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Pale as the Dead: A Genalogical Mystery (Natasha Blake, Ancestor Detective, Book 1) Mass Market Paperback – August 2, 2005


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Mass Market Paperback, August 2, 2005
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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 292 pages
  • Publisher: Signet (August 2, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0451216172
  • ISBN-13: 978-0451216175
  • Product Dimensions: 6.8 x 4.2 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,257,574 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Students of the Pre-Raphaelites, perhaps more than whodunit fans, will welcome British author Mountain's literate debut mystery introducing genealogist Natasha Blake. Still struggling with the scars caused by her belated discovery that she was adopted, the sympathetic Natasha finds herself venturing beyond her usual line of inquiry when Bethany Marshall, a young woman who had modeled for a series of art photographs, disappears. Suspecting that there may be a connection between Bethany and the Victorian model Lizzie Siddal, the suicidal wife of the painter Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Blake taps her network of researchers to test her theories. Her activities lead her into an ambiguous relationship with Adam Mason, Bethany's boyfriend, and possible peril from mysterious figures who follow her and break into her flat. She diligently pursues numerous trails, encountering a fair number of dead ends before hitting on a clue to Bethany's past that could provide evidence relevant to some suspicious sudden deaths. An anticlimactic resolution may leave readers feeling a bit cheated. Still, the premise of a genealogist sleuth holds plenty of potential, which hopefully the author will better realize in her next entry in the series.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

Natasha Blake is a professional genealogist, fueled in part by her own life: as an adopted child, she knows almost nothing of her biological parentage. From her Cotswolds cottage, where she lives with her dog, Boris, and the memories of a severed relationship, she is drawn into the work of Adam, a compelling young photographer, and his model Bethany. He's reproducing in photographs images from the paintings of the nineteenth-century Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood; Bethany is obsessed with Lizzie Siddal Rossetti of that circle, who died of a laudanum overdose. When Bethany disappears, Natasha uses the tools of her trade--birth and census records, a journal kept in Bethany's family, and endless reels of microfilm--to tease out where she might have gone and why. First-novelist Mountain captures the silken creepiness of much of the pre-Raphaelite story without quite revealing its gorgeous artistic legacy. Natasha is a mystery, too, and readers will be eager to meet her again. GraceAnne DeCandido
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Customer Reviews

3.2 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By D. K. Stokes on September 1, 2005
Genealogist Natasha Blake is asked to find a photographer Adam's missing girlfriend Bethany, because the young woman is obsessed with an artist's model from 100+ years ago, and the only clue he has is that she left him a journal from one of her ancestors.

The good:

The genealogical investigation itself. It was fascinating, with its blend of historical and fictional characters, and the convincing way in which one clue leads to another.

The characters, particularly genealogist Natasha Blake and the artist's model Bethany Marshall. They're richly drawn and understandable.

The tone. The story has a dreamy, at times almost surreal feel to it, fitting perfectly with the art.

The research. It was very thorough, providing rich detail without resorting to infodumps.

The bad:

The premise. It didn't seem realistic that Adam would ask a genealogist to find his missing girlfriend, or that there was any reason to believe she could be successful.

The attraction between Natasha and Adam. It threw me every time it came up, because I couldn't see a foundation for it or point to it.

The solution. There was a lot of build-up, but the ending itself was anticlimactic.

The verdict:

I liked the main character and the genealogical investigation enough to recommend this one with reservations, and to check out the next one.
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By LiterateMuse on October 30, 2009
Reads like a romance novel. Takes forever to get going, and really doesn't end up going any place. The heroine is too self-involved, - ringlets & damp-curls around her face not-with-standing. Not my cup of tea.
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By Amazon Customer on February 21, 2007
Verified Purchase
A great book for those interested in genealogy. Keeps you on your toes to the very end.
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By AMOVIEBUFF on December 5, 2006
Being an amateur genealogist and an avid mystery fan I could not resist picking up both novels when I saw them. Add the fact that my daughter is named after the sister of one of the players of the past in the little mystery I thought the novel would be a good reading fit.

It was on several levels. Natasha Blake is an interesting heroine. The genealogical process was well presented and the novel is full of atmosphere.

However I can't say I was enthralled with the other characters very much. Blake's adopted family was a bit "cold" and I did not see the attraction of her father and his proclivities. The missing girl seemed somewhat flighty (as did many of the characters she involved herself with)and as someone mentioned her re-entrance back to the story a bit anticlimatic. As in most of these stories where romance provides a motive or background the male-the photographer Adam Mason-was definitely more interesting but the biggest mystery of the novel was why anyone was attracted to anyone because frankly everyone seemed to be like ships passing in the night in their relationships.

Again the process of discovery of the genealogical family story was well done even if the rationale for the whole investigation was a bit shaky. Genealogy is like that -more of a discovery -an unraveling,time consuming discovery. Most mystery novels have a degree of urgency to reach the resolution which I did not find here. All in all an interesting story-an unusual premise-a decent main character as an investigator.
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