Tuesday, 29 April 2008

Kate Ellis

I’ve just finished reading the latest entry in Kate Ellis’s Wesley Peterson series, The Blood Pit. Kate is a friend, so it’s good to report that not only is this novel well up to her usual standard, it’s possibly her best yet.

As usual with the Wesley books, the setting is Tradmouth (a thinly veiled Dartmouth), with a brief excursion to Chester. And as before, Kate combines a story from the past (involving licentious monks) with a present day mystery, this time involving a blood-fixated serial killer whom the press dubs The Spider.

Like me, Kate is a great fan of the Taggart television series, particularly in its hey-day when Mark McManus was alive, and she seeks to build mysteries with complex and challenging puzzles. One of the consequences of this approach is that in this book there is a large cast of characters and a sequence of interlinking mysteries. It isn’t easy for an author to handle such ingredients so effectively as to make the book appear effortless – trust me, I know how hard it is! But with The Blood Pit, Kate has mastered this very difficult trick, and that’s why it is such a successful piece of work, a thoroughly professional updating of the traditional mystery. There’s plenty of sex and violence, but it’s tastefully handled, without the explicit or exploitative feel of some serial killer novels.

This is the twelfth Wesley Peterson novel. But from now on, Kate will be running a second series alongside her first. Look out for Seeking the Dead, which will introduce a new detective, Joe Plantagenet.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I only recently discovered Kate Ellis, via reviewing one of her recent books for Euro Crime. I was slightly concerned, as it was about the 16th in the series, but I needn't have worried, I enjoyed it very much. I agree with you about the interleaved plotting, very good. In the book I read, ancient history was also a factor in all the complications. (Maybe it is in others by her, I don't know, but it was a good aspect to the book I read.)