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Friday 6 July 2018

‘The Mechanical Devil’ by Kate Ellis

Published by Piatkus,
1st February 2018.
ISBN:978-0-34941313-6 (HB)

The joy of getting a new Kate Ellis book in the Wesley Peterson series is the two for one offer we all love so much.  For while DI Wesley Peterson is pursuing the miscreants of today, his university friend archaeologist Neil Watson will be pursuing those of centuries past.

DI Wesley Peterson’s current headache is the missing daughter of Jeremy Ovorard, a junior minister in the Home Office. As we pick up the story Jocasta Ovorard has been missing for a week. Pressure is being brought to bear on DCI Gerry Heffernan by the Chief Superintendent Noreen Fitton, referred to by Gerry as Auntie Noreen. ‘She’s probably gone off with some unsuitable lad,’ says Gerry.

The report of a double shooting in a field in the sleepy village of Lower Torworthy poses even more questions when it transpires that the two victims appear to have no connection to each other.  Even more puzzling is that the killing bear all the hallmarks of executions.

Meanwhile Dr Neil Watson of the County Archaeologist Unit is currently supervising a survey of medieval graffiti at Lower Torworthy’s ancient parish church when workmen repairing a watermain uncover a lead box the size of a child’s coffin:  Neil is astounded by the bizarre contents. As he conducts his own investigation he finds that someone relatively recently has been following the trail that he is now following. One that ends in the accidental death of a young history student in Manor field twenty years previously. 

While Wesley juggles the two investigations, he finds himself fielding telephone calls from a woman he had helped on a previous investigation.  She insists that only he can help her and refuses to talk to anyone else.

Both investigations are interspersed with extracts from a draft thesis from 1995.  And as in previous mysteries Kate Ellis weaves past and present with a masterly hand and draws the random threads together with many twists along the way.

On the personal front Wesley is still worried about his wife Pam following her recent health scare and popping in and out is Pam’s mother Della –sometimes hindrance and sometimes help.  Neil’s love life seems to have taken an upturn – or has it?  And will DS Rachel Tracey finally get married?

Skilfully plotted, this intriguing mystery will keep you rapidly turning pages eager to devour the next twist. Highly recommended.
Reviewer: Lizzie Sirett
Kate Ellis was born in Liverpool and she studied drama in Manchester. She worked in teaching, marketing and accountancy before first enjoying writing success as a winner of the North-West Playwrights competition. Crime and mystery stories have always fascinated her, as have medieval history and archaeology which she likes to incorporate in her books. She is married with two grown up sons and she lives in North Cheshire, England, with her husband.
Kate's novels feature archaeology graduate Detective Sergeant Wesley Peterson who fights crime in South Devon.  Each story combines an intriguing contemporary murder mystery with a parallel historical case. She has also written five books in the spooky Joe Plantagenet series set up in North Yorkshire as well as many short stories for crime fiction anthologies and magazines. Kate was elected a member of The Detection Club in 2014. She is a member of the Crime Writers Association and Murder Squad, and Mystery People. Her most recent series is set post WW1.  To read a review of this latest book click here. A High Mortality of Doves.
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