So, to bring myself up to date, a double bill from one of my favourite current authors, Kate Ellis. I recently treated myself by filling all the gaps in my collection of the Wesley Peterson novels, a series of police procedurals with a heavy dose of historical background, set in Devon.
The basic structure of the books is that a modern day crime is committed and at the same time, evidence is uncovered concerning an event that occurred in the (distant or not-so-distant) past, investigated by Peterson’s friend, archaeologist Neil Watson. Peterson and his team investigate the current mystery (which is the bulk of the narrative) and inevitably there are parallels between the cases. The other variation from the standard police procedural is that Wesley is not the senior member of the team and the other members, both senior and junior to him, have a good share of the action.
Anyway, on with the reviews of the fourth and fifth books in the series.
A Danish tourist has mysteriously vanished – could it be related to a previous visit to the area years previously? As Wesley investigates, someone undergoes a traditional Viking death – could there be links to the Viking skeleton that has just been discovered in the area?
The Bone Garden
A number of bodies have been found during an archaeological excavation in the gardens of Earlsacre Hall. But Wesley has to deal with the death of an unknown man, stabbed in a caravan park and the murder of a lawyer who has been hit in the head by a high velocity cricket ball – several times…
I’ll put these reviews together, as I’ve exactly the same thing to say about these books – they are both extremely strong entries into the series. Both of the stories are clever, twisting mysteries with an enticing group of characters to follow, in particular Wesley, his boss D(C)I Heffernan and DC Rachel Tracy. The historical parts are well developed – these are presented as parts of various historical documents in the introductions to each chapter. As these give an insight into what is going on, I found myself going back and re-reading them as I got towards the end of the book to get an insight into what was going on.
If there was something to niggle about, it is that in both cases, the historical story plays out too closely to the modern day one. It does seem unlikely that this would happen in two consecutive cases. But this is fiction, obviously, and it didn’t bother me. It might be nice if in some of the later books (I’ve got plenty to read) the stories diverge a little more.
So, once again, I find myself wholeheartedly recommending this series – and if you’re in Merseyside on Saturday 11th August, do pop in to Formby Books where Kate will be signing copies of the outstanding The Cadaver Game – not as grim as it sounds, but one of my favourite books of recent months.