First Line: Thunderstruck.
Professional genealogist Sophreena McClure is under no illusions: Detective Jennifer Jeffers does not like her. Not one little bit. So Soph is shocked beyond words when Jennie asks her for help in identifying the corpse her father dug up in his backyard.
Word spreads about "the forgotten man" and the glass casket he's buried in, and locals begin leaving mementos for him. When the body of a young woman is found near the memorial, Sophreena and her partner Esme begin to think that this recent murder may very well help them crack the case of the forgotten man.
I have really been enjoying this Family History series by Brynn Bonner. She has a knack for combining characters, mystery, and genealogy into a recipe that I can really sink my teeth into. I like reading books set in the South, and this author is one of the best at depicting the flavor of Southern speech without making it too "cute" (and almost unintelligible).
Sophreena is the level-headed member of this team while Esme is more of the diva. Esme claims to hear voices from "beyond," but if she really does they certainly don't seem to help very much. Usually when Esme imparts one of her messages, it causes Sophreena to lose focus and mentally stub her toe. The fact that Esme is really rocking her inner diva throughout most of Picture Them Dead was a bit of a drag for me, but it's not a deal breaker. Everyone's got someone like Esme in the family. You just cope and adjust.
In each book Bonner shows a different way to learn more about someone's family history, although here we get an added extra about glass caskets as well-- which is probably more fascinating than it sounds. Sophreena gets to search through one of those attic treasure troves we all dream about and then dig through many a dusty land record in order to identify the forgotten man.
Although I found the historical mystery to be more interesting than the present-day crime, Picture Them Dead is another strong entry, and I'm glad that I'm now ready to read the recently released fourth book in the series, Dead in a Flash. Keep them coming!
Picture Them Dead by Brynn Bonner
Pocket Books © 2015
Mass Market Paperback, 336 pages
Cozy Mystery, #3 Family History mystery
Source: Purchased at The Poisoned Pen.