An Unhallowed Grave by Kate Ellis

An Unhallowed Grave by Kate Ellis
Publisher: Little, Brown Book Group
Genre: Contemporary, Historical, Mystery/Suspense/Thriller
Rating: 3 stars
Reviewed by Fern

A twisted murder mirrors a dark legend . . .

When the body of Pauline Brent is found hanging from a yew tree in a local graveyard, DS Wesley Peterson immediately suspects foul play. Then history provides him with a clue. Wesley’s archaeologist friend, Neil Watson, has excavated a corpse at his nearby dig – a young woman who, local legend has it, had been publicly hanged from the very same tree before being buried on unhallowed ground five centuries ago.

Wesley is now forced to consider the possibility that the killer knows the tree’s dark history. Has Pauline also been ‘executed’ rather than murdered, and, if so, for what crime? To catch a dangerous killer Wesley has to discover as much as he can about the victim. But Pauline appears to have been a woman with few friends, no relatives and a past she has carefully tried to hide . . .

DS Wesley Peterson is called to investigate when the body of a young woman is found hanging from a yew tree in a local graveyard. They quickly realise this death was not suicide – but certainly murder and Wesley is further confused when his archaeologist friend, Neil, points out that the yew tree the woman was hung from was previously known for public hangings and the bodies then buried in unhallowed ground nearby. Just as Wesley feels he may be getting a handle on the case, yet another dead body turns up. Can he solve what’s really going on before disaster strikes again?

I’ve been enjoying this series and found this a particularly well written addition. I am becoming familiar now with all the main characters and feel the team is beginning to really gel together and work cohesively as a unit. I also found this mystery both layered and interesting – not easy to guess at a first glance and well woven enough that it kept my interest all the way through the book.

I was pleased with the balance between police procedural work and archaeology. I felt that while the mystery and murder investigation definitely took a greater share of the storyline, there was regular and important involvement from the archaeology side of the plot and for this book I felt the balance between the two was really good and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I feel readers wanting a book really steeped in history or focused more on the archaeology rather than the mystery mightn’t find the balance as enjoyable as I did – but for readers mainly after the mystery/murder aspect and with just a good amount of seasoning with the history and archaeology this book should be very satisfying.

And enjoyable and well plotted read, I absolutely will be reading more books in this series.

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