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Jefferson Tayte Genealogical, Book 1
Description⎮Reviewed May 2018
Narrator: Simon Vance
Length: 10 hours 56 minutes
Publisher: Brilliance Audio⎮2014
Synopsis: Two hundred years ago a loyalist family fled to England to escape the American War of Independence and seemingly vanished into thin air. American genealogist Jefferson Tayte is hired to find out what happened, but it soon becomes apparent that a calculated killer is out to stop him.
In the Blood combines a centuries-old mystery with a present-day thriller that brings two people from opposite sides of the Atlantic together to uncover a series of carefully hidden crimes. Tayte’s research centres around the tragic life of a young Cornish girl, a writing box, and the discovery of a dark secret that he believes will lead him to the family he is looking for. Trouble is, someone else is looking for the same answers and will stop at nothing to find them.
In the Blood is the first in the Jefferson Tayte mystery series.
4.5★ Audiobook⎮Genealogy probably seems like just about the mildest thing anyone could do…unless they are Jefferson Tayte. As soon as I read that In the Blood was a genealogical mystery series, I immediately purchased the first two installments. Now, I never download the second installment in a series until I’m certain that I like the first. There have been times when I’ve downloaded sequels within 5 or 10 minutes of starting a series, but this was a first. Sure, it was a gamble. But it just so happened to pay off.
I had never before heard of Steve Robinson, but I like his style of writing. It gives off a Dan Brown vibe that I really dig. This mystery was so layered, that it was almost hard to follow at times. But I can’t even complain about it, because that’s exactly how genealogy is. I credit my awesome amateur detective skills to the loads of genealogy research I’ve done over the past two decades (I’m not old, I just started young). So I know that there is a fine line between Genealogist and Private Investigator. I think most people probably overlook that and automatically write off genealogists as “nerds” instead badass detectives.
Jefferson Tayte is such an Indiana Jones. He’s really likable and has his own slow cooking identity plot just sitting on the back burner. He’s adopted and has no idea who his real family is and I need to know now! Besides having a really cool name, Tayte was a pretty likable protagonist. There were only one or two times when I was like “What are you thinking?!”. For the most part, his actions were plausible enough. He would throw around just enough genealogy terms to feed my inner geek.
The one thing I did wish, however, was that In the Blood had come with a family tree. I know I’ve said that before, but of all the audiobooks to have an accompanying family tree PDF, this should have been the one. It’s about genealogy, for crying out loud. As it was, I managed to sketch out my own based on the information gradually given. That helped my understanding of the intertwining plots tremendously. It felt like untangling a bundle of cords. Plus, it was way fun. I love genealogy.
The only bits I didn’t really care for were the alternating POV chapters. One chapter would take place in the 21st century and the next in the 18th. On top of everything else, it became very confusing and hard to follow along with. What really bothered me was that there was no basis for the time jumps. Sometimes, Tayte would be reading from a journal or letter, but usually the new chapters would just take the listener back in time without much premise, which required some suspension of disbelief. Having already begun the second installment, I can see that this is something Robinson will do in each book.
However, the mystery in In the Blood was fantastic. It kept me guessing until the end. There was nothing obvious about it at all. You start on the surface with Jefferson and dig deeper and deeper until you’re all wound up in a tangled knot. That’s exactly how real genealogy is. It’s not just about names on paper. Each of those names was a person with a life and secrets, connecting to all of these other family members, with their own lives and secrets. So, even if you start out trying to answer one particular question, a dozen more questions pop up before you ever find your first answer. Honestly, I’m amazed that Robinson was able to tie up the loose ends so nicely.
Narration review: I’ve heard of Simon Vance, but I’ve never heard him perform until now. Overall, I was very impressed with his performance and I’m satisfied that he’s reading the rest of the series. He appropriately differentiates between characters, even if the differentiations are sometimes a little off. I don’t particularly care for the way he voices female characters because they don’t sound obviously female. But I do love that he narrates the story with an English accent, but voices the main character as an American. It perfectly demonstrates that Jefferson Tayte is an American abroad. ♣︎