Saturday, November 29, 2008

REVIEW: Killing Cousins

Title: Killing Cousins
Author: Gene Stratton
ISBN: 0916489388/Ancestry Publishing
Protagonist: Mort Sinclair, acclaimed genealogist who's been known to assist the police from time to time
Setting: Fogge Island off the coast of New England
Series: #1
Rating: DNF

First Line: Mortimer Sinclair forced himself to sit patiently on an ancient and very uncomfortable wooden armchair in the busy outer office of Lieutenant Nathaniel Bumpus.

Three people on Fogge Island have been fatally poisoned within the past year. When the sergeant who's in charge of the case discovers that the victims are all related, she convinces her lieutenant to call in Mort Sinclair, a well-known genealogist who's been called to assist on other investigations. Sergeant Booth is convinced that the choice of victims and the killer all has to do with family, and she believes that Sinclair is just the person to shake the trees.

It's odd the knowledge that your hands and fingertips can retain after many years. When I first picked up Killing Cousins, the boards, the binding, the paper all felt very familiar. Then I opened the book and saw "Ancestry Publishing, Salt Lake City, Utah". Of course! The same publisher from whom my mother ordered all the basic genealogy books for the library! I'm a sucker for mysteries with a family history angle, which is why I ordered this from Paperback Swap when I came across the title. It comes complete with maps and family charts, and I settled in for an enjoyable read.

Trouble is, I really didn't find one. After eighty-something pages, I gave up and turned to the back to see if I'd guessed the identity of the killer. I had. Why didn't I finish Killing Cousins? It's not a bad book by any stretch of the imagination. There was just something about the writing style that wasn't my cuppa--possibly too many adjectives and adverbs.

Don't let my abrupt leavetaking of this book turn you off. I'm a moody reader. One thing I can say for it is that, of the mysteries I've read with the same focus on genealogy, Killing Cousins is the first one that truly focused on that particular fine art of detection.


  1. Maybe I shouldn't, but your next to the last paragraph made me laugh out loud. I've been there more than once. Too bad.

  2. I always enjoy a good laugh, so go right ahead! I usually have good karma with the books I choose to read, so the odd clunker doesn't throw me.


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