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Sunday, August 22nd 2004

6:32 PM


Tired of the genealogy textbooks? Give your brain a rest and delve into some genealogy fiction with a sinister twist. Read Jackpot Blood and you just might learn a thing or two about genealogy research. In his newest Nick Herald Genealogical Mystery, Jimmy Fox weaves the essence of genealogy research seamlessly into the story with wonderfully long descriptions of real genealogy methods and existing records.

In Jackpot Blood, Nick Herald, professional genealogist, is hired to identify both ancestors and descendants of six core families in the recently recognized Katogoula Indian tribe. Someone, however, wants the tribe's past and present kept a secret. Tribe members are murdered one by one as non-Indians stake out a reservation and casino bosses wine and dine the tribal council. As Nick digs further into the tribe's history, old tribal beliefs resurface and Nick must determine if the killings are human, animal, or spiritual. As an author Fox does his job so well in this book I suspected everyone and everything of having a motive to kill.

Although few of us have the resources to pursue a genealogy to the extent Herald does, genealogists will be enthralled with the genealogical hunt as the story progresses. As Nick explores the tribe's history readers will experience the thrill of rooting out answers in long-forgotten sources and share his triumph when he breaks down a brick wall because he took good paper and pencil notes. Fox also has Nick deal with the everyday annoyances of researching in libraries and old courthouses. Anyone who has ever spent long hours looking at a census will chuckle at Fox's description of a squabble that takes place between Nick and another library patron concerning the use of a microfilm reader. These details make Jackpot Blood not just a great piece of fiction but an exciting genealogy experience.

Jackpot Blood is the third in Jimmy Fox's Nick Herald Genealogical mysteries. I can't say I much liked Nick when I met him in Fox's first book, Deadly Pedigree, but Fox's writing flows so easily that my annoyance with Nick is easily forgotten with each book as I am drawn in to the story and the genealogy. I am eager to find out who Nick's next client is and what mystery their family tree will hold.

If you are interested in finding out what Jimmy Fox has to say about Nick Herald, check out my "Ask the Author" feature in September. Jimmy Fox will be answering my questions and the questions from a select few readers. If you are interested in asking Mr. Fox a question about his books, his own genealogy, or about writing, you can submit questions to me at historyontheshelf@yahoo.com. Each person who submits a qualifying question will be entered into a drawing for a signed copy of Jackpot Blood. Please place the word FOX in the subject line.

JACKPOT BLOOD by Jimmy Fox. 2004. iUniverse, Lincoln, NE. ISBN 0595308864


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