The Lost Empress – Steve Robinson

This is one of a series of books involving Jefferson Tayte – a genealogist who seems to get involved in present day mysteries and attempt to solve them by linking to past events. In this tale surrounding the sinking of the Empress of Ireland, he looks for links between a passenger who apparently died in the sinking, and a 2014 murder in England. The Empress of Ireland was a real ocean liner which sank in May 1914 following a collision with another ship on the St Lawrence River. Over a thousand passengers were lost, making it the largest maritime accident in Canada in peacetime. The story draws heavily on the political situation in Europe during early 1914, and slips effortlessly between centuries as the story develops between events of spring 1914 and repercussions in 2014. It is clear that the author is experienced with genealogy, showing sound search techniques without making the story less accessible to the reader who may not be familiar with them. I loved this book – it was engaging from page one, and held that interest throughout. It has everything from romance and murder through political intrigue, blackmail, and treason to family loyalties and spies. It would be a shame to spoil the tale with much detail, suffice it to say that the life and loves of Alice Stillwell in the early part of the twentieth century, have far reaching effects for her family and country a hundred years later. Investigator Tayte is a most likeable chap, and may not be as naive as those trying to hide the truth might think……….. I would highly recommend this book, it’s a cracking story, and very appropriate to be published in this centenary year following World War one. Thanks to the publishers for giving me an advance copy to review – The Lost empress was published on 21 October.

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