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Wednesday 6 April 2022

‘The Stone Chamber’ by Kate Ellis

Published by Piatkus,
5 August 2021.
ISBN:978-0-349-42572-6 (HB)

Set in a busy fictional town in Devon this is the 25th book in the DI Wesley Peterson series.   The intriguing thing about this series is that when you open the pages of a new book you know that you will have not just one intriguing mystery to solve but two.  

The shooting, execution-style of Robert and his wife Greta Gerdner, has Wesley looking back at old cases that Robert, a former policeman was involved in, and the possibility that someone holding a grudge may be responsible. But investigations turn up a link to Darkhole Grange, a former asylum on Dartmoor, that is now available for hire for hen parties and other such like events, and where a mysterious death had recently taken place.

Meanwhile Neil Watson, who had studied archaeology at Exeter university with Wesley is now officially Heritage Manager – Archaeology and Historic Environments, and is thrilled to have found a lost village clustered around a Church dating back to the twelfth century.  Although on leaving university Wesley took the decision to join the police force, he still retains his interest in archaeology and also his friendship with Neil.

While Neil discovers the skeleton of a woman buried in a sealed chamber dating back to the 15C, his investigation uncovers the legend of an anchoress bricked up in her cell, Wesley is dealing with further deaths.  Are they linked to each other? Are they linked to Darkhole Grange?

Interspersed with the current investigation there are 14 diary entries dating from August to November 1956 written by a young girl who has been confined to her home following a disgrace she has brought on the family. She says she is bored being locked in.

On a personal front, DS Rachel Tracey is now pregnant.  Her relationship with Wesley has gone through several stages. A few books back prior to her marriage to farmer Nigel Haynes, she and Wesley shared a moment, but it was fleeting, and is now in the past – or is it?  And what of Wesley’s boss DCI Gerry Heffernan, he of the crocodile smile, has he shelved his possible retirement?

With three intriguing strands to follow this is a twisty tale as you try to work out how they all fit together. Do the answers lie in the past?

Cleverly plotted, it is both fascinating and satisfying as Ellis weaves her magic and pulls the threads together and reveal the killer or killers. Most 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.  The third and latest book in this series is The House of the Hanged Woman.

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