The Armada Boy by Kate Ellis

A group of US D-Day veterans have returned to the Tradmouth area for a reunion, bringing their families with them. But for Norman Openheim, it’s the last visit that he will ever make, as he is found stabbed to death on the site of an old chantry chapel.

As DS Wesley Peterson and his team investigate, they find plenty of motive both within the party of veterans and amongst the local townsfolk, some of whom have very long memories. As past crimes and misdemeanours start to come to light, it seems that the truth lies much further back, with the tale of a Spanish sailor from 1588, who, for some reason, was given a proper burial in the local chapel. The tale of the Armada Boy.

This is the second of the Wesley Peterson novels from Kate Ellis – so far I’ve read (in order) An Unhallowed Grave, The Jackal Man, The Merchant’s House and The Cadaver Game, which are the 3rd, 15th, 1st and 16th, which goes against my “reading things in order” habit. So far, I’ve enjoyed every one of this series, so is this five out of five?

I’ll give you a clue – I went to Formby Books the other day and, noting that the series was £3 off per book, bought ALL of the books that I was missing from the series.

So, let’s see what you get with this one:

Plot – a cracking multi-layered mystery with red-herrings a-plenty and a real sense of tragedy hanging over the events. The investigation keeps moving forward, without requiring a massive pile of bodies, and comes to a very satisfying conclusion.

Characterisation – the police team is a great combination of realistic characters. No burnt-out loners here, but a real sense of team. They have their faults, but these are people that you read about because you like them, not because you want to see which direction they choose to go off the deep end this time. The suspects are all well-written and distinctive, and their actions are all in character.

Setting – Tradmouth itself is a clear enough place, but it’s the past – both war-time and in the time of the Armada (only a small part of the story, by the way) – where it sparkles. There is also contained herein a description of a true WWII tragedy that I had never heard of – although I can see why no-one mentions it much – that gives some real depth to the story.

So, as you can tell, I loved this book, and I would encourage you, if you haven’t already, to give something in this series a try. There’s a depth to these stories that, combined with very tight plotting, makes them outstanding reads. Highly recommended.


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