Hiding the Past is about Morton Farrier, a forensic genealogist on the cusp of forty, and his investigation into his client’s death. Peter Coldrick lacks details about his deceased father, James Coldrick and he hires Farrier to research his father’s birth. Hours after they meet, he dies. Was it suicide or murder? And who was James Coldrick? Another storyline explores Farrier’s personal life. His mother passed away when him a teen and the author delves into his estranged relationship with his father and military brother, Jeremy plus that between him and his crime officer girlfriend, Juliette. Goodwin deals with adoption, the impact of family secrets once revealed and parental illness.
The two-hundred and fifteen page book is set in England and begins June 6, 1944 with a short Prologue. There are twenty-one chapters; seventeen in 2013 entitled with the day of the week and four dated spanning a period during World War Two from April 4, 1944 to June 6, 1944. The plot switches back and forth showing how the past instigated the current predicament. The passage of time vis-à-vis the present, however, is muddled and a clearer indication of such would have raised the stakes for Morton Farrier and heightened the novel’s tension.
Hiding the Past will appeal to those interested in solving family mysteries. With this regard, the author deserves credit for the various tools Morton Farrier utilizes to substantiate facts about James Coldrick. These include: photo analysis, document review, archives research, Google maps, internet searches, probate indexes, coat of arms study, memorabilia and DNA.
A clever tale, the following well-crafted descriptive phrases bear mention:
“He was a small, thin boy with dark hair, dark eyes and a neat pillow-scar than ran down his left cheek.” (Chapter Three: six year old Finlay Coldrick)
“The house was a ramshackle, wooden construction with a lopsided garage slumped to one side, having lost the will to live countless years ago.” (Chapter Nine)
There are verbal redundancies, however, where editing would improve writing. For example, “cursory glance,” “fat, swollen droplets of rain,” and “pulled his coat in tightly.”
Nathan Dylan Goodwin pens a satisfying conclusion; the mystery of James Coldrick’s identity is solved and the truth behind Peter Coldrick’s death, revealed. Morton Farrier also resolves his personal issues. Hiding the Past is an engaging read.