Book of the Day

The Spyglass File by Nathan Dylan Goodwin / Reviewed by Jeanie Stewart

The Spyglass File

By Nathan Dylan Goodwin

ISBN 978-1537228532
Published August 30, 2016

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Killer Nashville Reader’s Choice Award

The Spyglass File

Killer Nashville review by Jeanie Stewart

For readers who like history with their mystery, The Spyglass File by Nathan Dylan Goodwin will be a treat. It is the fourth installment in The Forensic Genealogist series. The protagonist, Morton Farrier is — you guessed it — a forensic genealogist. While researching his own biological father, he is hired by a woman to find out about her biological mother, Elsie Finch, who gave her up for adoption during WWII.

Morton moves through red tape like a real genealogist. Quickly uncovering the facts of Elsie’s life. She was a young bride in 1940 Britain, whose husband went missing and was presumed dead at The Battle of Dunkirk. Rather than sit at home knitting, Elsie joins the Woman’s Auxiliary Air Force and moves into a dreary room in her mother-in-law’s house. She quickly moves up the ranks in the WAAF as part of the Y-service, where she translates and decodes the chatter of German pilots to figure out where they will bomb next. But, her personal life doesn’t go as smoothly. Her husband’s strange family seems to hate her, people come and go from her life, and when she becomes pregnant the complications become serious.

Who is the baby’s father? What happened to him? What happened to Elsie after the baby’s birth? Every answer seems to hinge on the mysterious document called the Spyglass File; and someone does not want Morton to find it. Who? Why? Morton is lied to. His computer files are wiped out. He is physically attacked by and warned to stop the search. But Morton keeps digging.

The plot is well-paced. The WWII settings are detailed without reading like a text book. The characters are varied and well drawn. Goodwin is able to move the story back and forth from the present to WWII seamlessly — all the while giving plenty of action in both time periods. The Spyglass File is both a historical mystery and a frame story similar to Fanny Flagg’s The All Girl Filling Station’s Last Reunion. This book will appeal to readers who like genealogy, mystery, history, and even romance.

Jeanie Stewart has been a mother, grandmother, speaker, freelance editor, teacher, and library director, but before, during, and after these, she was a writer. Her first novel was published in 1997. Eight books followed in Bantam’s SVU series, including thrillers: Don’t Answer the Phone and Deadly Terror.   She has published 9 children’s books for Steck-Vaughn and Rigby. Ten Book Summer won the Missouri Writer’s Guild 2002 award for Best Juvenile book. New Coach Blues won the same award in 2004. Shifting Ground won MWG’s award for best book about Missouri. She has also published numerous short stories and articles for children and adults.