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Monday, 16 June 2014

‘The Shroud Maker’ by Kate Ellis

Published by Piatkus,
5 June 2014.
ISBN: 978-0-7499-5803-9

In Tradmouth in Devon, it is the time of the annual Palkin Festival, celebrating the town's famous (some say infamous) Fourteenth Century Mayor, John Palkin. Holiday makers and locals, all clad in variations of medieval dress, flock to the town to celebrate the wealthy shipowner. For the police, the Palkin Festival is a time of incipient trouble and extra work. DI Wesley Peterson had been away from Tradmouth last year during the Palkin Festival, but his boss, DCI Gerry Hefferman was there and is still haunted by the memory of the mysterious disappearance of a beautiful, red-haired young woman called Jenny Bercival. Now Jenny's mother is back in Tradmouth, desperate to find her daughter and the searchers' darkest fears become reality when the body of a red-haired young woman is found floating in an open boat in the harbour.

Also in Tradmouth, Wesley's friend, Neil Watson is conducting an archaeological investigation on the site of Palkin's house and warehouse. When Neil and his team make a grisly discovery, it is unclear whether they have found evidence of a contemporary crime or a historical one. Past and present are united by a fantasy website called Shipworld. In this fantasy, Palkin is a supernatural hero who fights a faceless villain known as the Shroud Maker.

More deaths follow and the nearer Wesley and Gerry move to solving the crimes and discovering the identity of the Shroud Maker, the closer they come to personal danger.

In The Shroud Maker, the past and present are drawn together, as every chapter begins with a short historical section, mainly in the form of excerpts from a history of John Palkin written by Josiah Palkin-Wright, a Victorian who claimed to be a descendant of Palkin, or letters written by Charlotte, Palkin-Wright's desperately unhappy wife.

This is the 19th in the Wesley Peterson series. It combines the historical and contemporary investigations with great skill. The contemporary investigation is riveting and the tension is well maintained. The police officers are well characterised and likeable people and the description of life in a Devonshire port town is totally believable.
This is an excellent and enjoyable police procedural, which I would definitely recommend.
Reviewer: Carol Westron

Kate Ellis was born in Liverpool and studied drama in Manchester. She is interested in archaeology and lives in North Cheshire.  Kate has twice been nominated for the Crime Writers' Association Short Story Dagger and has alse been nominated for the Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year.

Visit her at

Carol Westron is a successful short story writer and a Creative Writing teacher.  She is the moderator for the cosy/historical crime panel, The Deadly Dames.  Her crime novels are set both in contemporary and Victorian times.  The Terminal Velocity of Cats is the first in her Scene of Crimes novels, was published July 2013

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