26 October 2015

Book: The America Ground

Nathan Dylan Goodwin. The America Ground. 2015 [Orders: nathandylangoodwin.com]

Goodwin has settled with mature polish into his lead character, this being the third book in the "Morton Farrier, Forensic Genealogist" series. For an earlier review, see here. The author chose a little-known (to North Americans) historical Sussex setting for the background of Morton's latest case. Hired by a flamboyant antiques dealer, his job is to uncover the story behind the painting of a woman who was murdered in 1827. Dual narratives follow events in Eliza Lovekin's life and Morton's own search for his biological father. For good reason Morton must keep secrets from his fiancĂ©e Juliette, the police constable; as Eliza's story unfolds, present-day danger rears its ugly head. Our hero needs to learn ‒ fast ‒ who is threatening him and why.

Be prepared for a vivid stay in the 1820s Hastings area; the injustices of nineteenth-century poverty are deftly portrayed. Nonetheless, it's thoroughly engaging from start to finish, replete with a twisting genealogical trail and well-calculated (sometimes sinister) surprises. The research methodology is true to life, albeit Juliette often finds him with a bandage on his head. I do find the pages very dense with long paragraphs and normally no half-space between them. The only thing the insatiable sleuth-reader might request would have been a local map. Attractive covers, excellent pacing between narratives; all in all, a very fine job. The fan club is growing!

Self-published, the book is available in paper or e-book editions. Goodwin does fairly aggressive marketing for his works, so I may be preaching to the choir.

Excerpt:
Juliette flashed awake and shot a disbelieving look at him. "Here? Hastings? This is where you've brought me for two nights away?" 
"Nice, isn't it?" Morton said, drawing into a parking space at the rear of the hotel."Are you actually joking?" she asked. 
Morton shook his head. 
"Why here?" 
"I just wanted to get away, plus I've got a ton of research to do in town so I just thought it would be nice to have a couple of nights in a hotel." 
He made more of a meal parking her car than was strictly necessary, so that he could avoid her penetrating gaze as she attempted to work him out. 
"Why didn't we just stay at your dad's house, then?" 
He turned and gave her an I can't believe you just said that look. 
She sighed. "And why's she coming with us?" Juliette asked, turning behind her to face Eliza Lovekin's portrait. 
"She fancied a break, too," he quipped. (188)

© 2015 Brenda Dougall Merriman



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