Sins of the Fathers

Sins of the Fathers

by Patricia Sprinkle


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"Old family histories and...secrets, combined with smooth, suspenseful writing, make this a new series a reading pleasure!" -Margaret Maron

Katharine Murray is a typical Atlanta housewife, but she's far from ordinary. She's found a fascinating distraction from her empty nest in researching family history and genealogy. And it seems that she can put her genealogy-sleuth skills to work, helping her friend Dr. Flo Gadney, a retired professor, track down her own family tree.

Their search takes them to an old graveyard on an island off the coast of Georgia-just as greedy local patriarch Burch Bayard is about to start building sparkly new McMansions all over the island-including the gravesite-a property scheme that would literally bury any local history.

But as they hunt for clues to Flo's past, the two friends soon realize that the islanders are trying to keep Flo's connection to Bayard Island dead and buried along with her ancestors!

The mysterious murder of a combative local confirms their suspicions, forcing the women to embark on a dangerous chase to unravel the truth. Together, Katherine and Flo will dig up more than Georgia dirt, unearthing secrets to the island's history that could make the whole town crumble.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781542549523
Publisher: CreateSpace Publishing
Publication date: 01/13/2017
Pages: 418
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.85(d)

About the Author

Patricia Sprinkle decided in ninth grade to become a writer, a goal that remained with her as she went on to study creative writing at Vassar College. After a life-changing, deadline-free stint living in the Scottish Highlands, Sprinkle returned to the United States to settle down with her husband and kids in Atlanta, Georgia, whereupon she found her calling in the genre of mystery. Since 1988, Sprinkle has written twenty mysteries,
four novels, and five non-fiction books. She later returned to the world of academia and attended Florida International University for a Masters of Arts in Religious Studies with a focus on religion and literature. She currently lives in Mableton, Georgia.

Read an Excerpt

Sins of the Fathers

Chapter One

He was a big man, about my height with a little more flesh on his heavy frame. His eyebrows, arched and prominent, were still black. The hair on his head was iron gray, combed straight back, giving his massive head a leonine appearance. He had been wearing glasses but had placed them on the oak table between us. His dark brown eyes kept searching my face for secret messages. If he found any, his eyes didn't reflect them. His features were sharply chiseled—a hawk-bill nose, a fullmouth, a craggy jawline—but the full effect of his face was as a blank stone tablet waiting for someone to scratch commandments on it.

He said, "I dont know very much about you, Scudder."

I knew a little about him. His name was Cale Hanniford. He was around fifty-five years old. He lived upstate in Utica where he had a wholesale drug business and some real estate holdings. He had last year's Cadillac parked outside at the curb. He had a wife waiting for him in his room at the Carlyle.

He had a daughter in a cold steel drawer at the city mortuary.

"There's not much to know," I said. "I used to be a cop."

"An excellent one, according to Lieutenant Koehler."

I shrugged.

"And now you're a private detective."


"I thought--"

"Private detectives are licensed. They tap telephones and follow people. They fill out forms, they keep records, all of that. I don't do those things. Sometimes I do favors for people. They give me gifts."

"I see."

I took a sip of coffee. I was drinking coffee spiked with bourbon. Hanniford had a Dewar's and water in front of him but wasn't taking muchinterest in it. We were in Armstrong's, a good sound saloon with dark wood walls and a stamped tin ceiling. It was two in the afternoon on the second Tuesday in January, and we had the place pretty much to ourselves. A couple of nurses from Roosevelt Hospital were nursing beers at the far end of the bar, and a kid with a tentative beard was eating a hamburger at one of the window tables.

He said, "It's difficult for me to explain what I want you to do for me, Scudder."

"I'm not sure that there's anything I can do for you. Your daughter is dead. I can't change that. The boy who killed her was picked up on the spot. From what I read in the papers, it couldn't be more open-and-shut if they had the homicide on film." His face darkened; he was seeing that film now, the knife slashing. I went on quickly. "They picked him up and booked him and slapped him in the Tombs. That was Thursday?" He nodded. "And Saturday morning they found him hanging in his cell. Case closed."

"Is that your view? That the case is closed?"

"From a law enforcement standpoint."

"That's not what I meant. Of course the police have to see it that way. They apprehended the killer, and he's beyond punishment." He leaned forward. "But there are things I have to know."

"Like what?"

"I want to know why she was killed. I want to know who she was. I've had no real contact with Wendy in the past three years. Christ, I didn't even know for certain that she was living in New York." His eyes slipped away from mine. "They say she didn't have a job. No apparent source of income. I saw the building she lived in. I wanted to go up to her apartment, but I couldn't. Her rent was almost four hundred dollars a month. What does that suggest to you?"

"That some man was paying her rent."

"She shared that apartment with the Vanderpoel boy. The boy who killed her. He worked for an antiques importer. He earned something in the neighborhood of a hundred and twenty-five dollars a week. If a man were keeping her as his mistress, he wouldn't let her have Vanderpoel as a roommate, would he?" He drew a breath. "I guess it must be fairly obvious that she was a prostitute. The police didn't tell me that in so many words. They were tactful. The newspapers were somewhat less tactful."

They usually are. And the case was the kind the newspapers like to play with. The girl was attractive, the murder took place in the Village, and there was a nice core of sex to it. And they had picked up Richard. Vanderpoel running in the streets with her blood all over him. No city editor worth a damn would let that one slide past him.

He said, "Scudder? Do you see why the case isn't closed for me?"

"I guess I do." I made myself look deep into his dark eyes. "The murder was a door starting to open for you. Now you have to know what's inside the room."

"Then you do understand."

I did, and wished I didn't. I had not wanted the job. I work as infrequently as I can. I had no present need to work. I don't need much money. My room rent is cheap, my day-to-day expenses low enough. Besides, I had no reason to dislike this man. I have always felt more comfortable taking money from men I dislike.

"Lieutenant Koehler didn't understand what I wanted. I'm sure he only gave me your name as a polite way of getting rid of me." That wasn't all there was to it, but I let it pass. "But I really need to know these things. Who was she? Who did Wendy turn into? And why would anyone want to kill her?"

Why did anyone want to kill anybody? The act of murder is performed four or five...

Sins of the Fathers. Copyright © by Patricia Sprinkle. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

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Sins of the Fathers (Family Tree Mystery Series #2) 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 8 reviews.
BookLoverInNeLA More than 1 year ago
This second story of the Family Tree mystery series starts in Katharine's home, which was vandalized in the first book. Katharine is overwhelmed with the task of restoring her home since her husband is once again called to his job. When a casual friend, Dr. Flo Gandy, asks Katharine to accompany her on a trip to find her grandfather's grave, Katharine accepts. Dr. Flo Gandy, college professor, is an an elegant, black woman. She was informed by a lawyer that he needs her permission to relocate what is believed to be her grandfather's grave as the existing cemetary is fixing to be moved to another site. Developers are ready to build homes on this island and Flo wants to see where her grandfather is buried and why he is buried at this location. Join Katharine and Dr. Flo on this adventure. You will see genealogists in action and learn some methods genealogists use to track down their family history. You'll also learn that sometimes ignorance is bliss as Dr. Flo learns some things about her family that she wasn't ready to know. I recommend this book for any mystery and genealogy lovers.
cbl_tn on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Several weeks after her house was broken into and trashed, Katharine Murray is spending most of her time seeing to repairs and shopping for new furnishings. Katharine hates shopping, so it didn't take much persuasion for her to agree to accompany her friend, Dr. Flo Gadney, to one of Georgia's islands to research her family history. The island's owner has plans to develop the island, but needs to move the graves in an old family cemetery. One of the graves may be the burial place of Dr. Flo's grandfather, and Dr. Flo may be a long-lost cousin. Just one problem. The Bayards are white, and Dr. Flo is not. How far will the Bayards go to keep Dr. Flo from digging into her family roots?I liked the genealogy aspect of the story, but it wasn't strong enough to carry the whole book. The story got off to a slow start, spending more time than necessary on Katharine's frustration at having to shoulder most of the responsibility for putting her home in order while her husband spends his work weeks in Washington, DC. The "old boyfriend who recently moved to town" storyline is an unnecessary distraction from the mystery plot. Eventually a murder occurs, as well as further violence. There are several suspects on the island, but their characters are not developed, nor is the motive adequately explained.I love this author's Thoroughly Southern mystery series. So far this Family Tree series hasn't grabbed me.
thornton37814 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Katharine Murray goes along with her friend Dr. Flo Gadney to Bayard Island when a developer plans to disinter a possible relative of Dr. Flo's. The novel explores some of Georgia's coastal history and shows racial prejudice. I loved the genealogical portions of the novel. There were some great quotes such as this one from page 5: "She hadn't started researching her own family, so she hadn't yet experienced the excitement of finding a sought-after piece in a genealogy puzzle." However, the author did not do a very good job of dealing with an 1880 census record early in the book. (The 1880 census was the first to list the relationship of each person to the head of the household, and the author neglected to mention this.) I feel that the novel bogged down in many places with things that really had little impact on the plot. I think the author could have done a better job in developing the characters on the island, particularly in respect to the murderer. I'm not sure I really understand the motivation that led to the murder. A superficial motive was given, but it left the reader with more questions than answers. As a genealogist, I really want to love this series, but I'm finding that I don't really feel connected with the main characters.
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