Brand New: The Chester Creek Murders by Nathan Dylan Goodwin: Book Review

DISCLAIMER: Although I have received some complimentary copies of Nathan Dylan Goodwin’s books, I have purchased most of them. My reviews of his books are my own opinion!

Nathan Dylan Goodwin has a new book hot off the press! When I say hot, I mean HOT, as today is the first day in which it can be downloaded and read.

I have to admit that I wasn’t sure what to expect with The Chester Creek Murders, which is the first book in a new genetic genealogy mystery series – Venator Cold Case Series Book 1.

I have grown quite fond of Morton Farrier, forensic genealogist extraordinaire, and the star of most of Nathan’s previous books. However, Morton, living in the UK,  is nowhere to be found in The Chester Creek Murders, which takes place in the US.

Instead , the main character is Madison Scott-Barnhart, or Maddie as she is known, a friend of Morton’s who lives in Utah, but who also takes on difficult-to-solve genealogical mystery cases.

Maddie’s specialty involves the use of modern DNA techniques to solve criminal cold cases. Venator is the company founded by Maddie and based in Salt Lake City; it accepts cold cases referred by police departments from around the United States.

Maddie has a skilled team working with her – Ross, Kenyatta, Becky and Hudson, each with specialized skills in the field of investigative genetic genealogy.

We are introduced to Maddie and her team through Detective Clayton Tyler of Chester County, Pennsylvania, located in the southeastern corner of the state, not far from Philadelphia.

Maddie has agreed to take on his early 1980s cold case involving the murders of three young women whose bodies were found dumped in Chester Creek.

The general format and structure of The Chester Creek Murders is similar to the author’s other stories, with important case details being explained to the reader through the use of flashbacks.

Suffice it to say that Venator brings the murder case to a successful conclusion.

What I really liked about the story was that it provides a realistic view of the detailed analysis and plain old slogging work that goes into solving a cold case through genetic genealogy. It is a fascinating look at how investigators like CeCe Moore would solve real life cases.

DNA evidence alone doesn’t solve cold cases. Investigators must combine that evidence with genealogical research, building trees up and down generations to find relatives in common with suspects.

A foundation of knowledge about genetic genealogy has been established in this story and, as this is the first book in a new series, future readers who don’t understand the basics about how this type of research happens should read this book to stay up to speed on the progress of future cases.

While Goodwin’s earlier Morton Farrier stories have twists and turns woven throughout with perhaps one tangential subplot, The Chester Creek Murders has the stage set for multiple subplots.

Most of the action in the primary plot – identifying the Chester Creek killer – happened at computer keyboards or in walks up the street to the Family History Library.

The subplots provided the story action outside Venator’s office and the library:

Maddie’s husband has been missing for five years, Kenyatta’s off-work passion is solving cases involving missing boys and working with the homeless, Hudson gets caught up in an independent cold case for which he has been paid a lot of money and Beth is worried about past suspicious activities by her father and his company.

I was sorry to reach the end of The Chester Creek Murders without resolution of these subplots, with that of Maddie’s missing husband being at the top of the list.

Knowing that this author never overlooks loose ends in a story, I am quite certain that these unresolved issues will be settled in future books.

As always with Nathan Dylan Goodwin’s books, I really enjoyed The Chester Creek Murders and am already looking forward to Book 2 of this new series.

There was always something interesting going on in one or more of the plots and the action moved quickly, beginning on 9 March 2020 and ending less than two weeks later.

While this story has some complexity to it, it is a fun, relaxing read. I’ll admit that once I sat down to begin reading, I barely put the book down until I finished it a few hours later. That’s because I kept wanting to know what happened next!

I highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys mysteries and genealogical research. Even my husband, who isn’t know for his overwhelming interest in genealogy, is intrigued by Nathan’s books!

The Chester Creek Murders is available TODAY. Visit Nathan Dylan Goodwin to purchase this book or any of his other growing lists of genealogical mysteries. It’s also available on Amazon for $12.99 (paperback) or $5.49 (Kindle).




5 thoughts on “Brand New: The Chester Creek Murders by Nathan Dylan Goodwin: Book Review”

  1. Your review makes me want to click and buy this instant. TY for sharing your detailed reactions to the book! I do love his other two mystery protagonists (Morton and Harriet) and I’m sure I will enjoy this new series.

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