top of page

The Lost Ancestor

(The Forensic Genealogist #2)


From acclaimed author, Nathan Dylan Goodwin comes this exciting new genealogical crime mystery, featuring the redoubtable forensic genealogist, Morton Farrier. When Morton is called upon by Ray Mercer to investigate the 1911 disappearance of his great aunt, a housemaid working in a large Edwardian country house, he has no idea of the perilous journey into the past that he is about to make. Morton must use his not inconsiderable genealogical skills to solve the mystery of Mary Mercer’s disappearance, in the face of the dangers posed by those others who are determined to end his investigation at any cost. This is the second 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 Lost Ancestor.



‘If you enjoy a novel with a keen eye for historical detail, solid writing, believable settings and a sturdy protagonist, The Lost Ancestor is a safe bet. Here British author Nathan Dylan Goodwin spins a riveting genealogical crime mystery with a pulsing, realistic storyline’

Your Family Tree magazine


Finely paced and full of realistic genealogical terms and tricks, this is an enjoyable whodunit with engaging research twists that keep you guessing until the end. If you enjoy genealogical fiction and Ruth Rendell mysteries, you’ll find this a pleasing page-turner

Family Tree magazine


…an extremely well-constructed plot, with plenty of intrigue and genealogical detail - but all the loose ends are neatly tied up by the end…The Lost Ancestor  is highly recommended



It’s an excellent pick for holidays, weekend relaxing, or curling up indoors or outdoors, whatever the weather permits in your corner of the world

Lisa Louise Cooke


The Lost Ancestor is fast-paced, not plodding, and does well building mystery… The author’s depictions of scenes and places are vivid; the characters are interesting and intriguing. In toggling back and forth from past to present, Goodwin shows how the deeds of long-dead ancestors are haunting their descendants


It’s entertaining, and passes the time nicely while setting the chores aside… just the right kind of light reading we need during this time of holiday busyness

Eastman’s Online Genealogy


 ‘Delightful, charming, cunning are simply too simplistic to describe Nathan Dylan Goodwin’s latest genealogical crime mystery, The Lost Ancestor. The surprise ending leaves you thirsting for Nathan’s next book in the Morton Farrier series

Baytown Genealogy Society  


The tale has twists and turns, plots within plots and will keep the reader guessing until the very end. All in all, a nice easy and enjoyable read, with an unexpected twist in the final pages

The Wakefield Kinsman


'This is a good detective story and the genealogical threads by which it is solved add to the enjoyment'

West Middlesex Family History Society



I set about writing The Lost Ancestor as soon as Hiding the Past was released in September 2013. Owing to the positive way in which the book had been received and the way that it (thankfully!) climbed the Amazon charts (peaking at number 7!), I was able to cut my hours as a full-time primary school teacher down to two days. This enabled me to really focus on my writing and to get to grips with the new book.


!SPOILER ALERT! Don't read on if you haven't read The Lost Ancestor and intend to!


The inspiration for The Lost Ancestor came initially from a visit to one of my favourite National Trust properties, Sissinghurst Castle. I can pin-point the exact moment the seed for The Lost Ancestor was sown - the 27th May 2013! I visited the charming property with my family, enjoying a pleasant day out in the sunshine. A new exhibition had been created in one of the barns there, giving a detailed account of the love affair between Vita Sackville West and Harold Nicolson. I was particularly interested in the fact that they raised two children together, despite having numerous affairs between them (with both sexes). It got me thinking...what if two characters couldn't have their own children, but needed to continue their family line? The very basic idea of a prominent, aristocratic family who used a servant to have a child for them, started to grow.


As much as I love Sissinghurst, the setting didn't feel quite right for the story that was beginning to unfold in my head. It needed to be something on a grander scale - a bit like Downton Abbey! In my head I saw lots of domestic servants, rushing about downstairs under not great working conditions. In my mind, Blackfriars, the estate on which the story is set, was a mixture of Highclere CastleLanhydrock House and Horton Priory - an estate close to my home. 


With the story progressing in my mind, I needed to find somewhere to situate Blackfriars. Morton is very much a home boy, loving the counties of Kent and Sussex, so he didn't want far to travel! I've always loved Winchelsea, there is a real sense of the past when you visit the town and the huge church, built to cathedral proportions seems so juxtaposed with the tiny town. Winchelsea was home to a former priory - Greyfriars - so I decided to drop my Blackfriars into the same location. By the way, Greyfriars is not open to the public!


With a basic storyline, a setting and location in place, the rest of the story quickly followed. A few visits to Wincheslea, Lanhydrock and Highclere, plus reading a heap of books on domestic service, and the story was underway! The Lost Ancestor was finished (on time!) in August 2014. A follow-up novella, The Orange Lilies was published in December 2014.


Take a look on Pinterest for some of the locations / photos used in this book!


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


bottom of page