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Sunday 21 August 2022

‘Serpent's Point’ by Kate Ellis

Published by Piatkus,
4 August 2022.
ISBN: 978-0-349-42573-3 (HB)

The enticing opening of this the 26th book in the DI Wesley Peterson series set in Devon has you hooked with the first line ‘The Bridegroom had strangler’s hands.’   

Then we move forward five years to the discovery of the dead body of a woman probably in her early thirties lying on a costal path.  Wesley Peterson is assigned to the case.  

Two young girls with metal detectors were looking for treasure in a nearby field but wearing headphones and concentrating on their metal detecting they were unable to offer any useful information.  However, they have found some coins in the field and when Wesley sees them, he immediately contacts his university friend Neil Watson, with whom he had studied archaeology at Exeter university. Neil now works for the County Archaeology Unit. Despite his interest in archaeology Wesley took the decision to join the police force, although he still retains his interest in archaeology and also his friendship with Neil.

As Wesley delves into the life of the dead woman, he learns that she has been house sitting at Serpents Point, a large house near where she was found.  Also, that she had been conducting an investigation into unsolved missing person cases, in various parts of the country. Did she discover something that got her killed?

Meanwhile, Neil is excited at the possibility that there is a link to a settlement from Roman times.  When a skeleton is uncovered, it appears that Serpent's Point could hold many secrets.

Interspersed with Wesley’s investigation there are several diary entries dating from May to June 1921 from the journal of Dr Aldus Claye, who at that time was also excited at a possible Roman settlement in his field.

DS Rachel Tracey is now in an advanced stage of pregnancy and not taking it well. DCI Gerry Heffernan, is keen to have her on light duties, but Rachel is champing to get out and about.

As in all previous novels Ellis presents the reader with not just one mystery but two.  How do they link? 

Fascinating and intriguing, both stories unfold providing a thoroughly satisfying read. 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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