A few bad apples fall from the family tree.
All families have secrets, and genealogist Natasha Blake (Pale as the Dead, 2004) has rousted many of them, some of which might better have stayed hidden. Consider, for example, the lies, distortions, half-truths and deceptions perpetrated by Cotswolds selective-breeding farmer Charles Seagrove, who asks Natasha to research the background of his granddaughter’s fiancé, then promptly cancels their wedding and winds up dead in the potting shed. To find out whodunit, Natasha, at the behest of Seagrove’s son Richard, continues on with her research. Soon enough, she learns that family births that should have been registered were not; Richard’s mother Stella pines for Amelia, a child who was never born; and an anonymous letter to Natasha indicates that Cinderella lies buried beneath the bluebells. Archival digging leads to a German POW, several “land girls” who worked the Seagrove farm during the war and an impassioned believer in the Nazi Lebensborn program, who caused the death of another, then his own, and wrought enough unhappiness for the three-hankie weeper this tale starts to turn into.
A village mystery with high aspirations. Alas, watching the tribulations of all these families, including Natasha’s own adopted Mum and Dad, gets a bit sudsy.