Former police detective turned genealogical investigator Jayne Sinclair is commissioned by a young teacher to look into the history of his family. Outside of a few names, he has only two bits of information to give her: a medallion with purple, white and green ribbons, and an old drawing of a young woman. Jayne has to work fast because there is a time limit on this investigation-- the young teacher wants to know if he is the heir to a fortune that is about to become forfeit to the Crown.
Even though her marriage is crumbling before her eyes, Jayne is compelled to investigate and finds herself mired in the trenches of World War I-- all because of one brave woman forced to live most of her life in an asylum. And it doesn't take her long to realize that there are people who don't want these secrets brought into the light.
As much as I enjoyed the first book in this series, The Irish Inheritance, The Somme Legacy is even better. This second book makes for compulsive reading. Not only does it have a moving love story, in its dual timelines (1916 and 2016) the author gives us a real taste of life during World War I both in the trenches and in hospitals and homes away from the front lines. The history of the suffragettes is also touched upon, and Lee successfully manages to weave all this history into his story without dulling it or slowing the pace. He also creates some memorable characters. Rose will stay with me for a long time, and Herbert Small and the Russell family are the sort of villains that readers love to hate.
Rose's life as a suffragette and as a woman forced to live out her life in an asylum is the beacon in The Somme Legacy. As Jane learns Rose's story, she refuses to give up her search for the truth-- Rose's truth-- that everyone refused to believe a century ago. Rose's plight also shows how having a person declared insane can completely change the dynamics of a family with lasting effects even a century later.
Jayne's investigation is fascinating. Yes, readers learn about inheritance laws in the UK, but it's how she methodically works to track down the missing documents she needs that draws readers ever deeper into the story. Her job is an extremely difficult one because-- unbeknownst to her, an obstacle course has been deliberately set up so that she will fail. With my sympathies firmly for Rose, M.J. Lee certainly had me cheering on Jayne Sinclair as she works against the clock to prove Rose was right.
Jayne's background as a police officer helps her in more ways than one-- even providing a needed bit of humor now and again. With this second book being even better than the first, I can't wait to get my hands on the third-- The American Candidate!
The Somme Legacy by M.J. Lee
Amazon Digital Services LLC © 2017
eBook, 376 pages
Amateur Sleuth, #2 Jayne Sinclair Genealogical Mystery
Source: Purchased from Amazon.