The Plague Maiden by Kate Ellis

The Plague Maiden by Kate Ellis
Publisher: Piatkus
Genre: Contemporary, Historical, Mystery/Suspense/Thriller
Rating: 3 stars
Reviewed by Fern

A stir is caused in Tradmouth when a letter arrives at the police station claiming that the man convicted of murdering the Vicar of Belsham is innocent. DI Wesley Peterson already has his hands full with threats made to local supermarket chain, Huntings – the last thing he needs is an alleged miscarriage of justice to investigate.

Meanwhile, Wesley’s friend, archaeologist Neil Watson, uncovers a medieval plague pit at a site near Belsham church earmarked for Huntings’ new superstore. As Wesley’s investigations continue, he begins to suspect that the vicar’s murder, the disappearance of a woman and the threats to the supermarket may be linked in some way.

Dr Neil Watson and his archaeology team uncover what they believe to be a plague pit in an open field earmarked as the site for a new local supermarket. Despite the growing number of bodies, DI Wesley Peterson is relieved, since the bones are clearly mediaeval and solving their deaths is not his problem. Wesley’s plate is already quite full, with his wife due to deliver their second child any day now, new evidence found that clearly shows an innocent man has been in jail for a decade for the murder of a vicar he can’t have committed, and an unknown person leaving infected products at the local Huntings supermarkets which has killed a number of people. When Wesley begins to find more and more connections between all these cases he will need every talent he can draw on to uncover what’s really going on.

This is another book in the DI Wesley Peterson series and I have been really enjoying them so far. Many of the books are primarily a British police procedural style with a good hit of history/archaeology running through the plots and this book is no exception. While some of the connections between the team members and Neil with the various other characters does have plenty of history from the previous books, I strongly feel this story can be picked up easily by itself and really enjoyed. The plot and central focus of the investigations are well contained in this story.

Readers looking for something very heavily historical might not find this quite suits their purposes. While Neil’s archaeology dig and investigations does indeed create quite a strong sub-plot there are a number of modern mysteries and police investigations that take up the main aspect to the plot in my mind. I feel the author has given a good balance between the past mystery and the current problems facing Wesley and his team but readers wanting something more historical might feel this balance isn’t quite right. I also could appreciate there were a number of cases that interwove here and that took some exceptional writing both to make it believable but also to knit it all together. In such a small town it makes sense that seemingly unconnected events actually could have cross over in parts since with such a small pool of people, the interactions and connectedness really would make sense to cross over into all aspects of the town’s life.

I found this to be a well written and strongly plotted police procedural with a number of interesting plots and a strong and equally interesting historical aspect too. I’m very much enjoying this series and am eager to get to the next book.

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