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Murder Once Removed

by S.C. Perkins
Minotaur Books, March 2019, $26.99

While tracing the family tree of a prominent Austin, Texas, family, genealogist Lucy Lancaster of Ancestry Investigations accidentally uncovers proof that her client’s great-great grandfather’s suspicious death was indeed murder. The clues point to a rival and equally prestigious Texas family as the perpetrator and Lucy starts digging into the past with her client’s blessing. With only a few clues to follow, she enlists the help of University of Texas historical preservationist, former boss, and friend Dr. Winnie Dell to help investigate. But when Winnie is brutally murdered, her office ransacked, and all the artifacts stolen, it’s crystal clear that someone will stop at nothing—not even murder—to keep something from the past hidden. Lucy knows she should let the local authorities and the handsome FBI agent (who keeps showing up like a bad penny), handle it at this point, but now it’s personal.

S.C. Perkins gives “getting to the root of the problem”—in this case a murder or two—a whole new meaning with her sophisticated and well-plotted Texas-set and -sized debut in her new Ancestry Detective series. Lucy is the cream of the protagonist’s crop; she’s smart, funny, spunky, compassionate, truehearted, and a passionate wagon-circling friend. The banter and chemistry between her and Ben, the sexy FBI agent, is swoon-worthy and will have readers salivating to see just where this attraction goes in future installments. But all of her characters, from the smallest cameos to the stars, are well developed.

With genealogy being all the rage thanks to sites like 23andMe and, it’s a clever trope and captivating read. It’s a a bit darker than your usual cozy, but not quite a thriller. Readers be warned: pay close attention to the genealogical clues or some pertinent information may be missed. Fans of series by Faye Kellerman, Deborah Crombie, and Rhys Bowen will love this book.

Debbie Haupt
Teri Duerr
March 2019
Minotaur Books