DISCLAIMER: In the past, I received complimentary copies of several books for the purpose of review. However, I am a fan of Nathan Dylan Goodwin and have not received any compensation or financial consideratoin of any kind for his more recent books, including this one.
I am a definite fan of Nathan Dylan Goodwin’s genealogical mysteries and it’s always exciting to learn a new release is about to happen. Therefore, when I received an email announcing the publication of The Sawtooth Slayer, happening on 28 October 2022, I pre-ordered my Kindle copy.
For those who are new to Nathan’s genealogical crime mysteries, his prolific series of books fit into two writing groups – The Forensic Genealogist Series, in which Morton Farrier is the lead character, and the new Venator Cold Case Series, in which today’s review is Book #2.
While both series offer a combination of genealogical sleuthing skills, Englishman Morton Farrier focuses first on the genealogical methods, adding in DNA evidence as his case progresses, while Venator is a forensic genealogy company based in Salt Lake City. Owner Madison Scott-Barnhart, aka Maddie, and her team place their first emphasis on DNA evidence and then move to building out genealogical trees to narrow down crime suspects.
These characters are all introduced in Venator Book #1, which isn’t necessary to have read to enjoy Book #2, but will lay the foundation for getting to know Maddie and her team.
Both series feature the author’s signature writing style, offering a main story line, which is concluded at the end of the book, but with multiple lesser story lines, which are only partly resolved and leave the reader wanting the next book immediately! (Like me!)
I have to admit here that it took a lot of willpower not to begin reading the story on Friday morning when I had the notice from Amazon that the book had downloaded into Kindle. However, later in the day, when I had free time, I began reading. . . and reading. . . and reading.
I get up very early in the morning, generally about 5:00 a.m., which I did on Saturday morning. The first thing I did was open my iPad, sit in my comfie chair and continue reading. . . until I finished the book a few hours later and I really enjoyed the story.
The Sawtooth Slayer features Maddie and her small team of forensic experts accepting a unique case, as it’s not a cold case many years old which is their typical case, but a current live case involving multiple murders by a serial killer.
From the introduction of the publishing blurb:
April 2020, Twin Falls, Idaho. A serial killer is on the loose. A nameless man is kidnapping young women from their own homes, taking them out of the city to kill them before returning their bodies to random locations around the city. Detective Maria Gonzalez heads up the investigation but has very few leads to pursue. As time passes and fears rise that the killer might strike again with a fifth victim, Maria turns to Venator—an investigative genetic genealogy company—in the hope that they can identify the killer from his DNA alone before he has the chance to take yet another life.
Notice that the story is set right at the beginning of the pandemic, which doesn’t have any real impact on the story line, but, in the future, readers will quickly realize why the story includes mention about businesses being shut down, people working from home and the wearing masks.
A sense of urgency is established right as the story unfolds and the pace is kept up right to the final pages of the book. We meet the killer immediately, but he is nameless and faceless, just a friend of an elderly woman who lives in his neighborhood.
I don’t want to give away any of the story line, so I’m not going to say anything else, except that it moves along at a good speed and you don’t have to be a genealogy or forensic science expert to understand what is happening.
It’s interesting that there is a tip about the Family History Library mentioned. No, I’m not going to tell you what it is – you’ll have to read the book – but I will say I knew about it because it is also true at the local Family History Centers.
If you are already one of Nathan Dylan Goodwin’s fans, you will enjoy The Sawtooth Slayer as much as his other forensic genealogy books.
If Nathan is a new-to-you author, I highly recommend ordering The Sawtooth Slayer directly from his website, which gives you the opportunity to browse and buy his other books, too!
The price – $5.99 U.S. for Kindle or $13.99 U.S. – is the same, as the author’s website will take you to Amazon.
By the way, I’ve already mentioned to Nathan that I am patiently waiting for the NEXT book because I want to know what happens in the unresolved story lines of Maddie and her co-workers.
2 thoughts on “Hot off the Presses: The Sawtooth Slayer by Nathan Dylan Goodwin, Book Review”
I’m currently reading the book while I go to the clinic for dialysis, and the story flows so deftly it keeps me distracted for hours. Very nice review of the book. I’ve read every one of NDGs books and he’s a gifted author indeed.
Agree with you that this is quite a page-turner! I was riveted by the case and by the genealogical methodology, as well as the characters’ personal lives.