The Deserter’s Tale by Nathan Dylan Goodwin: Book Review

Disclaimer: In the past I have received some complimentary books from the author for review purposes. However, most of his books I have purchased at full price, including this one because I quickly became a fan!

When I received an email notice back in June that Nathan Dylan Goodwin had a new book coming out and it was available as a Kindle pre-order, I made a quick purchase, but realized that the September 15 release date was an entire summer season away.

The big day finally arrived and I excitedly opened Kindle to begin reading about Morton Farrier’s latest adventure. I wasn’t disappointed!

For those who are somehow unaware of Nathan Dylan Goodwin’s excellent genealogical mystery crime series, he is a prolific author of both the Morton Farrier books and the newer Venator cold case series, with Madison (Maddie) Scott-Barnhart leading a professional team of genealogists who solve cases using DNA evidence.

Although each of these stories can be read as a stand alone book, each series as a whole is becoming chapters in the lives of their characters. Recommendation – If you enjoy one of the later books and haven’t read the earlier books, make Book #1 your next read and then read the later books in the order they were published.

I mention this now because with The Deserter’s Tale, the two series come together for one week of Morton’s life as he travels from England to both Las Vegas, for personal reasons,  and to Salt Lake City to present at two sessions of the 2023 RootsTech conference.

The Deserter’s Tale is a fast-paced story, in terms of both action and book length (166 pages). Morton’s week begins on February 27, 2023 with Morton preparing his talks for RootsTech when he learns from his mother-in-law that his wife Juliette’s great grandfather upped and disappeared, deserting his family in England for a new life in America at the close of World War I. This new family mystery immediately catches his interest and distracts him to the point where Juliette’s great grandfather becomes the dominant focus of Morton’s trip. And, believe me, the discoveries Morton makes as great grandfather Charles Hughes’ story come together are quite a surprise.

If that weren’t enough, Morton had already prepared for a side trip to Las Vegas before RootsTech opened to meet with police detectives about re-opening the murder case in which his own grandfather was charged after his death.

Las Vegas turned out to be much more important than he expected not only to seek exoneration for his grandfather, but also in solving the mystery of Juliette’s long-missing great grandfather.

Morton had yet another surprise because it turned out that an ex-girlfriend, who readers learn is Madison Scott-Barnhart of Venator, a company that does IGG (Investigative Genetic Genealogy), was going to be on the same discussion panel at RootsTech. They hadn’t been in touch since Maddie suddenly broke off their relationship in England with little explanation and returned home to the United States more than 20 years before.

These events set the stage for the skillful weaving that Nathan always brings to his stories, connecting past events with current activities and dropping multiple hints that are unresolved at the story’s end, leaving the readers to wait for the next book sharing more of Morton’s and Maddie’s adventures.

By March 6, 2023, when Morton arrives back home, he has made contact with Nevada detectives who are re-opening his grandfather’s case and has pieced together the story of Juliette’s great grandfather’s surprising life through multiple aliases.

He has re-connected with Maddie, met her Venator team, experienced his first RootsTech conference and enjoyed his first visit to the FamilySearch Library.

It isn’t until after he gets back home that Maddie sends him a shock message and Morton also learns that he is being considered for a fabulous new TV job because of the quality of his presentations at RootsTech.

As always, I loved Nathan Dylan Goodwin’s latest book and, as always, I highly recommend it to anyone who loves genealogy, mysteries or just a fun, well written story. Be aware, though, after reading one Goodwin story, you’ll be left wanting to read many more.

The Deserter’s Tale is available as an e-book on Amazon in the Kindle edition for $3.99.


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