Sunday, March 11, 2007

Fun Genealogical Fiction: Torie O'Shea Mysteries

There are lots of fun "genealogy" based works of fiction out there, but my favorite is Rett MacPherson's series of "Torie O'Shea Mysteries." Torie O'Shea is a genealogist in a small predominantly German town in Missouri. She works at the local Historical Museum, and her genealogical activities usually have her on the hunt to solve various mysteries that crop up.

I enjoy the mild humor and the down to earth characters. In each book we find Torie, her husband and children, her wheelchair bound mother and the local sheriff, who is married to Torie's mom. There is also a great "supporting cast" of local friends and neighbors that carry over from book to book. As a heroine, Torie is likable, plucky and irreverent.

The picture that MacPherson paints of a small Missouri town of German heritage is very familiar to me. Although "New Kassel" is fictional, it could easily be based any of the typical little German towns that line the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers.

The list of Torie O'Shea Mysteries is getting longer:

1997 Family Skeletons
1998 A Veiled Antiquity
1999 A Comedy of Heirs
2000 A Misty Mourning
2002 Killing Cousins
2003 Blood Relations
2004 In Sheep's Clothing
2005 Thicker Than Water
2006 Dead Man Running
2007 Died in the Wool

I started with Family Skeletons, and have worked my way down the list. I just checked out Dead Man Running from my local library, and am looking forward to starting it. They are definitely light reading -- but I enjoy the genealogical references, and watching Torie use her research skills and resources to solve each mystery.

If you have any favorite genealogy-related fiction books, please leave your recommendations in the "Comments" section below.

Enjoy the books!


Liz Adair said...

I'm a writer who has used family history for settings and characterization in three of my books--the Spider Latham Mystery series, alas now out of print, but available used at I happened upon your web site while doing research for a pamphlet on Using Family History in Fiction to accompany the workshops I teach on the subject. I find that people who would like to write family history but who are intimidated by footnotes find fictionalizing their ancestors' (or their own) stories quite liberating. I've got a page on my web site at about some of the family history I've used.

Oh, and I blog about it, too. Do you ever exchange links? My blog is at and I can be reached at if you'd like to trade links.

Thanks for the tip on the Torie O'Shea Mysteries. I'll give them a try.

Cricket said...

Liz -- I'm glad you found my blog! I checked out your Family Writers blog, and have added it to my blogroll!

Genealogy might be facts and dates, but it's the "story" in history that makes it come to life!

Thanks for taking the time to add a comment here -- I'm looking forward to reading more of your blog! said...

I love the Torie O'Shea mysteries & her carefully developed characters - I even have a soft spot for Sylvia! As a genealogist, I appreciate the references and accurate procedures the protagonist uses to solve the mysteries. I am impressed with Ms MacPherson's knowledge of the field. I am collecting the books by buying them used thru Amazon & have finished 3 of them so far (I'm trying to read them in order, but am a little off).
Nice to find another fan.
Jean Wilcox Hibben, PhD, CG