The Spyglass File

British author Nathan Dylan Goodwin’s latest crime mystery about a forensic genealogist

Reviewed by James Pylant

Forensic genealogist Morton Farrier—distracted as he listens to a client tell how she stumbled across the fact that she was adopted—wonders if he’s up to the job. It’s his first new case in weeks, and Farrier senses it’s already going badly. His last two clients came to him with genealogical brick walls which he found unbreakable. Now, though, a new development in the ongoing search for his elusive father breaks Farrier’s concentration. Three days earlier, he was handed unopened letters written forty years later by the father he never knew. Farrier desperately wants to unseal those envelopes and devour every word the letters contain, yet he’s uncertain if he should. Managing to push his dilemma aside, Farrier pores over the file on his new client’s adoption file and focuses on the mystery of her birth mother, Elsie Finch, who gave up her child for adoption as a widow during the Second World War. Elsie’s story, however, is tied to The Spyglass File—a secretive document that poses danger to Farrier when he attempts to access it.

The Spyglass File is Nathan Dylan Goodwin’s fourth novel featuring Morton Farrier as a forensic genealogist who has a penchant for getting himself into life-threatening situations as he seeks the truth. The Spyglass File, not unlike Goodwin’s other books, is a stand-alone volume inspired by actual events. That inspiration came in 2015 when the novelist learned that he had an aunt who—not unlike Morton Farrier’s client—had been given up for adoption during World War II. “Some characters who appear in the book are also real,” explains the author, adding, “I have attempted to make the historical aspects as accurate as possible.” Indeed, Goodwin’s storytelling is carefully woven from extensive research.

The Spyglass File (The Forensic Genealogist) (Volume 4) By Nathan Dylan Goodwin. Softcover, 2016, 282 pp., $12.95. Available from (affiliate link).

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