge
Source: the publisher in exchange for an honest review
Release Date: October 21, 2014
Buying Links: Amazon* | Book Depository* | Barnes & Noble |
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Blurb from goodreads:
From acclaimed author Steve Robinson comes a bold new Jefferson Tayte mystery. On a foggy night in 1914, the ocean liner Empress of Ireland sank en route to England and now lies at the bottom of Canada’s St Lawrence River. The disaster saw a loss of life comparable to the Titanic and the Lusitania, and yet her tragedy has been forgotten.
When genealogist Jefferson Tayte is shown a locket belonging to one of the Empress’s victims, a British admiral’s daughter named Alice Stilwell, he must travel to England to understand the course of events that led to her death. Tayte is expert in tracking killers across centuries. In 'The Lost Empress,' his unique talents draw him to one of the greatest tragedies in maritime history as he unravels the truth behind Alice’s death amidst a backdrop of pre-WWI espionage. This is the fourth book in the Jefferson Tayte mystery series but can be enjoyed as a stand-alone story.
This was my first time reading a book in this series but I had no trouble jumping in at book four. Each mystery is discrete and self-contained with not a lot of info or story about out main character, Tayte. I fact, that's one of my complaints; we don't get enough about Tayte. I don't really feel as if I know him any better by the end of the story. We're given little hints about a mysterious background but they weren't quite enough to whet my appetite, more enough to irritate me with the lack of information and development. On the plus side, the focus of the story is on the mystery - determining whether American Alice Dixon was also British Alice Stilwell, who supposedly died when the Empress of Ireland sank.
The story alternated between being told from Alice Stilwell's POV in the early 1900s and Tayte's POV in the present day. Robinson weaves in history, genealogy, war, family drama, and romance. Alice's story lured me in and kept me reading. She faced some difficult decisions with little guidance and I felt for her even as I disagreed with her choices. She was likable, caring, naive, and loving, and Robinson's research showed clearly while never overtaking the story. I hadn't heard of the Empress before or her sinking but as Tayte said it got lost between the disaster of the Titanic and the start of the first World War.
In the present, Tayte is looking for links between the two Alices and finds himself embroiled in a current murder mystery. The victim is a relative of the late Alice Stilwell so Tayte's attention is immediately grabbed. Add in the vicious reception he gets from Alice's current day relatives and he's like a grey hound after a rabbit - he won't stop until he solves the various mysteries, old and new. Parts of this story were predictable and parts took me completely by surprise. In the 1914 mystery, I did figure out the villain early on, it was simply too obvious. But the modern day villains took me mostly by surprise and I like being surprised. Actually, the resolution and reveal reminded a bit of classic Dick Francis and that did take me by surprise, in a good way.
"The Lost Empress" kept me reading, I cared about Alice and wanted a different ending for her. Tayte was mildly interesting but I did enjoy learning about genealogical research. I will probably read more in the series.