Murder Once Removed

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 19 Mar 2019

Member Reviews

Lucy Lancaster is a woman who has deep love for genealogy, such much so that she had started her own business where she researches family trees and follows the leads until she has all the information that she can find to give to her client. It was this tenacity that led her to discover that her latest client’s ancestor had indeed been murdered as his family had long suspected. While Lucy was celebrating her achievement with her client after the conclusion of business, she managed to have one too many drinks which landed her in a political powder keg. Once Lucy understood the situation that she had created she felt that it was up to her to follow the clues to find out who really was responsible for the murder of her client’s ancestor. What she never expected was that her discovery would turn into a game of cat and mouse with a present-day killer.

Murder Once Removed was a fun whodunit with the added element of genealogy. Lucy is a persistent character who once she has her mind set on something does not give up until the truth has been found. I truly enjoyed the situations that she found herself in all while in the pursuit of truth. Along the way I was able to meet her friends and read about her less than enthusiastic encounters with federal agents. Every encounter just added more interest to this story and created more excitement for me to want to continue in this series. There were even several moments where the dialogue between her and a certain federal agent had me laughing out loud. Overall, Murder Once Removed was one heck of a cozy mystery which kept me entertained in so many lovely ways! I would definitely recommend it!

This review is based on a complimentary book I received from NetGalley. It is an honest and voluntary review. The complimentary receipt of it in no way affected my review or rating.
Was this review helpful?
Murder Once Removed is the first book in the Ancestry Detective series.

I was drawn to this book by the main character’s occupation, that being the researching of family ancestry.  I’ve not read any mysteries with this storyline and felt that it would be a nice change from mostly craft cozy’s.  It was a most enjoyable story.

Lucy Lancaster has been contacted by billionaire Gus Holloran to research the family ancestry so his children and future generation will know their roots.  Holloran is also hoping that Lucy might be able to find additional information on the death of Seth Holloran in 1849.  From conversations with a grandmother, it seems there was some question as to how Seth had died.  It had been listed as an accident, his being run over by wagon drawn by a team of horses.  Lucy soon finds that, indeed, Seth had been murdered.  She was able to get a picture of Seth’s dead body taken by a portrait photographer, Jeb Inscore, that shows he had died from being stabbed.  With the help of a descendant of Inscore Lucy also secures a journal Inscore kept at the time.

Lucy soon discovers that it appears that the killer is someone with initials C. A.  One of the gentlemen with those initials is Caleb Applewhite, who happens to be the 3 great grandfathers of Daniel Applewhite, current U.S. Senator from Texas.  Even though Lucy hasn’t found proof of which C. A. was behind the murder, Holloran, whose son is running Daniel Applewhite for the Senate, announces Lucy findings.

Things now start to heat up.  The lady that gave the journal and pictures to Lucy experience a break-in at her home, Lucy experiences a break-in at the office she shares with two other ladies.  The most upsetting is the murder of Lucy’s mentor Dr. Winnie Dell, curator of the  Hamilton American History Center.  Lucy had given her some of the pictures so that they could be properly preserved.

When FBI Special Agent Benton Turner, Lucy is surprised that the FBI has been called in.  Then when he orders her to stay out of any investigations she might be thinking of doing, she is more determined to proceed with her plans to do some sleuthing.

I thought the story was well-written and plotted, with an interesting cast of believable characters.  I would like to learn more about the characters in future books, particularly the interesting Big Flaco who owns Flaco’s Taco.

I will be watching for the next book in this interesting and informative new series.
Was this review helpful?
I absolutely loved this book!

Full disclosure, I studied history in university. I eat, sleep, and breathe history. I have been known on occasion to get lost in the pursuit of knowledge in tracing my family genealogy. So when I read that the protagonist of this book was a self-employed genealogist I knew I had to check it out.

This has been my favourite cozy mystery that I have read in a long time. In fact, I would even place it as my favourite cozy mystery ever. I find that I can relate to Lucy Lancaster and her group of friends. The interactions between characters and the unique nature of her friend group fits my life to a "T".

The mystery itself was very well written. When Lucy makes a discovery for a client regarding the murder of one of his ancestors, she has no idea that she is about is about to unleash a murderer in her own life. 

The pacing of this novel is fantastic, and I look forward to reading the next title in the series!
Was this review helpful?
Murder Once Removed is the first in the promising Ancestry Detective cozy series set in Texas. Author S.C. Perkins used her setting to perfect advantage: not only did I want to book a flight to Austin for a visit, but she also made me crave Mexican food. (Thank heaven Big Flaco's Tacos isn't here!) 

Another strong part of her setting is the old office building in which Lucy shares space with her two best friends, Serena the personal shopper and British Josephine who's a translator. Perkins has set up a good supporting cast for Lucy which also includes Juan "Big Flaco" Medrano (the food magician, yum) and NPH-- Neil Patrick Housecat-- among others. The cast might get even larger if some of the family members who were mentioned return from their travels in future books. 

The mystery is a good one in Murder Once Removed, plenty of misdirection and red herrings, and I enjoyed trying to figure it out. But there were a couple of things that I didn't enjoy quite so much. Lucy is not supposed to be a fashionista-- preferring to wear jeans and t-shirts to work-- but readers are given a blow-by-blow description of everyone's physical appearance and wardrobe. All the needless detail slows down the pace of the book. There's also a rather run-of-the-mill romantic interest for Lucy-- the gorgeous law enforcement guy who rubs her fur the wrong way-- that really wasn't necessary. Just once, I wish the main character would fall for a homely guy who wasn't licensed to carry any deadly weapons, you know?

Thankfully, the mystery, Lucy and her gang, and the Austin setting rose above the wordy descriptions and ho-hum romance. I'm looking forward to seeing what family tree Lucy shakes next.
Was this review helpful?
Murder Once Removed by S.C. Perkins is the first An Ancestry Detective novel.  Lucy Lancaster, of Ancestry Investigations, is a genealogist who loves delving into the past researching her client’s ancestors.  She has been hired by Gus Halloran to research his family’s history.  Lucy was also able to prove that his ancestor, Seth Halloran was murdered in 1849, and it was orchestrated by a man with the initials C.A.  She was able to dig up a daguerreotype and a journal from the photographer who witnessed the crime.  Unfortunately, Gus announces to this tidbit to the press with a very tipsy Lucy standing next to him that Texas Senator Caleb Applewhite was responsible.  Caleb’s descendant, Senator Daniel Applewhite happens to be running for re-election against Gus’ son, Pearce.  Lucy wants to positively identify the guilty party.  She decides to consult with her friend, Dr. Winnie Dell.  Lucy arrives at Winnie’s office to find her friend dead and the daguerreotype is gone.  Someone is not happy that Lucy has delved into the past.  Then Lucy’s office is broken into and Senator Daniel Applewhite is attacked.  What is the killer trying to obtain?  Some action in the past is affecting those in the present.  Can Lucy uncover the truth before the killer strikes again?

Murder Once Removed is unique for cozy mysteries.  Our main character, Lucy Lancaster is a genealogist who runs a company called Ancestry Investigations.  She can uncover your ancestors, provide a family tree, obtain photographs, and so much more (I had no idea).  Lucy can provide a beautifully bound book and a website for her clients is they desire.  She uses land records, census records, journals, photographs and numerous other resources (there is a veritable font of information available if you know where to look).  I would have liked more information on Lucy and for her to come across as a more mature main character (not the best idea to get blotto in front of a client).  Though I do find it appealing that she is a Downton Abbey fan.  There are two intertwined mysteries in Murder Once Removed.  The death of Seth Halloran from 1849 and the current murder of Winnie Dell.  I like how the two mysteries relate to each other and that they were wrapped up at the end of the book.  There is action as Lucy evades the killer.  She asks questions and does research to solve the two crimes.  I do wish that the modern mystery had been laid out differently.  It is the type that plays out with little opportunity for the reader to solve (which is my favorite part).  There is interesting genealogical information and history included in the story (though I am still baffled by the once removed—there is a handy chart included). Special Agent Ben Turner was an interesting, handsome and charming character.  His history background gives him plenty in common with Lucy who finds him attractive.  There were sparks flying between the pair.  I liked the humorous dialogue between them at the end (made me laugh).  Murder Once Removed is an enticing new cozy mystery that will appeal to the history and genealogy enthusiasts.
Was this review helpful?
I received a free digital ARC from NetGalley in exchange for a honest review.

This is a new to me author.  And it is the first time I have read a mystery with a professional genealogist as an amateur detective.

Recommending this novel for fans of family tree research and mystery.
Was this review helpful?
Murder Once Removed
By S.C. Perkins
Minotaur Books
March 2019

Review by Cynthia Chow

If you want to know who is your third cousin three times removed, Lucy Lancaster is the person to ask.  Not only can she explain what being “removed” actually means, Lucy and her Ancestry Investigations creates for clients a book of family records that includes her meticulous research, photos, DNA analysis, newspapers, and census reports.  Lucy’s painstaking investigation for Gus Halloran leads to the unexpected discovery that his great-great-grandfather’s death was a murder and not an accident, and the culprit possibly being one of two Texas politicians.  That the descendant of one of the suspects is currently running for Senate reelection against Gus’s son makes Lucy’s findings potentially explosive, and Gus is more than ready to set off the bomb.  Unfortunately for Lucy, the combination of antihistamines and a martini lunch places her alongside Gus in TV news interview and makes a daguerreotype photo the target of a thief.  The first of several break-ins is foiled by Lucy’s giving the photograph to her former boss and University of Texas curator Dr. Winnie Dell, who herself is sadly not so lucky.  The arrival of a prickly and expressionless FBI agent only makes Lucy all the more curious, especially when Special Agent Benton Turner’s orders her to stay out of his business and leave the detecting for “real” investigators.

Readers who loved the genealogy mysteries of Rett MacPherson will adore this new series that enthusiastically and extensively delves into the world of family tree research.  Genealogy terms and family lineage are fascinatedly explained, and even Lucy’s high school friends and officemates find themselves drawn into her research.  That doesn’t mean that Jo Haroldson and Serena Vogel aren’t far more interested in setting up Lucy and finding her a hot Halloween costume, but their exuberance and humor is contagious.  Lucy is not your clichéd stodgy genealogist obsessed with tracing lineage back to the Mayflower, and she combines the latest technology with her adored tangible newspapers and records stored within libraries.  Special Agent Turner becomes the nemesis who irritates her as much as he intrigues her, and it certainly doesn’t help that he happens to resemble Indiana Jones in his professor mode.   As the danger escalates and Lucy finds herself torn between two very powerful and likable political figures, she sensibly refrains from acting too rashly or placing herself recklessly at risk.  The interactions between Lucy and her two BFFs always deliver laughs as they good-naturedly tease one another, but the real sparks fly between Lucy and the man whose initials make him the BAT in the bureau.  Ensuing the success of this fun cozy debut are the inclusion of Neal Patrick Housecat, descriptions of mouth-watering Mexican delicacies, and an elaborate mystery from the 1800s that leads to a present-day murder.
Was this review helpful?
Lucy Lancaster, a professional genealogist uncovers more than expected when researching the family history of billionaire Angus Halloran.  She uncovers an unsolved mystery dating back to 1849 involving two prominent families.  Photographic evidence in the form of an old daguerreotype photo as well as journals from a witness strongly point two a couple of suspects, one of which has a current descendant running for office.  Lucy finds herself in over her head as things take a nasty turn.  Someone has tried to hack Lucy's computer and even more sinister, Lucy's friend who was restoring the old photographic proof has been murdered.  Lucy cannot help but feel responsible in some part for the murder of her friend, which compels her to look into the historical mystery in order to gain insight and potentially uncover the present day murderer.  
This was an unexpected gem among the new spring cozy mystery releases.  Genealogy plays such a big role in the field I work in so it was a delight to see it brought to the forefront in such a creative manner.  Genealogy is detective work at the heart of it so combining it with murder made for an interesting premise.  The author does a great job of creating a cast of characters, both main and secondary, with such strong presence that help to carry the plot along.  In Lucy, the author has created a strong, tenacious, and sassy protagonist we would love to have come work in our genealogy department.  Genealogy research played such a central role in uncovering the identity of not one, but two murderers over the course of the story, and it was such fun to learn even more about this interesting field through the course of the novel.  I look forward to seeing what the second in the series has in store.
Was this review helpful?
This book is a mystery wrapped in genealogy.  Lucy Lancaster solves mysteries in other people’s genealogical roots.  This particular time her finds lead her to a modern day mystery and danger for herself.

I enjoyed the writing style of this author and also found the book to be both engaging and funny at times.  I appreciate the publisher and NetGalley allowing me to read an advanced copy.
Was this review helpful?
Never made it past the first 15% of the book.  No spark.  No interest.  The writing was drab and the author spoke down to the reader.
Was this review helpful?
Murder Once Removed by S. C. Perkins is the 1st book in an Ancestry Detective mystery series, and a great start.  What a unique book, this cozy adds genealogy, with a unsolved murder dated back to 1849. Lucy Lancaster is the genealogist who loves to get to the truth.  This book has a lot of suspects along with many twists and turns, which kept me reading page after page. I found this book to be a quick read with well developed plot and characters.  I am looking forward to reading the next book in the series.  

I reviewed an arc from Netgalley and St. Martin's Press. Thank you.
Was this review helpful?
Lucy Lancaster is a confident genealogist with her own business in Austin, Texas. When she is hired by a prominent family to trace it's heritage, she finds an old mystery involving murder and family secrets. But the past can't be left in the past when it may be tied to the murder of Lucy's friend in whom she confided about the ancestry secret and when it also involves a sitting Senator running for re-election.

One of the book's character's describes Lucy the best as her having "moxie." She is determined, tenacious, and loyal. I enjoyed learning about Texas history and the book was an interesting subject. The plot was a bit far-fetched but it was so well-written that I just went with the fiction and allowed myself to be entertained by this charming cozy. I'd like to read more of this series

Thanks to NetGalley and Minotaur Books for an advance digital copy of this book. My review is voluntary.
Was this review helpful?
I adored this book so much! I loved the primise of our amature sluth trying to solve both a murder in the past and in the present. The plot was interesting and moved well and it did keep me guessing. I am looking forward to more books in this series.
Was this review helpful?
Fun start to a new series.  Who would guess that a 160 year old murder would set off a firestorm and lead to another murder?  Well, when its politics in Texas, everything seems to be on the table.  Lucy, a genealogist,  is hired to find out who committed the murder. There's perhaps more technical genealogy here than casual readers might like (but there's also, I understand, some mistakes) but it's an engaging trot through Texas history.  There's a great guy named Flaco, who makes tacos, and a love interest named Ben, who just happens to be an FBI Special Agent.  Thanks to Netgalley for the ARC.  A quick and informative read.
Was this review helpful?
When I saw this new series listed for review, I knew I had to request it. Growing up with various family members who were very into genealogy, back in the days when they had to travel to the sources, write for information, etc. I often think of how my great uncle would have loved reading this mystery. The new world of genealogy would have pleased him no end. This debut mystery did not disappoint me. I would love to spend time with Lucy - both to hire her to shake my family tree and to be a friend. She can be very professional and then very funny. 
Lucy has just completed a family tree for a local Texas family, long connected with the state and worth buckets of money. Hanging on their tree is the mystery of how a relative died back in 1849. It has been family lore, full of conflict and hard feelings. Lucy sheds light on the death when she uncovers a journal and a daguerreotype that prove it was murder. Now that it has been revealed, somebody wants it to be erased permanently and the current generation adds a new murder to the family legacy. Lucy and those around her find themselves in danger. Even the FBI gets involved.
I am a true novice when it comes to genealogy but the information Lucy shares with her friends, also novices, made it clear enough to me that I wasn't in over my head on the subject. It also didn't hurt that there was a cat named NPH aka Neil Patrick Housecat - 18 pounds of orange fluff, with attitude.
There is no doubt that this series will find a place on my must be read list as long as it lasts and I hope it lasts a long time.
My thanks to the publisher St. Martin's Minotaur and to NetGalley for giving me an advance copy in exchange for my honest review.
Was this review helpful?
I reviewed this book for Mystery Scene Magazine be sure and look for my review in the Spring issue which comes out April 15 2019
Was this review helpful?
“Murder Once Removed” by S.C. Perkins

This is the first book I have read by S.C. Perkins and it won’t be the last. The way genealogy and historical research are featured is brilliant, and the way the historical murder is shown to affected descendants in the present offers skill and compassion.
Lucy is a genealogist who has her own business researching ancestry. Recently, she’s been delving into the history of a prominent Texas family, leading her to a murder committed in the 1840s. Lucy feels she must look into what happened and help the FBI. So she begins to trace the ancestry of the individuals involved and follows the twists and turns that occur during the 1849 killing. 
The Texan billionaire who commissioned Lucy to do the research airs his accusation publicly in front of a rival who’s a descendant of the murderer. However, the reality of the situation is that there are two individuals who might be the descendant, and Lucy’s research is inconclusive in determining which of the two has the guilty ancestor.
There are two mysteries intertwined: the murder of the ancestor of one of Lucy’s clients, and how the past connects with a current murder, leading to clues and red herrings for the reader to solve along the way. This series will appeal to those interested in ancestry/genealogy research, and it even offers up a romantic mystery in the budding relationship between Lucy and the FBI agent.

Reviewed by Lauren Brabrook (LaurenReads1) for Suspense Magazine
Was this review helpful?
I am a sucker for genealogical mysteries as previous reviews would show. Although this is a technically lighter story. It is more of a cozy mystery with all that the tag signifies, friendships, possible romance and some very good luck along with an intelligent leading lady. Since I expected it to fit the mould and carry my love of family history being tied up in a mystery as well as some well done light writing, I enjoyed the experience significantly. Lucy is a genealogist who likes the investigative part of her job.

Lucy has just stumbled on something that a 70+ magnate of Texas did not really expect her to find, an answer to a centuries old question. Lucy is thrust into the limelight with this discovery and then chaos breaks loose as an almost direct consequence. There is an interesting FBI agent, some close friends and banter  and mexican food with an amazing father like cook,all playing a role in the solving of the case (which she should not be trying to solve anyway). I liked all the people they introduced to us and I specifically enjoyed the writing. It was just what I needed today and I read it in one sitting. I even look forward to meeting Lucy again.
Was this review helpful?
Sometimes I get so busy that I don't catch all the books flying at me for giveaways, ARCs, or blog tours. Other times, I'm lucky to have friends who know me incredibly well. Nina (@TheCozyPages) privately messaged me to ensure I saw this book was available for a blog tour. I hadn't caught it, but then I immediately signed up for a read and review. I have limited time while I'm writing my own books to allow me to take on anything more than a regular read / review, but this was one blog tour I didn't want to miss. My post isn't for another 7 days, but I'm writing the review now while it's fresh in my mind! Then I'll add in all the graphics and other content to lure the readers in! What a funtastic read... I'm glad and grateful for the opportunity. Where to start?

A genealogical mystery? Hmm... three of my favorite things include genealogy, mysteries, and book series. It's a setup, I was bound to love it. S.C. Perkins' debut in the 'Ancestry Detective' cozy series, Murder Once Removed, is a strong lead in for the future. I wasn't sure what to expect when I began reading it. For instance, would the murder occur in history or in something more current? Would it potentially contain murders in both as well as flip between time periods so we know what happened years ago? Possibly... I can't give away all the secrets, now can I? Ultimately, I was quite happy with the structure, story, and approach.

Lucy Lancaster, a ~30ish genealogist in Texas, is hired to trace the family tree for a wealthy family whose son is running for office. It seems the opponent is someone who has it in for the family, too. When the patriarch also asks the protagonist to prove someone murdered a relative in the mid/late 19th century, Lucy digs up photographic evidence that it wasn't just an accident. But when she traces a long-lost journal that identifies the initials and a few facial features of the killer, it can only be referring to a handful of people from that period. And one of them is related to the opponent. How deadly will this secret be to keep? Quite deadly if you don't watch you back. Someone wants Lucy to stop her research, but she's passionate about solving her cases.

What a different way to tell the story! From reading land records to tracing family trees, the various suspects are revealed along with the usual motive, opportunity, and means thrown in by the pesky police. Yes, if you're not a fan of genealogy, you might not love the frequent references to "third cousin once removed" versus "great great great this or that..." but for me, it was a thrilling ride. I love this type of stuff and truly connected with the characters and the investigation. A few folks might notice some minor liberties with what documentation or artifacts were available specific to that region or time period, but ultimately, this is fiction... and it will always have some level of exaggeration to fit the plot. I read a book for the story and the beauty in how it comes together, not to find an exact perfect replica of reality. I already have that am trying to escape it! :)

I will definitely continue with this series and can't wait for the next one!
Was this review helpful?
Lucy Lancaster, Ancestry Investigations, uncovers new information about the death, in 1849, of Seth Halloran, whose wife Jennie built her husband’s business into the Texas empire, Halloran Incorporated.  The information confirms what today’s family patriarch, Gus Halloran says his great-great-grandmother always believed: that her husband was murdered.  With a photograph of Seth with a knife sticking out of his chest and a journal entry recorded by the photographer who overheard the killer being identified as C.A, Lucy presents Gus with the evidence that proves it was murder.

Armed with the fact that there are two individuals alive at the time of the murder who could be C.A., Gus holds a press conference and announces that he believes the murderer was Caleb Applewhite, the head of another wealthy Texas family.  In fact, Senator Daniel Applewhite is currently running for re-election against Pearce Halloran, Gus’ son.

The suspense quickly escalates as Winnie Dell, curator of the Hamilton American History Center, is found murdered by Lucy who had a meeting with the curator to discuss how to straighten out Gus’ premature announcement.  In addition to Winnie’s murder, key evidence is missing, presumed stolen by the killer.  

Complicating the murder investigation is the involvement of FBI Agent Benton Turner, who is working undercover as a professor of Texas history at the University of Texas, substituting for one of Lucy’s resources for her genealogy work.  

Murder Once Removed is a complex mystery cleverly crafted by S. C. Perkins.  The first in the Ancestry Detective series, the author deftly weaves threads of the past into the current investigation.  Full of twists and distractions, the killer continues to search for a specific piece of evidence, tearing Lucy’s office apart and threatening her as well.

Ms. Perkins creates an interesting community of characters, skillfully grounding this series with realistic dialogue and engaging relationships.  Murder Once Removed is a strong start to a compelling cozy series.
Was this review helpful?