Jayne Sinclair is a former police detective, now turned private genealogical researcher. An elderly American dying of cancer gives her what looks to be an almost impossible task: identify his birth parents. All he knows is that, when he was 4, he was adopted from a British orphanage by an American family. He has a photo of his and his adopted father at that time and a book. The child is desperately clutching the book in the photograph: The Lives of the United Irishmen. His birth certificate lists the names of his birth parents. The only problem is that his father died in World War I, six years before the elderly man was born.
Jayne sets to work. Her husband Paul is not impressed; their marriage is foundering, and Jayne always seems more interested in work than in trying to salvage their relationship. And he’s right; she believes their marriage is dead.
The research task looks almost impossible, and Jayne has only eight days to complete it. Her client is dying from leukemia, and he must return to the United States. Slowly, she makes progress. And she will eventually discover something the reader knows long before she does: someone doesn’t want her to complete the research and has gone so far as to hire a hit man to take care of the problem if necessary. And then elements of the IRA get involved.
The Irish Inheritance is the first of seven Jayne Sinclair genealogical mysteries by British author M.J. Lee, and it’s a fast-paced, action-packed story that not only entertains but also teaches some 20th century Irish history. Lee alternates the story between Sinclair’s investigation in 2015 with what happened during the Irish Easter Rebellion in 1916 and the uprising against British rule in the early 1920s.
In addition to the Jayne Sinclair mysteries, Lee has also published two other crime-related series, the Ridpath series and the Danilov series. He’s also the author of Samuel Pepys and the Stolen Diary. Writing as Martin Lee, he’s published The Fall, a historical novel about the fall of Singapore during World War II. He lives in the United Kingdom.
If you like genealogy tied to a current-day mystery, The Irish Inheritance is written for you. And if you only like a good mystery story, it’s written for you as well.