The Sinclair Betrayal: A Jayne Sinclair Genealogical Mystery by M J Lee #TuesdayBookBlog #Review

Sinclair Betrayal

Jayne Sinclair is back and this time she’s investigating her own family history.
For years, Jayne has avoided researching the past of her own family. There are just too many secrets she would prefer to stay hidden. Then she is forced to face up to the biggest secret of all; her father is still alive. Even worse, he is in prison for the cold-blooded killing of an old civil servant. A killing supposedly motivated by the betrayal and death of his mother decades before.

Was he guilty or innocent? And who betrayed his mother?

Jayne uses all her genealogical and police skills to investigate the world of the Special Operations Executive and of secrets hidden in the dark days of World War 2. A world that leads her into a battle with herself, her conscience and her own family.

This is not the first Jayne Sinclair Genealogical mystery but the first I have read. It appealed to me because the wartime drama dealt with the story of British agents undercover in France while the research made by Jayne in the present day showed that investigation can reveal dark family secrets. The plotting is excellent, and we learn a great deal about the possibilities of following leads, but I found both female characters rather lacking in substance. Monique Massat, Jane’s grandmother represents the heroines of the SOE and her sad story reflects the tragedy of war. This story could make an exciting on-screen drama and I shall be seeking out other volumes in this series.

The Sinclair Betrayal can be found on Amazon UK

M J Lee

M J Lee

Martin has spent most of his adult life writing in one form or another. As a University researcher in history, he wrote pages of notes on reams of obscure topics. As a social worker with Vietnamese refugees, he wrote memoranda. And, as the creative director of an advertising agency, he has written print and press ads, tv commercials, short films and innumerable backs of cornflake packets and hotel websites.

He has spent 25 years of his life working outside the North of England. In London, Hong Kong, Taipei, Singapore, Bangkok and Shanghai, winning awards from Cannes, One Show, D&AD, New York and London Festivals, and the United Nations.
When he’s not writing, he splits his time between the UK and Asia, taking pleasure in playing with his daughter, researching his family history, single-handedly solving the problem of the French wine lake and wishing he were George Clooney.


Friday Five Challenge

Welcome to my Friday Five Challenge
(Original idea from Rosie Amber at coff

To join in read the rules at the bottom.

Today I searched for a book under the topic of Surrey.  In the books category I was offered a very dull selection of travel and history books which looked as though they had sat on the shelves for some considerable time.  Clicking to Kindles I was offered a more lively selection including The Surrey Strangler but disappointed to discover that this was set, not in southern England but across the pond, I moved on.  Suddenly I spotted the name Gillian Tindall whose name was familiar to me from reading The House by the Thames which tells the history of a 450 year old house still standing near to The Globe Theatre. This more recent book is called Three Houses, Many Lives.

3 houses

On this occasion Gillian Tindall looks at three houses A Cotswold vicarage, a former girls’ boarding school in Surrey and a Jacobean house now buried in inner London in which she personally has lived.  According to the description, “these three houses represent the changing face of England over four centuries through the lives of the many people who lived in them.”

There are six customer reviews giving 4 or 5 stars, two giving 3 and one 2 star.  Those with reservations feel too much time is spent describing Miss Tindall’s research and preferred reading her personal recollections.  Peeping briefly into the book I was intrigued by paragraph headings such as Bombs and fantasies and Passionate Hornsey.

This book is clearly of interest to social historians and those who enjoy family history research and that’s definitely me so will I BUY or will I PASS?  I’ll BUY.

So now it’s your turn.

Get yourself a cuppa and give yourself 5 minutes.

In today’s online shopping age, readers often base their buying decisions from small postage stamp size book covers (Thumb-nails), a quick glance at the book description and the review. How much time do they really spend making that buying decision?

AUTHORS – You often only have seconds to get a reader to buy your book, is your book cover and book bio up to it?

My Friday Five Challenge is this….. IN ONLY FIVE MINUTES….

1) Go to any online book supplier,

2) Randomly choose a category,

3) Speed through the book covers, choose one which has instantly appealed to your eye,

4) Read the book Bio/ Description for this book, and any other details.

5) If there are reviews, check out a couple,

6) Make an instant decision, would you BUY or PASS?

Some other Friday Five Challenges to look at today:-

BUY or PASS? Goodreads Provides a Winner for #FridayFiveChallenge

Cold, cold, cold, oh, please… #FridayFiveChallenge from @rosieamber1

The Hour Before Dawn By Sara MacDonald


The Hour Before Dawn is the story of two generations which is told in the details of traumatic events in 1976 and the present day.  Unusually there are two heroines in this novel, Fleur Montrose and her estranged daughter Nikki.  The two women have been torn apart by a mysterious tragedy in Malaysia when Nikki was 5, as well as the early loss of Fleur’s husband, Nikki’s father David.

The story also goes back to 1966 when 15 year old, Fleur met army officer, David in Singapore.  For me, having lived in Singapore at this time, this part of the tale didn’t ring true, but later scenes, particularly of Malaysia, reminded me of the sights and smells and the contrast between busy towns and the peace of the beach houses at Port Dickson.

Fleur’s flawed relationship, both with her mother and her daughter seem to stem from her selfish, single-minded behaviour but later it becomes evident that she has concealed a troubling secret to protect her family.  In addition they have to cope with the mysterious disappearance of Nikki’s twin sister Saffie in 1976 and Fleur’s remarriage after her first husband’s death.

Now a widow once more and writing a dissertation as a mature student, Fleur sets out for New Zealand on a trail of Friedensreich Hundertwasser’s architecture.  She intends to stay with her daughter Nikki, who is expecting a baby with partner Jack.  But Fleur does not turn up.  She has disappeared while stopping over at Singapore.  Reluctantly Nikki and Jack set out to look for Fleur.  In Singapore they meet Inspector Mockter who discovers that Fleur has taken a train and bus to Port Dickson in Malaysia, the place where Saffie was last seen.

In the course of the story we eventually come to understand what happened to Saffie and why Fleur behaved oddly.  Inspector Mockter has a special rapport with Nikki which helps her to cope with an impossible situation, while heavily pregnant.

Sara MacDonald is a talented writer.  She deals with complex family relationships and their breakdown very effectively.  There is a strong sense of place in Port Dickson and the Bay of Islands in New Zealand.  There are a few editing issues, especially with the spelling of places in Singapore but I am just being picky since they don’t affect the content of a tremendous story of loss and hope.

The Plantagenet Mystery by Victoria Prescott


The mystery of this title is introduced in the Prologue when we are witnesses to the secret burial by Sir Thomas, of a beggar in place of another old man, who has died in an English village in 1550. But the novel begins in the present day where we meet Rob Tyler, a young man who is financing his History PhD by part-time work for Wynslade County Archives. Going through the notes of William Amory gentleman and antiquarian, he is forced to photocopy them quickly since they have been demanded by a member of the public.

Rob also earns money teaching an evening class in Family History where one of his regular students is Emily Finch, an elderly lady who keeps 40 years of research on her Finch Family History in a shopping trolley. Rob’s neighbour in his Victorian terrace house is a very different young man. An unqualified builder doing-up the house to sell for a profit, Chris has nothing in common with Rob and yet the two help each other and become involved in solving an historical mystery which takes them into the realms of danger and crime.

The subject matter of the family of Richard III and the way in which the mystery is solved using old documents and an ancient building very much appealed to me as a family historian. The added excitement of an aggressive opponent who will stop at nothing to uncover the information he wants, make this book an exciting read. Emily’s great nieces Claire and Laura also become involved but their relationship with the two young men has no chemistry and very little co-operation.

Despite solving the mystery Rob and Chris decide to keep most of their discoveries to themselves but they are rewarded in some way and the reader is the person who has learnt most about what might have happened in the early 16th century.