The Merchant’s House by Kate Ellis

The Merchant’s House by Kate Ellis
Publisher: Little, Brown Book Group
Genre: Contemporary, Historical, Mystery/Suspense/Thriller
Rating: 3 stars
Reviewed by Fern

DS Wesley Peterson, newly arrived in the West Country town of Tradmouth, has his hands full when a child goes missing and a young woman is brutally murdered on a lonely cliff path.

Then his old friend, archaeologist Neil Watson, unearths the skeletons of a woman and a newborn baby in the cellar of an ancient merchant’s house nearby.

As they begin to investigate the murders, Wesley starts to suspect that these deaths, centuries apart, may be linked by age-old motives of jealousy and sexual obsession. And the pressure is on if he is going to prevent a further tragedy . . .

DS Wesley Peterson has just arrived with his wife into the West Country, pleased to be out of the hustle and bustle of London. New to the small police force, he is eager to settle in and for he and his wife to make a new home. He bumps into an old university friend from his archaeology days, Neil Watson and the two of them compare their current careers, surprised to find more and more there is some overlap in each of their current projects.

I picked this book up on a whim as it appeared to have a number of similarities to the Dr Ruth Galloway series which I am enjoying immensely. While I didn’t find the characters or plotline as deep or complex as the Galloway series, I did find this an enjoyable police procedural style of mystery novel. The archaeology came out mostly in snippets from a relevant diary at the beginning of each chapter, so readers expecting a strong sense of history or archaeology/digs encompassed in the plot might find this aspect to the story a little lacking.

The mystery and police aspect to the plot is well thought out and while the pace is a little slow, I felt that added more to the countrified air of the story and more authentic than a hurried or more action-orientated city-style of pacing. As the first book in the series, I was pleased there was a decent introduction to the main characters including the members of Wesley’s police team. I would have enjoyed a bit more time spent with Wesley’s wife and be able to understand her a little better. I’m hoping that occurs in the coming few books.

Readers who enjoy British style murder/mystery novels especially with a hint of history/archaeology should find this an easy and entertaining read.

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