Murder Once Removed

Murder Once Removed

by S. C. Perkins

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Overview

“A terrific series debut!”—BookPage

Except for a good taco, genealogist Lucy Lancaster loves nothing more than tracking down her clients’ long-dead ancestors, and her job has never been so exciting as when she discovers a daguerreotype photograph and a journal proving Austin, Texas, billionaire Gus Halloran’s great-great-grandfather was murdered back in 1849. What’s more, Lucy is able to tell Gus who was responsible for his ancestor’s death. Or so it seems. . .

“A clever page-turner…from the first heart-stopping line to the final conclusion.”—Carolyn Haines, USA Today bestselling author

Using clues from the journal, Lucy narrows the suspects down to two nineteenth-century Texans, one of whom is the ancestor of present-day U.S. senator Daniel Applewhite. But when Gus publicly outs the senator as the descendant of a murderer—with the accidental help of Lucy herself—and her former co-worker is murdered protecting the daguerreotype, Lucy will find that shaking the branches of some family trees proves them to be more twisted and dangerous than she ever thought possible.

“A DELIGHTFUL DEBUT SPICED WITH A TEMPESTUOUS ROMANCE.”?Kirkus Reviews

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781250189035
Publisher: St. Martin''s Publishing Group
Publication date: 03/19/2019
Series: Ancestry Detective , #1
Pages: 336
Sales rank: 130,981
Product dimensions: 5.70(w) x 8.30(h) x 1.50(d)

About the Author

S.C. PERKINS is a fifth-generation Texan who grew up hearing fascinating stories of her ancestry and eating lots of great Tex-Mex, both of which inspired the plot of her debut mystery novel. Murder Once Removed was the winner of the 2017 Malice Domestic Best First Traditional Mystery competition. She resides in Houston and, when she’s not writing or working at her day job, she’s likely outside in the sun, on the beach, or riding horses.

Read an Excerpt

CHAPTER 1

The knife had pierced Seth Halloran's heart, exactly at the spot that would stop it cold. Poor guy would've dropped right where he stood.

I hit speed dial and tucked the phone between my ear and shoulder.

"Got a report for me yet, Lancaster?" Gus asked.

"Our witness," I said, not taking my eyes off the body. "The portrait photographer. He heard yelling and ran to investigate."

"Tell me something I don't know," Gus said.

"I'll do you two better," I replied. "One, the witness finally has an ID. His name's Jeb Inscore."

"Inscore, huh? Not a name you hear often."

I agreed. "Secondly, Jeb hid in a nearby alley, where he saw two unknown men standing over the victim. One of them was holding a knife. Jeb saw blood on it."

"That's not what he said the first time."

"Nope," I said. "At least not on the official record. Gus, this wasn't an accidental death. Seth Halloran was murdered."

Gus snorted, though I knew he was intrigued. Murder had certainly been the rumor. "How do you figure that?"

"Because I have proof," I said. "I found his body."

There was a pause on the other end and I pictured Gus's bushy gray eyebrows dropping into a glower.

"Lucy, what the devil are you talking about? How could you find his body? My great-great-granddaddy Seth died in 1849."

"He was murdered in 1849," I said. "Thanks to Jeb Inscore and his photography skills, I'm looking at a photo that shows us the real truth. Hang on and I'll email you a copy."

CHAPTER 2

"This is why I call my company Ancestry Investigations," I said as I attached two jpeg files to an email and hit send. "Like a detective, I know the truth doesn't die because the person has. You simply have to be good at following the trail — and I'm pretty damn good at it."

Gus said, "Winnie Dell knows I always hire the best, Lancaster, so if she recommended you, I'm hardly surprised you're talented. Now if you're going to keep yapping, tell me how you found this Inscore fellow's photo I'm about to see."

I grinned, moving the phone from my right ear to my left. Dr. Winnie Dell was the curator at the Hamilton American History Center at the University of Texas at Austin and the person to pass along my name to Gus when he was looking for someone to research his family genealogy. Winnie was also my former boss from five years ago, when I worked part-time at the Hamilton Center while studying for my master's degree in information science and honing my lineage-hunting techniques on friends and coworkers. Her recommendation had been an honor, to be sure. Winnie knew more talented genealogists than you could shake a stick at, yet she'd felt I had what it took to work with the patriarch of one of Texas's most powerful families.

"Thirty's still relatively young in the world of professional genealogists," she'd reminded me before my first introduction to Gus, "but you've got both the talent to handle Gus Halloran's project and the personality to handle Gus himself."

When I asked her what she meant by that, Winnie said, "I mean that man is a stubborn, opinionated old coot." Patting her salt-and-pepper bob, she added, "I should know, being a proud old coot myself."

Minutes later, I was holding my hand out to a big bear of a man in a three-piece suit. At seventy-five, Gus still had a full head of gray hair, matching bristly mustache, and dark blue eyes that were hypnotizing in their confidence. It was the stare of a businessman who'd made a lot of money by not being easily impressed. I shook his hand, saying, "It's a pleasure to meet you, Mr. Halloran. I understand you're a stubborn, opinionated old coot."

After a brief moment of shock, he'd roared with laughter, kicking off one of my biggest ancestry projects to date, as well as a lovely grandfather-granddaughter–like friendship.

Though at present, I felt he might disown me if I didn't get on with my explaining.

"Okay," I said, "as you know, the newspaper clipping you showed me said Seth had been trampled to death by a loose draft horse." The yellowed, three-paragraph article from The Western Texan gave the time and date of Seth's demise as the early morning hours of February 17, 1849. The place was Commerce Street, then but a dirt road in the still-young city of San Antonio, Texas.

"My great-great-grandmother never believed that cockamamie story," Gus said. "She went to her grave saying he was murdered."

"We now know Jennie Halloran was right." Mostly, I thought, glancing at another piece of evidence I had yet to reveal. "Regardless, we also know that article called the witness 'a local portrait photographer, aged thirty-six years,' but he was never named outright."

"Always thought that seemed strange," Gus said.

"I did, too, and I'd been wondering ever since if being trampled by a horse in nineteenth-century San Antonio was suspicious enough to have warranted an inquest. You and Phyllis were in Napa when I called you to talk about looking into it further, remember?"

Winnie Dell had encouraged me to ask Gus for permission to keep investigating, reminding me that he had been wanting someone to dig into the mystery his whole life.

Not one to welcome interruption when he and his wife were on vacation, though, Gus had replied, "Lancaster, do whatever you like, and put it on my tab," before hanging up on me.

"Anyhow," I said, "a couple of weeks back, I went to the Archives and requested the Bexar County inquest records for the time period surrounding 1849. The records are on microfilm and it took a while to get them through interlibrary loan, but they came in a few days back."

Austin's Texas State Library and Archives Commission, also known as the Lorenzo de Zavala State Archives and Library Building, was located a couple hundred feet east of the state capitol, and both buildings were within walking distance from my office on Congress Avenue that I shared with two other self-employed friends. The massive federal depository, with its treasure trove of genealogical resources, was so much my second office that I knew many of the staff by name and spent free time there volunteering, helping to organize programs for the public on topics relating to genealogy, history, and historical-documents preservation.

I told Gus, "There was indeed an inquest and Jeb Inscore was listed as the sole witness. He'd even written 'photographer' as his occupation, which sealed it that I'd found the right man. As you mentioned, it's not like the surname Inscore is one you hear of every day, so I took a chance, did my thing, and tracked down his descendants. Two of his great-granddaughters are still alive. One of them, Betty-Anne Inscore-Cooper, is eighty-two and still lives in San Antonio. I called her, explained who I was, what I was researching, and asked if she might be willing to talk to me about her great-grandfather and any stories regarding Seth."

"Initiative!" Gus crowed. "Just what I like to hear."

Oh, yeah. High-five to me! In my mind, I raised my palms overhead and quietly smacked them together.

Betty-Anne Inscore-Cooper had welcomed my initiative as well, saying she'd be honored to tell me about her great-grandpa Jeb.

"If you'd also like to see some of his photographs — the kind where no one is smiling because they're afraid the camera will steal their souls — my hall closet is filled with boxes of them," she'd said with a tinkling laugh. "There's also two more boxes I've never looked through because they'd been stored at my great-aunt Hattie's house until she died, and then with my aunt until she recently passed as well. Would you like to help me go through them? I happen to be free tomorrow, if a Saturday is to your liking. I can make us a nice chicken salad for lunch."

"I love chicken salad, and tomorrow would be perfect. Thank you."

A hint of seriousness then came into her sweet-sounding voice. "Though I have my mah-jongg group at five thirty. We're playing the ladies from the Thousand Oaks Retirement Center and I can't be late. They're some tough old biddies, but none of us need walkers yet. We plan to walk in as a team for that mental edge. Would coming in the morning work for you?"

While I was born with the early-riser genes of my father's side of the family, I'd also gotten a healthy dose of morning grumpiness from my mom's side of the family that made me a less-than-ideal breakfast companion. Still, the ninety-minute drive from Austin to San Antonio, coupled with twenty ounces of something hot and caffeinated, and I'd be ready to take on as many boxes of old photos as Betty-Anne and I could pull out of her closet.

"How does nine A.M. sound?"

Now I was talking to Gus as I sat at Betty-Anne's glass kitchen table on Saturday afternoon. A small plate with the remains of a slice of homemade coffee cake sat next to my laptop on the red-checked cloth placemat. A glass of iced tea was within easy reach, but not where it could accidentally spill on any of the photos and documents that were laid out across the rest of the round table. The mid-October temperatures in San Antonio were still in the high seventies, with pristine blue skies visible out the small bay window behind me. It overlooked a modest grass yard shaded on one side by a huge pecan tree and graced on the other side by a little white gazebo encircled by one last flush of deep-red Chrysler Imperial roses, a handful of which were being cut by Betty-Anne to go in a vase on her coffee table.

Glancing out, I could see her fluffy gray hair lifting slightly with the breeze as she leaned over, colorfully embroidered Mexican dress billowing, to cut another stem. She was a wonderful storyteller and as sweet as I'd imagined, with lovely brown eyes that sparkled when she laughed, and an infectious, impish smile. Proving herself a true Southern grandmother as well, she constantly called me "shug," fed me like I was a starving street urchin, and smelled permanently of Shalimar, leaving behind a gentle waft of it wherever she went.

I'd learned a lot about Betty-Anne's great-grandfather as I helped her organize and catalog the detritus of his life. While the story she knew of Jeb witnessing Seth Halloran's death was as short and unilluminating as expected, I'd soon found that Jeb had left behind an impressive body of photographic work, capturing images of both the citizens of San Antonio and the city itself as it was growing.

I told Gus, "He'd even taken several photos of the Alamo, just a few years after the 1836 battle for Texas's independence had taken place. They're all amazing, truly. I've already talked to Winnie Dell about them and Betty-Anne is letting me bring a few to the Hamilton Center for Winnie to see. I'm hoping she'll think the photos are as special as I do and want the entire collection for an exhibit. Then the whole world will be able to see Jeb's photos, in person or online."

"Yes, yes. Lancaster, you know I would think this was fascinating at any other point ..."

"Getting off topic, got it," I said. "So, early this afternoon Betty-Anne and I finally got to the two boxes that had been at her great-aunt Hattie's. One was full of photos, all small portrait stills of local San Antonians, each in a hinged case that kept out the light. He'd labeled most of them, too, so we know who they are. Anyway, Betty-Anne and I were talking away about little things, like the way the women dressed in the late nineteenth century and how fashion has changed so much over the years, when I pulled out the last case and looked inside. What I saw was ..."

I paused. "Well, you should have it in your email now."

Gus's reply was unintelligible, which meant he was concentrating on peering through his reading glasses at his computer screen. The creaking sound I heard told me he was sitting in his leather office chair on the top floor of the all-glass Halloran Incorporated Building in downtown Austin, where, despite being past normal retirement age, he was still president of the international corporation that bore his family name.

I heard the double click of his mouse, a sharp intake of breath, and a whispered, "Holy blue blazes," as he finally saw the photo of his great-great-grandfather, dead in the San Antonio dirt.

For several long seconds, there was nothing but stunned silence on the other end of the line.

I couldn't believe it. I, Lucy Lancaster, humble genealogist, had rendered speechless one of the wealthiest and most powerful men in Texas.

Hot damn! I did a little happy dance in my chair until Gus clicked on the second file and said, "Lancaster, this wide-shot photo is terrible. The leather frame is clear all right, but this infernal glare on the photo is making it impossible for me to see my great-great-grandfather."

"What you're seeing is the reflection of my camera onto the photo," I explained. "The photograph Jeb Inscore took is called a daguerreotype —"

"Repeat that, will you?" Gus demanded. "It sounded like gobbledygook the first time. Spell it for me, too, so I can write it in my notes."

"Dee-gare-oh-type," I said, emphasizing each syllable before I spelled it out. "Daguerreotypes are known for being incredibly reflective since they were processed onto super-shiny, silver-coated copperplates. It was the most advanced form of photography in the mid-nineteen hundreds, especially for portrait photographers like Jeb Inscore."

"How'd you get the close-up shot, then? It's dang near perfect, no reflection at all."

"I read online to cover a piece of cardboard with a black cloth and cut a hole for my camera lens to go through," I said. "It worked great when I zoomed in, but didn't help at all for the wide shot."

"Interesting," he said, and I knew he meant it. Gus liked learning new information as much as I did. It had been another shared connection we'd discovered once I started working with him.

"The frame you mentioned is actually one of the hinged cases I was telling you about," I continued as I repositioned my cell more securely between my ear and shoulder and put on a pair of white cotton gloves. "They're metal cases covered in leather and the lining is a burgundy-colored velvet. There's also glass covering the photo to keep the air out, and it's sealed with paper tape. Removing the tape and letting in air could cause the daguerreotype to oxidize, so Betty-Anne is letting me take it and the Alamo photos to Winnie. The Hamilton Center has experts in photo restoration to make sure everything will stay in tip-top shape."

Picking up the case, I ran my gloved finger gently over the protective glass and the image of thirty-four-year-old Seth Halloran.

His clear eyes were fixed and ghostlike as they stared lifelessly up to the sky, and his dark coat was flung open, revealing the portion of his white linen shirt over his heart to be ripped and stained with blood. His felt top hat, common for a gentleman of the time, had tumbled down off his head and lay on its side at the edge of the photo. One of his legs was straight while the other was bent at the knee, yet his dark woolen trousers and suspenders were still perfectly in place. Only a small amount of dust had dirtied them.

On the other end of the line, Gus cleared his throat. "Lancaster, this photograph find is exciting, yes, but it doesn't offer a great deal of solid proof that my family's legend of murder was true."

"You're right, Gus. The photo might not be able to prove murder," I said, excitement bubbling in my stomach at getting to reveal my other find, "but Jeb Inscore's journal sure does."

That got me another two full seconds of silence. I was on fire!

"Inscore left behind a diary?"

"He certainly did," I said. "That was what was in the last box belonging to Hattie Inscore, a journal from every year of her father's adult life. They were all the definition of tame, except for the one from 1849. In that one, Jeb explained exactly what he saw that day in February. I'm sending you scans of the journal pages now, but they're a little hard to read, so I'm also sending you the audiobook version."

"The what version?"

"It's my little joke," I said, pulling my iPad onto my lap. "I recorded myself reading the excerpts from Jeb's journal so you can listen to them as well as read them."

Placing my thumb on the tablet's fingerprint-recognizing home button made the screen light up. Barely glancing down, I attached the recordings and hit send.

"They're on their way," I said.

"I'm an impatient man, Lancaster. Give me the gist."

(Continues…)


Excerpted from "Murder Once Removed"
by .
Copyright © 2019 Stephanie C. Perkins.
Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Murder Once Removed 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 12 reviews.
Anonymous 2 days ago
While I do read a diverse selection of mysteries, I try to include ones that have been nominated for (or won) an award by an established literary organization. Usually there's something within the pages that has caught their attention and hopefully mine as well. This novel won the Malice Domestic First Traditional Mystery Award and I easily see why. This was a promising first book and the first one I've read that dealt with the subject of ancestor/ genealogy research, a wildly popular subject these days. The author went to great pains to provide explanations and clarifications of the topic, which was helpful, but only to a point. After awhile, I felt like there was just so much information I could absorb and didn't try to figure it all out. Instead I concentrated on the bigger story and enjoyed it all the more for doing so. Lucy is an engaging main character - yes, she's a bit 2-dimensional as other reviewers have pointed out, but all in all, she's fun, smart and young. Give her (and her creator) a little time to grow. The supporting cast all have their own quirks esp Big who is larger than life and steals every scene he's in. The plot was credible and given the genealogy aspect to the series, there should be plenty of opportunities for future story lines. It was a quick, enjoyable read that I would heartily recommend to others. I look forward to book #2!
bookwomen37 4 months ago
This cozy mystery just did not work for me. I enjoyed the genealogical background. The characters however were just too immature to be taken seriously. They acted like teenagers instead of professional women. The amateur sleuth put herself in danger a lot for no reason. The mystery was very easy to solve. Overall I was disappointed.
BeagleGirl123 5 months ago
I liked it! I really and truly enjoyed this cozy by new author S.C. Perkins. I read Murder Once Removed in a little over a day as it was quite the page turner and I had a hard time putting it down. I learned some very interesting genealogical research tips, was engrossed in the story from start to finish, and even though the reader had an idea who killer was midway through the story, we didn't find out (genealogically, of course!) WHO the killer was and WHY they killed until the end of the story - very nicely done, S.C. Perkins! A+++
Anonymous 5 months ago
This+first+novel+in+this+series+was+very+enjoyable.+I+hadn%27t+read+another+novel+that+had+a+genealogist+as+a+protagonist.+S.+C.+Perkins+brings+great+knowledge+of+the+field+into+this+cozy+mystery.+I+would+recommend+highly%21
arkieclown 11 months ago
MURDER ONCE REMOVED by S.C. Perkins is the first book in the Ancestry Detective series. It’s the story of Lucy Lancaster who owns Ancestry Investigations. She’s a sweet southern gal who is not only very smart but definitely packs a lot of spunk for her petite size. Lucy shares her office space with Josephine Haroldson and Serena Vogel, each with their own companies and her best friends. The story opens with Lucy thinking she is at the end of her assignment of trying to help Gus Halloran trace his family ancestors. In doing so, checking out any records she can find, DNA and official documents, she was to try to figure out if his distant relative, Seth, had indeed been murdered as his wife claimed and if so were any clues to be found as to who did the deed. She presents her finding to Gus showing his family linage and telling him that Seth had been murdered. She also tells him that she has proof thanks to Jeb Inscore who left not only journals behind detailing the murder, but also photographic proof. Lucy is intrigued by information she’s found, but it lead to a possibility of two suspects with the initials C.A. When Gus takes it upon himself to make this information public accusing his son’s political rival as THE C. A., troubles begin and danger lurks. When Dr. Winnie Dell, curator of the Hamilton American History Center at the University of Texas at Austin, and dear friend to Lucy, is murdered after agreeing to help Lucy continue the research to figure out which C. A. really was guilty of murder, Lucy takes the news hard and is more than determined to finish her research and aid in figuring out who murdered her friend. S. C. Perkins, takes us on an exciting roller coaster ride that will have you turning pages and shaking your head. There are clues being uncovered on the murder from 1849 that tie into the murder of Dr. Dell in the present day. We see the showing of supportive friends from Flaco of Big Flaco’s Tacos, who considers Lucy like another daughter (who happens to have a past and evidently enough pull in the present to pull strings) and her roomies who finally find history research fun who are always in Lucy’s corner, to even a feline determined to help the one that feeds him (now known as NPH - Neil Patrick HEROcat). These make the story believable, make your mouth water and even chuckle here and there. There are dangerous attempts to life and limb that will have you sitting on the edge of your seat hoping that the sometimes irritating but rather handsome Special Agent Benton A. Turner (aka Ben or BAT in the Bureau) will show up to save the day. All the while being informative and showing us how to trace a family tree and explaining how clues can be followed up on. There is even a genealogy relationship table in the front of the book that helps explain family linage. I highly recommend MURDER ONCE REMOVED to anyone that loves a great cozy mystery, shaking family trees finding out that all that falls out isn’t always pleasant but still forms who we are, or if you just love a well written, exciting story. I can’t wait for the next book in this series to come out to see what adventures Lucy Lancaster will take us on. It will be exciting to see if there is a future together for Lucy and Ben.
CozyOnUp More than 1 year ago
Cold case, cozy mystery, and history are combined in this new series.  Austin Texas genealogist Lucy Lancaster has a knack for uncovering long hidden details. When her latest client, a successful businessman, hires her to trace his family tree, Lucy discovered that is ancestor was murdered and likely by a family that is still prominent today. As Lucy tries to dig deeper, a good friend is murdered trying to protect the family’s historic pictures and Lucy is determined to solve the case on both fronts to serve justice all around. But will Lucy become another dead branch in her family tree before she can figure out the truth? I say this is more a 3.5 as I had to get about halfway through the book before I became engrossed. Perhaps it was adapting to a new author’s writing style. Perhaps it was just a tad too much genealogical data for me to wrap my head around when I read to relax, and perhaps it was just the writing. But after that halfway mark I was invested and the pace picked up. Will be keeping an eye out for the second book in the series.
PNWBookworm More than 1 year ago
I adored this fresh take on the cozy mystery genre! I haven’t read any other mysteries where the main character is a genealogist and weaves the history of a client into a modern day mystery. In this case it was done superbly and I was hooked right from the start. I loved the weaving of an old family secret, a modern day mystery, and the clues hidden in pieces of history that brought this story together. I also thoroughly enjoyed all of the characters, main and supporting, as well as the writing style and flow of the story. Overall I thought it was fabulous and I am looking forward to book 2 immensely.
jwilhoite211 More than 1 year ago
Lucy Lancaster is a genealogist and a pretty darn good one. She is working with a high-profile client to unlock a mystery of supposed murder that occurred over 100 years ago; while researching she stumbles upon the truth and no someone is out to find the proof to settle a score. This was one of those books that you hate having to put down. I was hooked on this story from page 1 and can't wait to see what Lucy, her friends and neighbors, and the irritating(ly) handsome FBI Agent Ben are up to next. 5 stars I voluntarily reviewed this book on Netgalley. #murderonceremoved #netgalley #scperkins
chefdt More than 1 year ago
Murder Once Removed is the first book in the Ancestry Detective series. I was drawn to this book by the main character’s occupation, that being the researching of family ancestry. I’ve not read any mysteries with this storyline and felt that it would be a nice change from mostly craft cozy’s. It was a most enjoyable story. Lucy Lancaster has been contacted by billionaire Gus Holloran to research the family ancestry so his children and future generation will know their roots. Holloran is also hoping that Lucy might be able to find additional information on the death of Seth Holloran in 1849. From conversations with a grandmother, it seems there was some question as to how Seth had died. It had been listed as an accident, his being run over by wagon drawn by a team of horses. Lucy soon finds that, indeed, Seth had been murdered. She was able to get a picture of Seth’s dead body taken by a portrait photographer, Jeb Inscore, that shows he had died from being stabbed. With the help of a descendant of Inscore Lucy also secures a journal Inscore kept at the time. Lucy soon discovers that it appears that the killer is someone with initials C. A. One of the gentlemen with those initials is Caleb Applewhite, who happens to be the 3 great grandfathers of Daniel Applewhite, current U.S. Senator from Texas. Even though Lucy hasn’t found proof of which C. A. was behind the murder, Holloran, whose son is running Daniel Applewhite for the Senate, announces Lucy findings. Things now start to heat up. The lady that gave the journal and pictures to Lucy experience a break-in at her home, Lucy experiences a break-in at the office she shares with two other ladies. The most upsetting is the murder of Lucy’s mentor Dr. Winnie Dell, curator of the Hamilton American History Center. Lucy had given her some of the pictures so that they could be properly preserved. When FBI Special Agent Benton Turner, Lucy is surprised that the FBI has been called in. Then when he orders her to stay out of any investigations she might be thinking of doing, she is more determined to proceed with her plans to do some sleuthing. I thought the story was well-written and plotted, with an interesting cast of believable characters. I would like to learn more about the characters in future books, particularly the interesting Big Flaco who owns Flaco’s Taco. I will be watching for the next book in this interesting and informative new series.
kimdavishb More than 1 year ago
MURDER ONCE REMOVED is the delightful debut novel by S.C. Perkins and I was fascinated by the premise of this first book in the Ancestry Mystery series! Protagonist, Lucy Lancaster, uses genealogy (combing through websites, library archives and DNA) to solve a long ago murder mystery while tracking down a current day killer. Lucy is the epitome of southern sassiness with a big ol’ side helping of creative intelligence. I adore her interaction with her best friends, Serena and Josephine along with the purported former drug lord turn restaurant owner, Flaco of Big Flaco’s Tacos (whose food descriptions will have you drooling). Their repartee gives opportunities for some humorous one-liners and laugh out loud moments which kept me highly entertained. Ms. Perkins has created great character development and descriptive voice even for minor characters. She effectively uses the flavors of food, language, and the historical sites of Austin to bring the setting to life and make the reader feel like they’re right there. The book grabbed my attention from the very first sentence and kept me glued to the pages. The murder plots from both 1849 and current day are well entwined. I was fascinated with the amount of research the author obviously has done to understand and explain the process of genealogy, without making it complicated for the reader. Ms. Perkins also interjects some interesting history about the State of Texas without detracting from the pace. As the threads of the story are woven together and suspects are considered and then abandoned, Lucy finds herself working with the FBI, particularly a handsome agent who is also a history professor. This is a fun twist to a potential romantic attraction. The exciting reveal was fast paced, keeping me on the edge of my seat, yet never felt rushed. I can’t wait to read the next installment in this well-written debut! I was provided with an advance copy via Netgalley with the hopes I would review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
MusicInPrint More than 1 year ago
Having been a genealogist for many years; this story was great. Research leads to death, cousin connections, romance, and the past effecting the present. Family tree strategy leads answers to a murder committed in the 1840's. Lucy Lancaster races to evaluate the past and help the FBI with a present crime. "A copy of this book was provided by St Martin's Press via Netgalley with no requirements for a review. Comments here are my honest opinion."
KrisAnderson_TAR More than 1 year ago
Murder Once Removed is unique for cozy mysteries. Our main character, Lucy Lancaster is a genealogist who runs a company called Ancestry Investigations. She can uncover your ancestors, provide a family tree, obtain photographs, and so much more (I had no idea). Lucy can provide a beautifully bound book and a website for her clients is they desire. She uses land records, census records, journals, photographs and numerous other resources (there is a veritable font of information available if you know where to look). I would have liked more information on Lucy and for her to come across as a more mature main character (not the best idea to get blotto in front of a client). Though I do find it appealing that she is a Downton Abbey fan. There are two intertwined mysteries in Murder Once Removed. The death of Seth Halloran from 1849 and the current murder of Winnie Dell. I like how the two mysteries relate to each other and that they were wrapped up at the end of the book. There is action as Lucy evades the killer. She asks questions and does research to solve the two crimes. I do wish that the modern mystery had been laid out differently. It is the type that plays out with little opportunity for the reader to solve (which is my favorite part). There is interesting genealogical information and history included in the story (though I am still baffled by the once removed—there is a handy chart included). Special Agent Ben Turner was an interesting, handsome and charming character. His history background gives him plenty in common with Lucy who finds him attractive. There were sparks flying between the pair. I liked the humorous dialogue between them at the end (made me laugh). Murder Once Removed is an enticing new cozy mystery that will appeal to the history and genealogy enthusiasts.