A Perfect Death by Kate Ellis

A Perfect Death by Kate Ellis
Publisher: Piatkus
Genre: Contemporary, Historical, Mystery/Suspense/Thriller
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Fern

When a woman is burned to death in Grandal Field in Devon, it looks like it could be a case of mistaken identity. Until DI Wesley Peterson learns of a legend involving a woman who died in similar circumstances in the thirteenth century.

It seems clear that there is a link between the mysterious legend and the recent murder when Wesley discovers that records of a previous site excavation have vanished, and two archaeologists involved in the dig died tragically.

The case echoes a story of twisted love and obsession from many centuries ago, and Wesley realises that edging closer to the truth brings unexpected danger . . .

DI Wesley Peterson and his wife are enjoying a short holiday in France, with nothing more important to do other than decide which restaurant to enjoy their next meal in. But while out on one of their walks Wesley bumps into Ian Rowe, a former fellow student from his archaeology days, and Ian seeks Wesley’s help with a missing friend. When Wesley returns to Devon he discovers there’s a far bigger mystery surrounding this situation. Can Wesley and his team discover what’s really going on?

I enjoyed this addition to the series and found the usual blending of current police procedural crime linked with the archaeological history as gripping as ever. The main thing that stood out for me personally, however, was that the author slid into the main storyline a very good way to finally bring Pam – Wesley’s wife – around and somewhat redeem her character. I feel with the author having Pam invested and interested in the mystery Ian brings Welsey on their vacation, as well as her continuing enthusiasm and curiosity bodes well for her being more invested in Wesley’s police career. Pam’s impatience with Wesley’s divided attention – even though he clearly makes a concentrated effort to spend as much time as possible with his family and children – has rankled me for a while now. I am very hopeful this might be Pam finally turning a corner here.

Outside of this rather large character arc change, the mystery itself was very well handled I felt. I was pleased that it took the police quite some time to identify the woman who was murdered and burned, and there were a number of different events surrounding the death that muddied the waters to a good degree. I feel readers who enjoy a complicated mystery and a lot of police procedural detective work should enjoy this plot and pacing. While there is a good element of archaeology in this story – as there usually is within this series – I did feel this took somewhat more of a back seat and so readers who prefer the archaeological side to these books might feel that this is lacking somewhat in this particular book.

With a strong and interesting plot and a cast of well known and long-standing characters this is a good read and a strong mystery book.

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