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Saturday 2 July 2022

‘A Cursed Inheritance’ by Kate Ellis

Published by Piatkus,
24 March 2005.
ISBN: 978-0-74990725-9 (HB)

The death of a journalist researching the case of the brutal murder of the Harford family at 16C Potwoolstan Hall in Devon in 1985 reawakens all the horror of the case that had, with the passage of time, become folklore. The Hall - now a New Age healing centre - becomes again the centre of a murder case.

Investigating is DI Wesley Peterson., who approaches the case in his usual calm and sympathetic manner, somewhat different in temperament to his wife Pam who is her usual discontented self - even more so as Neil, Wesley’s University friend, has gone off to a dig in Virginia, USA, where they are uncovering the remains of an early English settlement.  Interestingly, the early remains link back to Potwoolstan Hall and also disturbingly to Neil’s own ancestors. 

The murder of the Harford family was at the time laid at the door of the housekeeper, but as Wesley investigates the murder of the journalist, he becomes convinced that the journalist during his research of the case uncovered evidence that the housekeeper Martha had not been the killer, and that maybe the killer is still out there.  He needs to trace Martha’s daughter and to speak with the only survivor of the family massacre, Arbel Harford.

This is a fascinating mystery. There are many strands, some that reach far back into the past. The story is told from multiple points of view, including one from the past. All the books I have read by Kate Ellis have been good, but this one is particularly absorbing. Highly recommended.

Reviewer: Lizzie Hayes

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. 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, Murder Squad, and Mystery People. She is married with two grown up sons and she lives in North Cheshire, England, with her husband. Her most recent series is set post WW1.  Her most recent book is The Stone Chamber.

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