With modern society’s fascination about DNA testing and ancestry tracking, the timing for a cozy mystery with an expert genealogist as the amateur sleuth seems perfect. The concept also has the added benefit that it is completely logical and realistic for such an individual to get caught up in a string of mysteries across a series. What that in mind, in comes S. C. Perkins with Murder Once Removed, a delightful debut novel with a heroine readers will enjoy following through a string of books.
A cozy mystery will live or die based on the strength of that main character; and with Lucy Lancaster, S. C. Perkins had really crafted a gem. Lucy is knowledgeable about her chosen profession – which includes so many different and complex facets, – loyal to those that care about and support her – family, friends, colleagues and clients, – and charming – a fun, funny, Southern ambassador.
When helping a client with some old boxes, Lucy discovers a daguerreotype photograph and a journal that call into question some Texas history. Lucy believes she has evidence of a murder over a century ago and she even thinks she knows who the guilty party is…or at least what his initials are. Her suspects have ties to two prominent Texas families and making these claims is going to lead to trouble…and death.
Every heroine needs some sidekicks and Perkins provides two excellent candidates in Lucy’s friends – who also help to share the rent on an office space. Both Josephine and Serena are quirky and unique. Watching how this group’s friendships develop will be a key part of this series moving forward. Lucy also has Flaco, the owner of her favorite taco restaurant. He provides valuable advice, even if Lucy isn’t always willing to heed it. Of course, there is also the typical cozy romance element – a man who at first seems like a jerk, then becomes an important player, before slowly the two develop a mutual attraction. Another cozy mystery staple, the beloved family pet, is amiably filled by NPH…that’s Neil Patrick Housecat for those of you who didn’t guess.
All of the mystery elements – both past and present – are wisely tied to Lucy’s job as a genealogist. Lucy’s guilt over the death of a colleague makes for a convincing reason for her continued involvement in the case. Astute readers will catch an important clue that Lucy misses earlier in the book, but rather than causing frustration, this adds a nice “when is she going to stumble onto that important element” through line to the proceedings.
Within the context of S. C. Perkins’ Murder Once Removed, Lucy Lancaster is going to steal the hearts of cozy mystery fans everywhere, to such an extent that she will no doubt have plenty of crimes to uncover in the coming years.
Disclaimer: This review is based on the audio version of this title.