Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book to review.
Author Nathan Dylan Goodwin was at RootsTech 2018 and I met him briefly while perusing the vendors in the Exhibit Hall. I didn’t realize it at the time, but I already had one of his books on my iPad – The Missing Man – and had read it while on vacation.
Normally, my favorite reads are non-fiction, but when I came across this genealogical mystery, I couldn’t pass it up. It wasn’t until I was offered the opportunity to review Hiding the Past, the first book in the series, that I realized I had previously met Morton Farrier!
There aren’t many authors out there with both traditional degrees (B.A. in Radio, Film and Television and M.A. in Creative Writing ) along with membership in the Society of Authors and who also have a keen interest in genealogical research, but Nathan is one of that select group. His formal training and genealogical interests make him a skilled storyteller.
Hiding the Past introduces us to Morton Farrier, a highly regarded forensic genealogist, who receives the commission of his life from one Peter Coldrick, a man with a very mysterious past.
Coldrick hires Mr. Farrier to uncover his family background and pays quite a substantial advance to begin the job. However, Coldrick dies under odd circumstances that very day. Farrier decides to carry on with the project in spite of his employer’s death and leads us down a path fraught with danger, pretty much from the outset.
The story, told both in present time and through the use of flashbacks from the wartime England, unfolds, leading the reader down a tricky path of clues. I thought I had the story line all figured out, but there was a surprising twist near the end, which took the outcome away from what appeared to be a foregone conclusion.
As I mentioned earlier, non-fiction is my preferred reading genre, but I have to admit that once I read the first page of Hiding the Past, it was impossible to put down and I finished the entire 212-page book in one day. I also think that many genealogists, including myself, secretly dream of being forensic genealogists, but Morton Farrier allows us to live vicariously through his own escapades. I will definitely be reading the other books in this series!
I’m not going to divulge any more of the plot line – you’ll need to read the story yourself – but Nathan Dylan Goodwin is a very talented writer. While the novel is an easy read, that doesn’t mean the story line is simply presented. It is actually quite complex, full of imagery, danger and intrigue that paints an extremely detailed picture of Morton Farrier, Peter Coldrick and their newly intertwined lives. Mr. Farrier has genealogical issues affecting his own life, as well, which are introduced in this first novel.
It so happens that the Coldrick case takes place mostly in Rye, Sussex, England and nearby towns. I particularly appreciated the setting, as I’ve been lucky enough to visit Rye and didn’t need much imagination to watch Morton Farrier as he traveled from place to place, uncovering clues with each visit.
I highly recommend not only Hiding the Past, but the entire genealogical mystery series, currently five novels, two novellas and a short story. The books are available in paper copy, as an audio book and in e-book format not only in English, but also in Spanish and German! If you are a fan of English history, be sure to check out Nathan’s four non-fiction works, centered around Hastings, England. Visit Nathan Dylan Goodwin’s website for further information.
I don’t know if Mr. Goodwin pans to attend RootsTech 2019, but, if he does, it’s only a short plane ride to Tucson. I’ve encouraged him to visit Tucson’s 2019 Festival of Books, coincidentally held in March a few days after the close of RootsTech at the University of Arizona, and hope that he will be one of next year’s presenting authors.