Monday, July 19, 2021

Fatal Family Ties by S.C. Perkins

First Line: I was angling my taco toward my mouth with the speed of the ravenous when a voice made me nearly fall off my barstool.
When Camilla Braithwaite tracks Lucy Lancaster down at her favorite Austin restaurant and asks for her help, the normally sunny dispositioned Lucy doesn't jump at the chance. You see, Camilla was one of three women who made her life miserable at her former job. Memories like that don't just fade away.
Lucy would prefer to spend her time with Ben, an agent with the FBI, but the lure of proving a magazine article wrong about Camilla's Civil War veteran ancestor is too irresistible.
One of the first things Camilla does is to take Lucy to the Texas History Museum and the exhibit on her Civil War veteran ancestor. That's when Lucy learns about a triptych painting that the man did, and which has been passed down in the family through the generations. One of the panels is missing, but Camilla takes Lucy to see the one in her uncle's possession-- and that visit is a catalyst for calamity. A member of the Braithwaite family is found murdered and another panel of the painting disappears. Something's wrong here, and Lucy Lancaster, ancestry detective, will not rest until she finds out what it is.
Whenever I need a change from the grittier mysteries and thrillers that I read, there are a few cozy series that I enjoy, and S.C. Perkins' Ancestry Detective mysteries are right at the top of my list. Fatal Family Ties is the excellent third entry in a series that doesn't show any signs of slowing down.
The mystery is a good one. The bad guys are rather easy to pick out of a lineup, but why they're working together and how is what really fuels the mystery. The other thing that puts the zing into sleuthing is the historical tidbits that Perkins adds-- how tricky it can be to decipher Civil War military records, for example, or the burial practices involving soldiers. (Now, that last one may seem morbid to some, but it is important to the plot, and I found it interesting because one of my ancestors died in battle in Tennessee and his body had to be transported to southern Illinois.) There's also a bit of art restoration in Fatal Family Ties, which I always find fascinating.

But of course, when you talk cozies, you've got to talk character because the characters are what bind everything together. I really like Lucy Lancaster, her friendly, open disposition, her willingness to help others, her passion and talent for her work. She listens to and works with the police-- not against them-- and she never intentionally does anything dangerous or stupid. It doesn't hurt that her boyfriend, Ben Turner, is an FBI agent, and it also doesn't hurt that Ben realizes she has a talent for rooting out important clues. Besides a smart, handsome boyfriend, Lucy also has two great friends, a supportive family, and a grandfather who was a spy and has a penchant for terrific neckties. 

If you're in the mood for a mystery that involves some history and a little art theft, a mystery that's full of good people doing the right thing for the right reasons, a mystery that can make you smile and just plain feel good, pick up Fatal Family Ties. It can be read as a standalone, but don't be surprised if you find yourself looking for the other two, Murder Once Removed and Lineage Most Lethal.

Fatal Family Ties by S.C. Perkins
eISBN: 9781250789655
Minotaur Books © 2021
eBook, 320 pages
Cozy Mystery, #3 Ancestry Detective mystery
Rating: A
Source: Net Galley


  1. The history aspect of this one got my attention, Cathy. I like learning about history, and ancestry can be really interesting. And sometimes, a feel-good mystery is just what's needed...

  2. I'm always up for a little art theft in a book. And Lucy and Ben do sound like great characters. :)

  3. An ancestry detective sounds much better than a genealogist. Disappearing panels from the Civil War period also sound interesting.

    1. I had to laugh because I was watching an episode of Forensic Files II the other night when a police officer said that genealogists make some of the best detectives out there. He was right!

  4. Replies
    1. Good! I hope you get a chance to read and enjoy.


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