I'd be wondering, too, if someone had a gun aimed at me. Five days before, Tayte's client in Washington, DC, had received an old child-sized suitcase, and this is what led the genealogist to board a plane for England. In order to reunite his client with her birth mother, Jefferson Tayte is going to need all his skill in digging through old records and family secrets to find Mena Lasseter.
Mena was a typical teenage girl who wanted adventure and romance and found both with one of the American soldiers of the 82nd Airborne stationed within a bicycle ride of her home in Leicestershire. As Tayte tries to find out what became of her, he discovers that he's not the only one looking for Mena. Somehow this young girl holds the key to a secret worth killing for.
Steve Robinson's books just keep getting better. Inspired by his own family history, To the Grave is told in alternating chapters and time frames. In the here and now, we watch Jefferson Tayte as he wades through old documents and speaks to as many of Mena's family members and contemporaries as he can. As interesting as Tayte's chapters are, I was quickly hooked by young Mena's story during World War II. Mena's smart and good-hearted, but her family life leaves much to be desired. Her mother is judgmental, cruel, and completely immersed in her religion. Her father is a very loving but passive man who's learned to survive with a modicum of peace by letting his wife have total control over the household. Mena's older sister is already doing her bit for the war effort, and Mena wants to do hers, too-- especially since that would mean she gets to escape the oppressive atmosphere at home.
So many mysteries center around long-buried secrets that genealogists make perfect sleuths. It's refreshing to watch someone solve a crime by researching old documents and talking to the elderly rather than with guns, handcuffs, and forensics. Jefferson Tayte still manages to find more than his share of danger, but he's learned from his experiences in the first book. (Oh oh. I mentioned the first book in the series. Do you have to read it in order to make sense of this book? Absolutely not. To the Grave stands alone very well.) What I found exceptionally well done was Mena's story. Robinson made that era come to life, and I almost regretted the times when the action switched back to Tayte.
After reading To the Grave, I'm really looking forward to the next book, The Last Queen of England. I wonder if I can sign on as Jefferson Tayte's research assistant?
To the Grave by Steve Robinson
FeedaRead.com © 2012
Paperback, 262 pages
Amateur Sleuth, #2 Jefferson Tayte mystery
Source: Purchased as Kindle eBook through Amazon