Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Murder at the Mansion

Connolly, Sheila. Murder at the Mansion. (Victorian Village Mystery; 1) New York: Minotaur Books, 2018.

This promising start to a new "Victorian Village" series by Sheila Connolly features Kate who returns to Asheboro after the hotel for which she works sells to new ownership who release Kate and her boss from their positions with nice severance packages. Kate's mission to see how the town can make a turnaround may be impossible, but the key lies in an old mansion now owned by the town. Its previous owner Henry Barton left a generous trust fund to maintain the property. Kate's nemesis, a councilwoman, was murdered. Kate finds herself assisting in the investigation as she examines some important letters she becomes certain the woman found. I loved the mystery but guessed the murderer's identity fairly early. A lot of questions remain unanswered for the readers, indicating the author intends to reveal more solutions to those questions in future installments. While genealogical research was done, the author included few details. Hopefully more will unfold as the series progresses. The series shows promise and should provide mystery-loving genealogists with a few hours pleasure as each book is published.  I received an advance electronic copy from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Monday, June 25, 2018

The King's Justice

Powell, E. M. The King's Justice. Seattle: Thomas & Mercer, 2018.

When the manorial Lord comes to seek permission of the king's justices to execute a man charged with murdering the town's blacksmith, the justice's clerk Aelred Barling along with Hugo Stanton, a messenger in the king's service, to make inquiries and serve justice. Stanton does not believe the accused committed the crime, but he's not the one there to give the verdict. Another man is murdered the night the accused escapes from the "gaol." The body count and attempted murder count climbs as the story progresses and the search for the missing man continues.

This was a nicely plotted mystery that held my interest. The guilty party was not immediately obvious although one might suspect the person among several others. The writing is not as strong or tight as it could be. I will probably seek future installments of this medieval mystery series. This review is based on an advance e-galley received from the publisher through NetGalley with the expectation of an honest review in exchange.

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

The Spook in the Stacks

Gates, Eva. The Spook in the Stacks. New York: Crooked Lane Books, 2018.

Once again Lucy, the staff, and patrons of the Lighthouse Library, located on North Carolina's Outer Banks, find themselves in the midst of a murder. The victim,a former area resident who planned to donate his collection of valuable historical documents to the library, dies at a library event, and Lucy finds him. Until the evening of the murder, his finalists list for the collection also included Blackmore College's history department. His granddaughter and curator accompanied him to the Outer Banks, immediately becoming suspects. Lucy's boyfriend Connor seeks re-election as mayor, spending much of his time, campaigning. Butch, the detective, warns Lucy against detecting, but somehow the mystery seeks her out. Louise Jane enthralls guests with her haunting stories of local ghosts while Lucy spots her first one and some inexplicable happenings with a model ship on loan from Louise Jane. Although light and cozy, the book keeps the reader engaged. Some portions, particularly in the first few chapters, seemed a bit repetitious, providing details such as Lucy's living arrangements in more than one location. I received an advance electronic copy from the publisher via NetGalley with expectations of an honest review.

Wednesday, June 06, 2018

Unofficial Guide to Ancestry.com

Hendrickson, Nancy. Unofficial Guide to Ancestry.com: How to Find Your Family History on the #1 Genealogy Website. Revised and updated ed. Cincinnati: Family Tree Books, 2018.

Author Nancy Hendrickson describes using the Ancestry.com site. The book, aimed at new researchers more than experienced ones, contains good comment, but often comes up a bit short. For example, although she cautions new users about accepting information from trees if it appears wrong, she really fails to tell them they should never add the tree as a source but instead should verify the information and add it manually after it is verified. While she is correct that uploading information from a GEDcom file is quicker, she fails to mention reasons for not doing so--and many exist. In the chapters on using AncestryDNA, she fails to mention some of the tips leading genetic genealogists suggest. For example, she tells readers to email those who do not have a tree without telling them how they may be able to find an unattached tree by checking the match's profile or how the connection may be determined by looking at "shared matches." In fact, she never mentions "shared matches." She also failed to mention and caution users about some of the weaker databases such as some of the public records collections lacking dates and some of the collections drawn from older user-submitted sources which contain errors. Of course, the author could not anticipate the problems tree sync users currently experience due to some data migration issues. She could not anticipate the problems with the Rootsweb portions of the site which resulted in long outages for some resources and continuing outages for others. Most supplemental resources suggested appear to be mostly sources from the book's publisher rather than using the "best sources" for acquiring additional subject information. Recommended only for true beginners, but with the caution to supplement with additional resources and webinars to gain a better picture of the power of Ancestry and to understand the genealogical proof standard which did not appear to be a consideration of the author. I received an electronic copy for review purposes from the publisher through NetGalley with the expectation of an honest review.

Tuesday, June 05, 2018

Fire in the Thatch

Lorac, E. C. R. Fire in the Thatch. Scottsdale, Arizona: Poisoned Pen Press, 2018.

This clever mystery featuring Detective Inspector MacDonald sends him to a rural Devon community where Nicholas Vaughan, a very private man, burned in the home he leased. At first glance, it appears to be an accidental fire, but things don't add up in the death of the meticulous and well-liked man. A man who tried to lease or purchase the same property, known as "Little Thatch," questions the man's identity. MacDonald finds the missing pieces, leading to the murderer's motive and identity. This installment is one of the better reads in the British Library Crime Classics series. I received an electronic copy from the publisher through NetGalley with the expectation of an honest review.

Friday, June 01, 2018

What is a "stave dealer"?

Background: Today's post was going to be about a research breakthrough, but I ran into something needing resolution before the intended post can be published. I worked many hours on the problem, but it may require more resources than available online. I'll keep working on it, and hopefully its resolution will be found.

An alternate post needed creation. While researching the problem, I came across an occupation called "stave dealer." I looked up the definition of the word "stave," finding it is a piece of wood used in making barrels. An entry for the occupation "Cooper" in a mid-nineteenth century British publication explained:

The business of a Cooper is to make vessels for the safe keeping of liquids. Those vessels are made of different kinds of wood, oak being generally used for the larger vessels where the staves are required to be of great length and thickness. They are cut before they are imported into England from the Baltic, and are sold to the Cooper by the stave-merchant who imports them. Staves are sent here cut to the lengths required for various sorts of vessels, and are sold under the following designations: viz. pipe staves, five feet, six inches in length, two inches thick, and six inches wide; hogshead staves, four feet long; barrel staves, three feet, six inches; there are also long and short headings of various sizes. The stave-merchant sorts them for the Cooper, according to the quality required calling them best and seconds. There are a vast quantity of staves imported from Canada; but though they are finer in the grain and make up better to the eye than the staves of the north of Europe, they are not found to be so durable.*

Other online sources indicate the stave industry thrived in the United States as well. The stave dealer I found worked in Illinois.


* N. Whitlock, J. Bennett, J. Badcock, C. Newton, et al. The Complete Book of Trades, or the Parent's Guide and Youth's Instructor in the Choice of a Trade or Profession . . . London: Thomas Tegg, 1842, pp. 160-161.