29 October 2015

Death Becomes Us

Such modern fuss is made regarding Halloween, the eve of All Hallows Day, otherwise known as All Saints Day in the liturgical calendar. Candy and costumes and zombies have taken over. However inclined you feel about the hereafter, the following more inclusive day receives less attention in most quarters: November 2nd ― All Souls Day. I leave you to your own theological convictions or research.

All Souls is a day when I remember, among others, the stars that flashed across the genealogy world's northern firmament. A few were passing acquaintances; most were friends. All had my deepest respect for their contributions to our educational growth, and above all, their warmth and enthusiasm for sharing.

Just some of our Canadian losses since the millennium; spare a thought and/or a prayer?


René Jetté 3 May 1944‒18 May 2003









Danny Johnson 25 August 1953‒22 February 2005








Sandra Devlin 28 November 1946‒1 February 2006







Ryan Taylor 18 June 195025 September 2006










Ken Aitken 1947‒21 April 2007










Paul McGrath 1959‒23 October 2008







Clifford Collier 1929‒21 February 2011










Joan Miller 7 March 1953‒4 January 2013







Brian Gilchrist 7 April 1956‒1 May 2014










Elizabeth Hancocks 1928‒13 February 2015











Otherworldly as they are now, may they be free of age and illness and sorrow. A healthy sense of humour goes hand in hand with the best genealogical minds. They won't mind if I josh a little:
At my age, I'm often asked if I am frightened of death and my reply is always, I can't remember being frightened of birth.
~ Peter Ustinov

Or wax sentimental:
And I believe my voice will sound / Upon the whispering wind / So long as even one remains / Among those I call "friend." ~ Johnny Hathcock


© 2015 Brenda Dougall Merriman



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 fiancée 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