On a foggy night in 1914, the ocean liner Empress of Ireland sank en route between Canada and England. The disaster saw a loss of life comparable to the Titanic and the Lusitania, and yet her tragedy has been forgotten.
When genealogist Jefferson Tayte is shown a locket belonging to one of the Empress’s victims, a British admiral’s daughter named Alice Stilwell, he must travel to England to understand the course of events that led to her death.
Tayte is expert in tracking killers across centuries. In The Lost Empress, his unique talents draw him to one of the greatest tragedies in maritime history as he unravels the truth behind Alice’s death amidst a backdrop of pre-WWI espionage.
This is the fourth book in the Jefferson Tayte Genealogical Mystery series but can be enjoyed as a stand-alone story.
Once again I have returned to read about professional genealogist, Jefferson Tate or JT as he likes to be called. Hailing from the States he frequently finds his investigations take him to England, even though he hates flying. He is a very human character, who loves chocolate, has few social skills but is prepared to put himself in danger, in order to solve the mysteries which his clients present him with.
The Lost Empress is a dual time novel, leading up to the tragic sinking of the ocean liner. We join young mother and Admiral’s daughter Alice Sitwell who is driven to engaging in espionage against her country, to protect her husband and young children. The more she tries to extricate herself, the tighter the noose tightens and we wonder whether Jefferson will solve the mystery of her death or disappearance.
Both Alice and JT are at risk of losing their lives but both act bravely if rather foolishly. This is a particularly thrilling episode of this series which I seem to be reading in random order but that has not spoilt my enjoyment due to the clear characterisation. A novel which will entertain those who enjoy family history, thrillers or historical novels.
The Lost Empress is available on Amazon UK
My review of Steve Robinson’s Letters from the Dead
A Frenchman in the British Army fighting Germans on the Western Front? That’d be a bastard—the illegitimate son of the French President, forbidden by father to join the fray. Under an assumed name, Michel joins anyway. Except now he cannot escape the war that follows every step of the way as he and Henry—his comrade in arms—seek rest and recuperation in the mountains. Instead of wine and women, they find Germans and a secret plot to destroy France’s hub of munitions production. Cut off and outnumbered, they recruit a motley army comprising a women’s auxiliary and an old farmer with a big rifle and bad attitude. There’ll be no rest for these soldiers, not until Michel and Henry go to war. A cracking action–adventure story for fans of Flashman and The Guns of Navarone.
This first book of The French Bastard Series is set in France during the First World War. We are plunged straight into the horror and detritus of trench warfare where Michel and Henry drop into, “a trench filled with a mix of blood, shit and dead men.” Not content to die needlessly in no man’s land, Michel leads Henry into a dangerous attack on the German gunners. As a result of their success they are granted R & R, which they choose to take in the mountains Michel knew from his youth.
Along the way we encounter other characters including Emile, a French soldier bound for the hell-hole of Verdun, Ernie a tall Australian truck driver whom everyone likes and Kranz, a German killing machine with a mission, who treats enemy warriors with respect. Initially Michel and Henry spend their time drinking, fornicating and using foul language, but soon they are embroiled in more perilous adventures after a breakout by German prisoners of war. Michel is always bold and courageous, Henry, a reluctant soldier but a faithful friend. They move from one battle to another and the book is littered with carnage including intricate detail of the anatomical damage caused to bodies by each bullet or weapon.
Their final escapade runs in parallel to the completion of Franz’s mission and it is at this stage that the plot gains pace and excitement. There is a satisfactory denouement to a tragic story. If you want to read about the terror and inhumanity of World War One, described vividly and realistically then this is the book for you. If you prefer your adventures to be more sanitised then look elsewhere.