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17 October 2014

The Emerald Comb by Kathleen McGurl

This book ticks a lot of boxes for me. History, genealogy, and more than one mystery – what could possibly go wrong? The short answer, nothing. 

The author had me from the book’s blurb. I have files of family records, certificates marking the births, marriages and deaths of relatives, so I knew I’d find the fictional digging of Katie entertaining – to say the least. 

There are many clichés involved with family trees and it would have been easy for the author to have padded her plot with them all. But very cleverly she drew me along as a very interested bystander.

As a time-slip novel, the reader is taken back to the 19th century – learning the detail that Katie might discover in her research. But anyone who has undertaken tracing their tree knows how frustrating it is to see the facts, but not the flesh – much like Katie.

Towards the end of the book I so wanted Katie to know what I knew, but of course that can't necessarily happen. There will always be gaps in our research. But how wonderful it was to read of the St Clairs, Katie’s ancestors, putting all family history into perspective. 

This is a clever novel. I found it gripping – the change of pace as I was torn from the 19th century and into the 21st and back again was infuriatingly well-written. I was new to the concept of a ‘time–slip’ novel and the key to its success was that all important pace.

Do you need to be interested in genealogy to enjoy the plot? No, that element is important, but if you're a fan of historical mysteries and want an intelligent and refreshingly different read, this fits the bill.

Just one more chapter... that’s what I kept saying to myself. But when I finished, I almost regretted not savouring it for longer!

The book is available from Amazon: 
The Emerald Comb