The Merchant’s House by Kate Ellis

Kate Ellis was born and raised in Liverpool, England.  She studied drama in Manchester then worked as a teacher, and in accountancy before her writing achieved success when she won the North West Playwrights Competition.  However, crime and mystery stories have always fascinated her, as has medieval history so she tries to bring these elements into her books. She is married with two grown up sons and she lives in North Cheshire, England, with her husband and a cat.

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In The Merchant’s House DS Wesley Peterson is a black policeman delighted to be transferred from the Met might to a West Country seaside town in Devon, the area where he grew up.  he meets up with an old friend, Neil, who is an archaeologist working on a dig in the area at a Tudor merchant’s house.

Wesley finds this interesting but has to tear himself away as he is involved in a major search for a missing child. The tension is mounts when a body is found: but to Wesley’s relief it is turned up at the dig and is more than 400 years old.

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Still, it seems it was a tragic murder: the bones are those of a strangled young woman and a newborn baby. However, a more recent body is found and the circumstances surrounding the child’s disappearance become increasingly complicated.  Wesley is convinced that motives of jealousy, sexual obsession, and a longing for a child are behind both the crimes.  So this story is a wonderful blend of modern crime thriller and historical conspiracy and it works very well.

I loved the historical aspect to The Merchant’s House. The main detective character was not just crime orientated.  His various interests make him so interesting.  Ellis has created a refreshing depth of character here.  I loved the way his archaeological background related to the story itself to its resolve. It made the whole story quite addictive.  I really enjoyed this book and highly recommend it.

Valerie Penny

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