2 December 2010


First published in Great Britain by Judy Piatkus (Publishers) Ltd., 1999
ISBN 0-7505-1627-5
395 pages (large print)
source: my local library

#3 in the Wesley Petersen series.

When the body of a middle-aged woman is found hanging from a yew tree in Stokeworthy churchyard, the police suspect foul play.  But the victim is an unlikely one.   Pauline Brent was the local doctor's receptionist and well-liked.  She seems to have had no real enemies.  And yet someone killed her.
The case is investigated by Detective Sergeant Wesley Peterson, his boss, Inspector Gerry Heffernan, and archaeologist Neil Watson, who is excavating on the site of a proposed holiday development nearby when he discovers an ancient corpse. 
Local legend has it that many centuries ago a young woman was hanged from the yew in the churchyard.  Has Neil discovered her body buried at the crossroads in an unhallowed grave?  Why was she hanged?  And why is she sharing her last resting place with a set of rare medieval statues? It seems an unlikely coincidence - two women hanged from the same tree many centuries apart. 
Wesley is forced to consider the possibility that the killer also knows the tree's history.  Has Pauline Brent been "executed" rather than murdered?   And if so, for what crime?

I have read another book from this series and remember thinking at the time that I should read more. I enjoyed my re-acquaintance with amateur archaeologist Detective Sergeant Wesley Peterson and those he works with. The relationships between characters are well explored and there is a historical thread running throughout.

My rating 4.4

mini-review of THE FUNERAL BOAT - my rating 4.5
The Tradmouth area of Devonshire is the location this Kate Ellis’ police procedural in which Wesley Peterson, a young black detective plays a prominent role. Wesley and his superior, Inspector Gerry Heffernan, had both chosen a rural setting in which to pursue their law enforcement careers, thinking criminal activity would be considerably less than in London. However, of late, things are anything but peaceful on their turf. A rash of burglaries targeting isolated farms in the district, the disappearance of a young Danish tourist, and the discovery of a skeleton who had met his death apparently violently are keeping Heffernan and his staff busy round the clock.

Wesley Peterson series (courtesy Fantastic Fiction)
1. The Merchant's House (1998)
2. The Armada Boy (1999)
3. An Unhallowed Grave (1999)
4. The Funeral Boat (2000)
5. The Bone Garden (2001)
6. A Painted Doom (2002)
7. The Skeleton Room (2003)
8. The Plague Maiden (2004)
9. A Cursed Inheritance (2005)
10. The Marriage Hearse (2006)
11. The Shining Skull (2007)
12. The Blood Pit (2008)
13. A Perfect Death (2009)
14. The Flesh Tailor (2010)
15. The Jackal Man (2011)


Uriah Robinson said...

I must try this series some time as Devon and history are up my street.

Dorte H said...

Perhaps I should try The Funeral Boat. It is always interesting to read English novels with Danish characters (to see if they seem credible).


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