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Kate Ellis was born in Liverpool and she studied drama in Manchester. She worked in teaching, marketing and accountancy before first enjoying writing success as a winner of the North West Playwrights competition. Crime and mystery stories have always fascinated her, as have medieval history and archaeology which she likes to incorporate in her books. She is married with two grown up sons and she lives in North Cheshire, England, with her husband.
Kate’s novels feature archaeology graduate Detective Sergeant Wesley Peterson who fights crime in the “mean streets” (or should it be “mean lanes”?) of South Devon. Each story combines an intriguing contemporary murder mystery with a parallel historical case. She has also written four books in the spooky Joe Plantagenet series set up in North Yorkshire as well as many short stories for crime fiction anthologies and magazines. Kate was elected a member of The Detection Club in 2014. She is a member of the Crime Writers Association and Murder Squad. Kate is currently working on her twentieth Wesley Peterson novel.
Ellis’ first novel, The Merchant’s House, published in 1998 received positive reviews and was chosen as one of the ten best summer reads by Woman’s Weekly. She has since written nineteen more novels in this series, many to critical acclaim.
Wesley Peterson Detective Novels
The Merchant’s House (1998)
Note: A parallel crime?
DS Wesley Peterson, newly arrived in the West Country town of Tradmouth, has his hands full when a child goes missing and a young woman is brutally murdered on a lonely cliff path. Then his old friend, archaeologist Neil Watson, unearths the skeletons of a strangled woman and a new born baby in the cellar of an ancient merchant’s house nearby.
As the investigation continues, Wesley begins to suspect that these deaths, centuries apart, may be linked by age-old motives of jealousy, a sexual obsession and desperate longing. And the pressure is on if he is going to prevent a further tragedy…
Kate Ellis’s wonderfully addictive series of West Country set crime novels feature Wesley Peterson, one of Devon’s first black detectives.
The Armada Boy (1999)
Note: Four centuries, two murders, one motive…
Archaeologist Neil Watson did not to expect to find the body of American veteran Norman Oppenheim in the ruins of the old chantry chapel. He turns to his old student friend, Detective Sergeant Wesley Peterson, for help. Ironically, both men are looking at an invading force – Wes the WWII Yanks and Neil a group of Spaniards killed by outraged locals as they limped from the wreckage of the Armada. Four hundred years apart two strangers in a strange land have died violently – could the same motives of hatred, jealousy and revenge be at work? Wes is running out of time to find out…
An Unhallowed Grave (1999)
Note: A popular tree?
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 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…
The Funeral Boat (2000)
Note: Double Viking homicide?
When a skeleton is discovered on a Devon smallholding, DS Wesley Peterson, a keen amateur archaeologist, is intrigued by the possibility that it is a Viking corpse, buried in keeping with ancient traditions. But he has a rather more urgent crime to solve – the disappearance of a Danish tourist.
Wesley finds disturbing evidence that the attractive Dane has been abducted. His boss Gerry Heffernan believes that Ingeborg’s disappearance is linked to a spate of brutal robberies and that she witnessed something she shouldn’t have. But is her disappearance linked to far older events? For it seems that this may not have been Ingeborg’s first visit to this far from quiet West Country backwater…
Kate Ellis’s wonderfully addictive series of West Country set crime novels feature Wesley Peterson, one of Devon’s first black detectives.
The Bone Garden (2001)
Note: Not quite cricket?
An excavation at the lost gardens of Earlsacre Hall is called to a halt when a skeleton is discovered under a 300 year old stone plinth, a corpse that seems to have been buried alive. But DS Wesley Peterson has little time to indulge in his hobby of archaeology. He has a more recent murder case to solve. A man has been found stabbed to death in a caravan at a popular holiday park and the only clue to his identity is a newspaper cutting about the restoration of Earlsacre. Does local solicitor Brian Willerby have the answer? He seems eager to talk to Wesley but before he can reveal his secret he is found dead during a ‘friendly’ game of village cricket, apparently struck by a cricket ball several times with some force. If Wesley is looking for a demon bowler this appears to let out most of the village side. But what is it about Earlsacre Hall that leads people to murder?
A Painted Doom (2002)
Note: A real barn burner?
Teenager Lewis Hoxworthy discovers a disturbing painting in a medieval barn that excites archaeologist Neil Watson, who is excavating an ancient manor house nearby. When former rock star Jonny Shellmer is found shot in the head in Lewis’s father’s field and Lewis himself goes missing after contacting a man on the internet, Detective Sergeant Wesley Peterson suddenly faces one of his most intriguing cases yet. Is Jonny’s death linked to Lewis’s disappearance? And does Jonny’s best-known song, “Angel,” contain a clue? It soon becomes clear to Neil that the painting – a portrayal of hell and judgment more than half a millennium old – holds the key to the mystery. As events reach a terrifying climax, Wesley has to act swiftly in order to save a young life.
The Skeleton Room (2003)
Note: The Devon Wreckers and a lady in red!
When workmen converting former girls’ boarding school, Chadleigh Hall, into a luxury hotel discover a skeleton in a sealed room, DI Wesley Peterson and his boss, Gerry Heffernan are called in to investigate. But within minutes they have a second suspicious death on their hands: a team of marine archaeologists working on a nearby shipwreck have dragged a woman’s body from the sea. And it becomes clear that her death was no accident. The dead woman’s husband may be linked with a brutal robbery of computer equipment but Wesley soon discovers that the victim had secrets of her own. As he investigates Chadleigh Hall’s past and the woman’s violent death, both trails lead in surprising directions and matters are further complicated when a man wanted for a murder in London appears on the scene, a man who may know more about Wesley’s cases than he admits!
The Plague Maiden (2004)
Note: A plague pit – at your local supermarket!
When a letter arrives at Tradmouth police station, addressed to a DCI Norbert it causes quite a stir. For though DCI Norbert has long since moved on, the letter claims to have evidence that the man convicted of murdering the Rev. Shipbourne, Vicar of Belsham, during the course of a robbery in 1991, is innocent. Despite having a full case load, including investigating a series of vicious attacks on a local supermarket chain, DI Wesley Peterson is forced to at least follow up on the letter writer’s claims. Meanwhile archaelologist Neil Watson is excavating as site in Pest Field near Belsham church. He discovers a mass grave that leads him to conclude that the site – earmarked for development – is one of an ancient medieval plague pit. But, more disturbing, is the discovery that the grave is home to a more recent resident…
A Cursed Inheritance (2005)
Note: A long history of evil?
The brutal massacre of the Harford family at Potwoolstan Hall in Devon in 1985 shocked the country and passed into local folklore. And when a journalist researching the case is murdered twenty years later, the horror is reawakened. Sixteenth century Potwoolstan Hall, now a New Age healing centre, is reputed to be cursed because of the crimes of its builder, and it seems that inheritance of evil lives on as DI Wesley Peterson is faced with his most disturbing case yet. As more people die violently, Wesley needs to discover why a young woman has transformed a dolls house into a miniature reconstruction of the massacre scene. And could the solution to his case lie across the Atlantic Ocean, in the ruined remains of an early English settlement in Virginia? When the truth is finally revealed, it turns out to be as horrifying as it is dangerous.
The Marriage Hearse (2006)
Note: Do you take this corpse?
When Kirsten Harbourn is found strangled and naked on her wedding day, DI Wesley Peterson makes some alarming discoveries. Kirsten was being pursued by an obsessed stalker and she had dark secrets her doting fiancé, Peter, knew nothing about. But Kirsten’s wasn’t the only wedding planned to take place that July day in South Devon. At Morbay register office a terrified young girl makes her wedding vows. And a few days later her bridegroom is found dead in a seedy seaside hotel. As Wesley investigates he suspects that his death and his bride’s subsequent disappearance might be linked to Kirsten’s murder. Meanwhile the skeleton of a young female is found buried in a farmer’s field – a field that once belonged to the family of Ralph Strong, an Elizabethan playwright whose play, ‘The Fair Wife of Padua’ is to be performed for the first time in four hundred years. Is this bloodthirsty play a confession to a murder committed in the reign of Queen Elizabeth I? Or does it tell another story, one that might cast light on recent mysteries?
The Shining Skull (2007)
Note: Two connected kidnappings – 30 years apart!
Little Marcus Fallbrook was kidnapped in 1976 and when he never returned home, his grieving family assumed the worst. Then, thirty years later, teenage singing star Leah Wakefield disappears and DI Wesley Peterson has reason to suspect that the same kidnapper is responsible. And another abductor is at work in the area – a man who tricks blonde women into a bogus taxi and cuts off their hair. Has Leah fallen prey to the man the newspapers call ‘The Barber’ or has she suffered a more sinister fate? But then Marcus Fallbrook returns from the dead. And when DNA evidence confirms his identity, the investigation takes a new twist. Meanwhile, archaeologist, Neil Watson’s gruesome task of exhuming the dead from a local churchyard yields a mystery of its own when a coffin is found to contain one corpse too many – a corpse that may be linked to a strange religious sect dating back to Regency times. Wesley has his hands full elsewhere – slowly, Marcus Fallbrook begins to recover memories that Wesley hopes will lead him to cunning and dangerous murderer. But he is about to discover that the past can be a very dangerous place indeed.
The Blood Pit (2008)
Note: A blood drive?
Never has DI Wesley Peterson witnessed such a bizarre crime scene. The victim, Charles Marrick, has been murdered, his body drained of blood. Described by those who knew him as ‘evil’, it seems that Wesley isn’t going to have any shortage of suspects – until a popular local vet is murdered in an identical fashion…and a third body is discovered many miles away.
And when Wesley’s archaeologist friend, Neil Watson, starts getting disturbing anonymous letters written in gory detail about macabre events at a medieval abbey – which Neil fears are being sent by the killer Wesley is looking for – Wesley wonders whether there could be a connection between all these deaths and Neil’s letters. And could Neil himself be in danger? As the sinister truth unfolds, both Wesley and Neil are forced to face tragedy and shocking revelations – and a killer who bears the scars of past sins.
A Perfect Death (2009)
Note: A legend comes to life?
When a woman is burned to death in Grandal Field in Devon, it seems like a case of mistaken identity. Until DI Wesley Peterson learns of a legend involving a French woman who was burned to death there in the thirteenth century. And when he discovers that records of a previous excavation on the site have vanished, and that two archaeologists involved in that dig died in tragic circumstances, Wesley starts to investigate the possibility of a link between the legend and recent events.
The Flesh Tailor (2010)
Note: The perfect doctor?
When Dr James Dalcott is shot dead in his cottage it looks very much like an execution. And as DI Wesley Peterson begins piecing together the victim’s life, he finds that the well-liked country doctor has been harbouring strange and dramatic family secrets.
Meanwhile, archaeologist Neil Watson has discovered a number of skeletons in nearby Tailors Court that bear marks of dissection and might be linked to tales of body snatching by a rogue physician in the sixteenth century. But when Neil finds the bones of a child buried with a 1930s coin, the investigation takes a sinister turn.
Who were the children evacuated to Tailors Court during World War II? And where are they now? When a link is established between the wartime evacuees and Dr Dalcott’s death, Wesley is faced with his most challenging case yet.
The Jackal Man (2011)
Note: The revenge of the mummy?
When a teenage girl is strangled and left for dead on a lonely country lane, by an attacker she describes has having the head of a dog, the police are baffled. But when the body of another young woman is found mutilated and wrapped in a white linen sheet, DI Wesley Peterson suspects that the killer is performing an ancient ritual linked to Anubis, the jackal-headed Egyptian god of death and mummification.
Meanwhile, archaeologist Neil Watson has been called to Varley Castle to catalogue the collection of Edwardian amateur Egyptologist, Sir Frederick Varley. However, as his research progresses, Neil discovers that Wesley’s strange murder case bears sinister similarities to four murders that took place near Varley Castle in 1903 – murders said to have been committed by Sir Frederick’s son.
As the Jackal Man’s identity remains a frustrating enigma, it seems that the killer has yet another victim in mind. A victim close to Wesley Peterson himself . . .
The Cadaver Game (2012)
Note: The Blood Hunt turns deadly?
When the decaying body of a murdered woman is discovered in a suburban house following an anonymous tip off, DI Wesley Peterson has problems establishing her identity. But as he digs deeper, he has another more disturbing case to investigate – the naked bodies of two teenagers have been found with shotgun wounds at the foot of a cliff.
Both cases become stranger when Wesley realises they are linked to a sinister manhunt, mirroring events from the time of the Napoleonic Wars. Why did the teenage victims take part in an online game called Blood Hunt, which they were eventually persuaded to play for real?
Then a skeleton is found near the place where the dead teenagers were last seen alive and Wesley finally has to face a terrible truth – and a hunt to the death.
The Shadow Collector (2013)
Note: Two witches feed the pigs?
Lilith Bentley and her mother, rumoured to be witches, were convicted of the brutal murder of two teenage girls. Eighteen years later Lilith is released from prison, and shortly after she returns to her old home, a young woman is found dead at a neighbouring farm where a celebrity reality TV show is being filmed. When DI Wesley Peterson is called in to investigate he has to deal with fragile egos and hidden truths, as well as the possibility that Lilith Benley has killed again.
Meanwhile, archaeologist Neil Watson discovers a gruesome wax doll at a house that once belonged to a woman hanged for witchcraft in the seventeenth century. And when Neil has a near fatal accident, some suspect a supernatural connection.
Even though Wesley has problems closer to home to solve, it is up to him to uncover terrible secrets, banish dark shadows collected in the past and bring a dangerous killer to justice – a killer who will stop at nothing to dispense vengeance and death.
The Shroud Maker (2014)
Note: Two bodies with Shroud Maker tattoos?
A year after the mysterious disappearance of Jenny Bercival, DI Wesley Peterson is called in when the body of a strangled woman is found floating out to sea in a dinghy. The discovery mars the festivities of the Palkin Festival, held each year to celebrate the life of John Palkin, a 14th-century Mayor of Tradmouth who made his fortune from trade and piracy. Now it seems like death and mystery have returned to haunt the town. Could there be a link between the two women? One missing, one brutally murdered? And is there a connection to a fantasy website called Shipworld which features Palkin as a supernatural hero with a sinister, faceless nemesis called the Shroud Maker? When archaeologist Neil Watson makes a grim discovery on the site of Palkin’s warehouse, it looks as if history might have inspired the killer. And it is only by delving into the past that Wesley comes to learn a truth that will bring mortal danger in its wake.
The Death Season (2015)
Note: A faceless killer?
A complex case . . .
When DI Wesley Peterson is summoned to investigate a killing, he assumes that the case is a routine matter. But soon dark secrets and deadly deceptions start to emerge from the victim’s past, and Wesley begins to realise that a simple incident of cold-blooded murder is altogether more calculated and complicated that he could ever imagine.
Tracing back through time . . .
Meanwhile, archaeologist Neil Watson is pulled from the historic Paradise Court to a ruined village from the First World War. Even with the help of the attractive and enigmatic Lucy, Neil cannot shake the feeling that something is missing from his explorations: a cryptic clue that might have been lost when Sandrock tumbled into the sea many years ago. A clue that could help Wesley solve his most puzzling case to date.
DI Wesley Peterson is standing on the edge . . .
As more victims fall prey to a faceless killer, Wesley sees the investigation affecting him more personally than ever before. And when his precious family becomes a target, Wesley has no time to lose. Just like the fallen village of Sandrock, Wesley will have to stand tall if he is to withstand the coming storm.
The House of Eyes (2016)
Note: Too many bodies at Eyecliffe Castle!
When Darren Hatman reports his daughter missing, DI Wesley Peterson isn’t too concerned. Leanne Hatman is an aspiring model, keen to abandon her native Devon for the bright lights of London. However, Darren’s claim that a photographer has been stalking Leanne soon changes Wesley’s opinion.
Leanne works at Eyecliffe Castle, once home to the wealthy D’Arles family and now converted into a luxury hotel. When Darren himself is found brutally murdered in the castle grounds, the police fear is that Leanne has met a similar fate. But, if so, where is her body?
Meanwhile, Wesley’s friend, archaeologist Neil Watson, recently returned from a thrilling Sicilian excavation, makes a disturbing discovery near Eyecliffe Castle and surprises Wesley with the news that, while in Sicily, he met Leanne’s alleged stalker.
With Eyecliffe Castle becoming the scene of another violent death, Wesley suspects a connection between the recent crimes, the disappearance of two girls back in the 1950s and a mysterious Sicilian ruin called the House of Eyes, a place feared by superstitious locals.
As he works to solve one of his most challenging cases yet, Wesley must face alarming revelations, rooted in centuries of fear and evil . . . as well as dealing with a nightmare of his own!