The Family Tree Mystery (2022) by Peter Bartram

July 1967. Colin Crampton is still working the beat as the Brighton Evening Chronicle crime reporter when his girlfriend, the Australian Shirley Goldsmith, drops a bombshell on him. Not that she’s finally decided whether or not to accept his proposal, but that she’s discovered that she’s found some descendants that she never knew she had – indeed one of the, Hobart Birthwhistle, has just got in touch with her to arrange a meeting.

When Colin and Shirley arrive at Hobart’s house, however, its only to find his dead body on the living room floor. It seems that everything ties back to the death of an Australian gold prospector and his partner many years previously and a missing nugget of gold that, if found, would belong to the heir of the family. Which puts Shirley right in the path of the murderer…

Book 7 of the Deadline Murder series, which is the tenth Colin Crampton novel, not counting three novellas and a book of short stories… No, I’ve no real idea what the plan behind the different subtitles is. Maybe the plan was to do trilogies and four books into the Deadline one, Peter Bartram decided that was a bit confusing on the marketing front and decided to just run with the Deadline Murder tag. Still this is a series that has always brought a smile to my face and not just because I’m quoted in the blurb on the back. Thank you for that!

So the basic idea for readers who want to get a grip on what sort of books the series contains, they have a line of humour going through them. They variously strike a balance between thriller (there are usually some Brighton gangsters knocking around to provide a bit of threat without being the actual murderer) and whodunit, sometimes leaning more one way that the other. This one certainly felt more of a thriller than an out-and-out whodunit, with plenty of twists and turns along the way.

One other thing to note is that Bartram is adept at juggling a large cast of characters. Various supporting characters from the series return, notably in a subplot about a tell-all biography written by the paper’s editor, but they don’t distract from the main plot concerning the murder.

All in all, the series is an entertaining one that I always look forward to as it doesn’t disappoint. And it didn’t this time either.

Oh, but it could have done without the “one last surprise” line on the blurb, as that did make the last page or two rather inevitable…

For more thoughts on this book, do check out the other stops on the Blog Tour.

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