top of page

The America Ground

(The Forensic Genealogist #4)


Morton Farrier, the esteemed English forensic genealogist, had cleared a space in his busy schedule to track down his own elusive father finally. But he is then presented with a case that challenges his research skills in his quest to find the killer of a woman murdered more than one hundred and eighty years ago. Thoughts of his own family history are quickly and violently pushed to one side as Morton rushes to complete his investigation before other sinister elements succeed in derailing the case.

This is the fourth book in the Morton Farrier genealogical crime mystery series, although it can be enjoyed as a stand-alone story.


Opening pages

Click here to read the first few pages of The America Ground



As in the earlier novels, each chapter slips smoothly from past to present, revealing murderous events as the likeable Morton uncovers evidence in the present, while trying to solve the mystery of his own paternity. Packed once more with glorious detail of records familiar to family historians, The America Ground is a delightfully pacey read

Family Tree magazine


Like most genealogical mysteries this book has several threads, cleverly woven together by the author - and there are plenty of surprises for the reader as the story approaches its conclusion. A jolly good read!



Goodwin’s stories have been good reads, engaging the interest of the genealogist with references to records…Readers will welcome this new book as a welcome distraction from the intensity of research to reading about someone else’s work, with murder thrown in

Eastman’s Online Genealogy Newsletter


Great reading - a real page-turner! Good solid genealogy research – highly recommended

Genealogy Happy Hour


It’s just a terrific book! It’s great stuff, I’ve read it, and you’re going to enjoy it

Extreme Genes


The writing is pin-sharp and there is plenty of suspense in an excellent novel which makes me want to return to the first books in the series

The Norfolk Ancestor


This is a good crime novel with links to family history and in it you have the best of both worlds…the twisting story will keep you guessing to the last page

The Wakefield Kinsman


I found this book to be innovative and clever, both interesting and challenging. It is a book of layers, including personal and historical research, rather like "sliding doors" through flashbacks and with the continual  building of information gained from many, varied sources...A  beaut book that has it all - a little fun, fear and drama, all used to solve an old puzzle that reaches out from the past. Do yourself a favour and read this enjoyable book

Genealoigcal Society of the Northern Territory




Ever since I heard about the true story of The America Ground, I was fascinated by it and felt there was certainly a story there waiting to be written! Briefly, this is the true story, around which I have woven the latest Morton Farrier adventure:


Over several hundred years, severe storms silted up Hastings Harbour, creating a piece of land that Hastings Corporation initially felt to be outside of its jurisdiction. Rope-makers moved onto the site, making use of the great expanses of desolate land on which to lay out their ropes. Needing somewhere to stay during inclement weather, the hulks of condemned vessels began to appear on the land. At this time, building developments were springing up in Hastings and the foundations of the new seaside town of St Leonards were being built. This led to a great influx of labourers looking for cheap accommodation; by 1822 plots of land were being snatched up along the ropewalks of the Priory Ground. Buildings of brick, stone and timber were erected, alongside more humble shacks. By the mid 1820s, there were around 195 houses and businesses on the land, home to over one thousand people. Among the butchers, bakers, slaughterhouses and rope-makers, was a gin palace called the Black Horse, run by a man named Daniel Thomas. At some point in the 1820s, attempts were made to exert control over the lawless occupants of the Priory Ground, which were met with fierce resistance. The people of the Priory Ground reacted with hostility, hoisting the American Stars and Stripes and declaring themselves to be an independent state of America. From then on, the Priory Ground became known as the America Ground, with the occupants referring to themselves as Americans. This area of Hastings is still known by this name today.


So, after conducting some basic research into The America Ground (around the time that I was writing The Lost Ancestor), I began to construct the fictional story, which would run through this interesting period in Hastings' history. I settled on a fictional family who owned and ran the America Ground gin palace, The Black Horse. I borrowed the delightful Lovekin surname from my research into workhouses - A Mrs Sally Lovekin was the guardian of the Hastings Workhouse in the early 1800s. 


Added to this, of course, was the sub-narrative of Morton's personal life and quest to find his own family history. I won't say too much about that...let's just say he makes some steady progress! 


I hope you enjoy reading the book! 

Take a look at Pinterest to see some photos / research used in the writing of  the book.



Click the red marker balloons in the map below to see some of the real locations used in The America Ground.


bottom of page