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Friday, 22 July 2011

‘The Jackal Man’ by Kate Ellis

Published by Piatkus, August 2011. ISBN: 978-0-7499-5593-9

A teenage girl walking home along a country lane is attacked, and but for the timely arrival of a van would have been strangled to death.  Although she survives she cannot identify her attacker, ‘he wore a dog’s head’ is all she can say.  But within a short time another girl is attacked and this time killed.

Investigating is DI Wesley Peterson along with his rather loveable boss DCI Gerry Heffernan who with his new lady love Joyce away, had reverted to type - gravy and baked bean stains abound.

Meanwhile Wesley’s university friend Neil Watson has been summons to the huge edifice Varley Castle to look at the collection of artefacts belonging to the late amateur Egyptologist Sir Frederick Varley.  Sir Frederick’s heir Caroline Varley has asked Neil to have a look at the artefacts with a view to valuation.  Already in situ is Robert Delaware who is writing a biography of Sir Frederick Varley. Neil doesn’t take to Robert, but I suspected he has a yen for Caroline and Robert had got there first.  Not being an expert on Egyptologist Neil calls in an expert in the Dr Andrew Beredace from the British Museum.

This is a multilayered tale. Interspersed with the current investigation is the narrative of an unidentified person who relates the story of the life surrounding Egyptologist Sir Frederick Varley, in the early nineteen hundreds.  As Wesley investigates the current murders we are privy albeit, clandestinely, to series of murders in 1903.

As the current spate of murders continue, at one point Wesley seems awash with suspects, but following his nose he delves back into the past with surprising results.

This is my kind of mystery, the twists and turns had me jotting as in solving a cryptic crossword, to say I loved it is an understatement – for all you puzzle solvers out there this is for you. Kate Ellis just gets better and better, the slow unfolding of the past as the current investigation proceeds is masterly.  And also the characterisation as we follow the lives of DS Rachel Tracey and DC Trish Walton, and a visit from the past of Wesley’s old boss Ian Petrie, but more frighteningly is that this investigation touches Wesley very close to home. So very highly recommended, and I don’t even like adverbs.
Reviewer: Lizzie Hayes

Kate Ellis was born and brought up in Liverpool. She studied drama at Manchester, and subsequently worked in teaching, marketing and accountancy. She is interested in medieval history and armchair archaeology. Kate lives in North Cheshire with her engineer husband and two sons.
Her books featuring Wesley Peterson are : The Merchant's House, The Armada Boy, An Unhallowed Grave, The Funeral Boat, The Bone Garden, A Painted Doom, The Skeleton Room, The Plague Maiden. A Cursed Inheritance, The Marriage Hearse, The Devil’s Priest, The Shining Skull, The Blood Pit, , A Perfect Death, The Flesh Taylor, The Jackal Man. She has a second series featuring Joe Plantagenet, the books in this series are: Seeking the Dead, Playing With Bones, and Kissing the Demons.

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