Throwback Thursday: The Somme Legacy by M J Lee


Throwback Thursday is a weekly meme hosted by Renee at It’s Book Talk.  It’s designed as an opportunity to share old favourites as well as books that we’ve finally got around to reading that were published over a year ago.  If you decide to take part, please link back to It’s Book Talk.

Today I’m revisiting a book that I reviewed in the early days of my blog: The Somme Legacy by M J Lee, an intriguing genealogical mystery published in January 2017.  In fact, I believe the book’s blog tour was the first I ever took part in when I started blogging.

the-somme-legacy-cover-large-ebookAbout the Book

July 1, 1916. The Somme, France. A British Officer prepares to go over the top on the first day of the Battle of the Somme.

March 28, 2016. Manchester. England. Genealogical investigator Jayne Sinclair, a former police detective, is commissioned by a young teacher to look into the history of his family. The only clues are a medallion with purple, white and green ribbons, and an old drawing of a young woman.  Her quest leads to a secret buried in the trenches of World War One for over 100 years. Who was the real heir to the Lappiter millions? From the author of the best selling, The Irish Inheritance, comes a gripping new book revealing family secrets hidden in the fog of war.

Format: ebook (297 pp.)                       Publisher: 4th Estate
Published: 12th January 2017              Genre: Historical Fiction, Mystery

Purchase Links* ǀ
*links provided for convenience, not as part of any affiliate programme

Find The Somme Legacy on Goodreads

My Review

The Somme Legacy is the second book in the Jayne Sinclair genealogical mystery series (the first being The Irish Inheritance) but it definitely works well as a stand-alone story.

Jayne takes on what seems an impossible case – not only finding the proof that will allow her client, Mark Russell, to submit a claim on the Lappiter estate but doing so in only seven days. After this, if unclaimed, the estate will pass to the Crown. The key to her client’s case is finding evidence of the marriage between Mark’s great grandfather, Captain David Russell, the eldest son of Lord Lappiter, and Rose Clarke – a marriage that all the records say never took place.  Despite the difficulties and in the face of opposition from Mark’s father, Jayne decides to take on the case.

Jayne is an engaging protagonist with an interesting back story. I particularly liked the relationship between Jayne and her father. You get the sense that she embraces the case as much to give her a sense of purpose again as for financial reward. In fact, Jayne begins to feel a real connection and, perhaps sense of female solidarity, with Rose Clarke.  ‘She was going to find out what happened to Rose Clarke, with or without the help of the Russells. She owed this woman something for all she had suffered in her fight for other women. Even now, over 100 years later, Jayne felt she could still right the wrongs of the past. It was why she did what she did.’

The book alternates between the present day search for evidence and the story of David and Rose from the time of their first meeting in 1913. I thought David and Rose were incredibly well-drawn, believable characters and there was a real sense of authenticity about the scenes set in the past, particularly the details of Rose’s involvement in the suffragette movement. In fact, David and Rose’s story would have made a good book in its own right!   I did feel that the characters (both in the past and present) trying to thwart the Russells’ claim tended a little bit towards the ‘pantomime villain’. Personally, I felt there was sufficient jeopardy created by the looming deadline.

The descriptions of the genealogical sources available and the mechanics of searching historical records had a real sense of authenticity. This story would be perfect for fans of Heir Hunters, Who Do You Think You Are or anyone who has either researched their family history or thought about doing so. Equally, it will appeal to lovers of historical fiction set during the First World War.

This was a very satisfying, entertaining story which resisted the temptation to provide a saccharine ending.  I received an advance reader copy courtesy of the author and Neverland Blog Tours in return for an honest review.

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In three words: Entertaining, well-researched, mystery

Try something similar… The Dream Shelf by Jeff  Russell (click here to read my review)

leeAbout the Author

Martin has spent most of his adult life writing in one form or another. As a University researcher in history, he wrote pages of notes on reams of obscure topics. As a social worker with Vietnamese refugees, he wrote memoranda. And, as the creative director of an advertising agency, he has written print and press ads, TV commercials, short films and innumerable backs of cornflake packets and hotel websites. He has spent 25 years of his life working outside the North of England – in London, Hong Kong, Taipei, Singapore, Bangkok and Shanghai, winning awards from Cannes, One Show, D&AD, New York and London Festivals, and the United Nations. Whilst working in Shanghai, he loved walking through the old quarter of that amazing city, developing the idea behind a series of crime novels featuring Inspector Pyotr Danilov, set in the 1920s and 30s. When he’s not writing, he splits his time between the UK and Asia, taking pleasure in playing with his daughter, practicing downhill ironing, single-handedly solving the problem of the French wine lake and wishing he were George Clooney.

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