Book Review: The Sterling Affair

The following book review was written by Bobbi King:

The Sterling Affair
By Nathan Dylan Goodwin. Self-published. 2019. 386 pages.

Readers will be happy to know that this most recent novel of the Morton Farrier series is the longest. Yay, more to read!

Most of Nathan Goodwin’s fans have read all seven of the Farrier books preceding The Sterling Affair. From what I can see, Mr. Goodwin is far and away the most popular author of this admittedly small corner of the fiction book world: the genealogical fiction mystery genre. Even without serious competition, his books are very good.

Morton Farrier is the main character, a forensic genealogist who finds himself drawn into some difficult and dangerous situations as he explores the backgrounds of his clients. And adding quandary to the general state of affairs, Farrier’s own family history can bring disquiet into the mix.

This time Farrier accepts an appeal from a client asking him to identify the man who has taken the identity of her brother, long ago dead. Farrier’s new project pulls him into international intrigue that goes far beyond the expected ordinariness of routine genealogical research.

Then Farrier encounters a problem within his own life when results of his DNA tests expose a secret family scandal. He sets his sights on setting the record straight as he takes on his own research looking for the true facts and shedding light on his own lingering family mystery.

Mr.Goodwin’s books are a pleasure to read. And fortunately, we have even more pages to enjoy this time around.

The Sterling Affair by Nathan Dylan Goodwin is available in both Kindle and paperback editions from


One small correction: The client asks Farrier to find out who has taken the identity of *her* brother. (The client is female.)


Thank you for the author recommendation. I ordered the Kindle book 1 so I can read them in order.


Excellent read not only for genealogists.Writing and plot are outstanding.


I’ve read a couple of books in this series. I find the plots and characters very enjoyable, and the integration of genealogical sources is very interesting — I always learn something I can use in my own research. However I have trouble getting past the author’s sometimes clunky grammar: misuse of commas (way too many), which vs. that (usually unnecessary), overuse of dependent clauses. Does he not have an editor? Surprising for someone with a Master’s degree in creative writing; for me this distracts from the flow of the story and the intrigues.


I’ve read all of his books and have been hooked since the first one I read. I look forward to more in the future. It is nice to have someone write about my favorite hobby!


I was most disappointed in this book. I have enjoyed the previous books, but I have two big issues the this one.

First, he makes a beginner’s mistake in DNA research. Ancestry’s matches simply cannot be trusted beyond the 3rd cousin level. Too often a fourth cousin turns out to be related to a different line than the one you expect, and without a Chromosome browser you can’t tell which ancestors they match. Or, since Ancestry only gives total cMs, it turns out you share several 8 or 9 cMs, either a match by chance or too far back to trace. And a relative in common on the tree is irrelevant. When he claims triangulation, it cannot be done without a Chromosome browser.

Second, spoiler alert, it is hard to believe the identity thief did nothing but sit in his apartment for all those years writing about his exploits.


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