06 June 2018

Book: The Wicked Trade

Nathan Dylan Goodwin. The Wicked Trade. Self-published, 2018.
Goodwin scores again in the seventh of his Morton Farrier, Forensic Genealogist series. Possibly his most interesting case yet begins with Arthur Fothergill who wants to learn more about a formative period in the life of his great-grandmother Ann Fothergill. Even more important, who fathered her son? Arthur knows from family papers and an old newspaper source that by 1820, young Ann was living a reprehensible life in and out of prison for petty crimes. 

Morton's own bizarre family story continues to unfold. His daughter Grace turns one year old, the occasion for overseas visitors and the first meeting in forty years of Morton's biological parents. Some bafflement on my part: Why did Morton haul out Jack's old love letters to Margaret in front of everyone, letters that Margaret had never seen before? Insensitive and out of character, I thought. The DNA evidence of paternity was rather fuzzy since one of Ann's lovers died without issue; how did the use of online family trees and Lost Cousins prove the father of Ann's son (only a family historian would question this!). Nevertheless, Goodwin and Morton do lively and engaging work pulling off surprises here.

Family historians have built a healthy fan base for the Morton Farrier books but they appeal to an even wider interest in crime fiction. How about a couple of extracts to tease your appetite? ...

Ann nodded. "What say ‒ quitter for quatter, like ‒ that I not be moving on tomorrow and be lodging here a while longer? Happen, then, I be forgetting all about men that pay you in the night time."Hester's narrowed eyes displayed such bilious anger. Short snorts of air fumed from her nostrils, as, with hands on her hips, she contemplated Ann's threat.Ann stretched exaggeratedly, as though she had all the time in the world to wait for Hester's decision. In her peripheral vision she spotted movement outside. Sam was walking the path to the house. Ann danced her way to the door and pulled it open. "Sam, what a delight. We be just talking about you.""What grabby weather," Sam complained, removing his boots, shooting curious looks between the two women. (103)

Morton took several photographs of the occasion, very keen to immortalise the day forever. He then handed the camera to Lucy and asked her to photograph the family group. Switching to playback, he zoomed in to the image. In the centre were he, Juliette and Grace, a scene of relative normality. Beside Juliette was her mother, Margot. The further he pulled out of the picture, the more bonkers it became: his American biological father with his wife; his biological mother (who was also his adoptive aunt) with her husband; his half-brother Jeremy (who was actually biologically his cousin, and yet more familial to him than his actual half-brother, George, who was at the edge of the image, frowning) and his Australian husband; and finally, his deceased adoptive father's fiancée, Madge.A perfectly normal family. (208)

You can find out more about The Wicked Trade and other books on Goodwin's website:; orders for paper, audio, or e-book versions will go through Amazon.

© 2018 Brenda Dougall Merriman

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