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DS Wesley Peterson has moved from London to the West Country town of Tradmouth. His wife, Pam, is a supply teacher who is obsessed with her desire to have a baby and their lack of success is damaging their relationship. It is a very emotive subject, but Pam is not a very sympathetic character, especially at the beginning of the book. If Peterson thought Tradmouth would be quieter than London, he is in for a shock. There is a young woman found brutally killed on a cliff top and a young toddler is snatched from a garden. Wesley Peterson is also interested in a nearby archeological dig at a former Merchant's House, run by an old friend of his. When bodies are found buried there, the historical mystery ties in with those Peterson is investigating.

This is a well written mystery, with great characters. Wesley Peterson is a thoughtful, intelligent detective and all the characters in the book are believable and give the book depth. This is the first in the series and I certainly want to read more. I read the kindle edition of this book and it was well edited, with information on further books at the end to whet the appetite!
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on 21 August 2010
This is the first book in this detective series. Having read and enjoyed one of Ellis's later WP I was keen to fill in the background.
Wesley Peterson is a black detective Sergeant , who studied archeology at university before becoming a police man. He has been recently transfered from the Met to to the West Country port of Tradmouth.
This is a traditional detective crime thriller with a historical background which is interwoven into the crime in an intriguing way throughout the book.
In this first book we meet WP and his old friend from university , archeologist Neil Watson who is undertaking a dig in the area at an ancient merchants house. The book starts with a child who goes missing while outside in the garden playing. Every mothers nightmare! Then a young womens body is brutally murdered on a cliff path and Wesley investigates.
The investigation is linked to the infant skeletons that Neil is uncovering and an ancient journal which makes interesting reading and which seems to hold the key to what is happening.
An intriguing read.
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First Sentence: The child flung his tricycle aside and toddled, laughing, toward the basking cat.

A university graduate in archeology and the first black police officer in Tradmouth, DS Wesley Peterson begins his first day at work with a murder. The body of a young woman has been found off a cliff path, the damage to her face rendering her unrecognizable. Wesley's university friend, Neill, is heading a team of archeologists on the site of a 17th century merchant's house in town when the skeleton of a child is found. A fellow officer is dealing with the mother of a missing toddler who is adamant her son is still alive in spite of a lack of clues. Can a clue from the past solve a crime in the present?

To find a book which is a skillful combination of archeology and police procedure is definitely in my `happy-reader' zone. Ms. Ellis does just that and much more. Although the locations are fictional, I was ready to pack my back and go. Those who are familiar would know the differences, but for those who don't the locations are visual and real.

Not only is there a nice introduction to Wesley, but to all the book's major characters. One thing particularly refreshing is that the police officers all like one another and work as a team. There is an odd man out, but you don't feel he'll be there long. It's not just the primary characters Ms. Ellis brings to life, but the secondary characters as well. I never had to question who a character was or why there were there.

It can be a tricky business, bringing together four plot lines, but it works. The information from the 17th century is provided in diary excerpts as chapter headings, while fascinating, does not intrude on the present-day investigations. The dig at the merchant's house plays to Wesley's background and as an escape from issues at home.

The kidnapping is being primarily investigated by another team, and the murdered girl is Wesley's primary investigation. Yet Ms. Ellis cleverly designates Wesley as the hub which brings together the various spokes of the wheel in a way I didn't predict until it was revealed.

"The Merchant's House" is a very good police procedural in which the plot unfolds not by flash, but bit-by-bit, following the clues. It is filled with great characters, dialogue, humour, and a plot that kept me reading. Happily there are many more books ahead in this series.

THE MERCHANT'S HOUSE (Pol Proc-Wesley Peterson-England-Cont) - VG
Ellis, Kate - 1st in series
Piatkus, ©1998, UK Hardcover - ISBN: 0749904542
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on 21 February 2013
Set in one of the more remote and unexplored parts of England, this is an interesting start to a good series. Another historical cross over novel but this one is very well written with rounded characters and an unusual main character who has flaws and a real life to lead!
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on 7 October 2010
Thoroughly enjoyed this book.Easy read, great detail especially with regard to the archaeological bits. If you read a lot of crime fiction, then you may work out the ending (which I did but, this however,did not make my enjoyment of the book any less. I hope to get more of the series. I really liked the character of Wesley Peterson and am now feel invested in his life!!
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on 24 November 2008
A promising series debut. Ellis combines a 15th century archaelogical mystery with a contemporary murder investigation to good effect, the one thematically mirroring the other. The parallel (which emerges at the end of the book) may appear to be a little contrived, but it works nonetheless. The book cetainly improved as it went on: initially, the prose seemed a little stilted and the characterisation rather shallow. At times, it felt lacking in depth compared to some other comtemporary crime writers; by the end, however, I was absorbed and engaged.
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on 7 September 2015
Detective Sergeant Wesley Peterson investigate the death of a young woman linked to a missing child case on his first day after being transferred from London to Tradmouth in South Devon. Meanwhile his friend Neil Watson finds a dead woman in an archaeological excavation. The woman died several centuries ago and it seems that she was murdered. Oddly enough seems it to be strange similarities with the two cases...

I read and loved The Death Season, book 19 in this series in the beginning of this year. And, so I decided to buy the first book in the series to get to know Wesley Peterson and the rest of the characters in the book from the beginning.

The crime in this book was not as complicated as it was in The Death Season, it was easy to figure out how it all had happened. I prefer to read a story with a lot of twist in it. Reading a book and guessing correctly most of what will happen is just not that fun.

What made this story a bit better is that Wesley Peterson also has a degree in archaeology and while he and his colleagues is trying to solve the death of a young woman is he and his friend Neil who is working as an archaeology trying to find out who killed a young woman several centuries ago. I like the fact that Kate Ellis both writes about modern crime and at the same time her books with Wesley Peterson also have some archaeology in it.

This book may not have been as good as The Death Season, but I will continue to read the series!
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on 16 July 2013
#1 in the Wesley Peterson detective series (I believe #17 is the latest. I started with #8 and have now read the first two as well. Excellent story that leads you to think you have identified the murderer several times,only to be proved wrong in the concluding pages.
Slight error on page 94....Wesley,who turned off the tape machine."Detective Sergeant Peterson terminating this interview at seventeen twenty hours." This surely is putting the cart before the horse.
A thoroughly "arresting" novel.
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on 24 February 2015
This is the opening novel of the Wesley Peterson series, about a police sergeant and his wife moving from London to the West Country. Wesley's interest in archaeology brings the story of the merchant house to the reader's attention quickly while the diary extract of the "merchant" are excellently placed adding to the drama. The modern mystery is handled excellently for a missing child subject, something that should be handled sensitively and the author achieves this while also weaving in the story of Wesley and his wife trying to conceive their first child, bringing a tender touch to the storyline.
The locations are well described and very visual, although perhaps a few too many places covered for the first novel in the series. The sense of everyone having something to hide came across very well in this book, leaving the suspect list wide open.
The fact that this is a series could be picked up while reading this book, but I don't think it detracted from the story line, just a sense of waiting for the characters to grow a little more on the reader. I would say as a standalone novel this book was very good, but as a series I am hoping for it to be excellent.
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on 27 June 1999
I found this book a most enjoyable read. A detective Novel with an interesting main charater, well structered plot, with an intriguing parallel and a satisfying conclusion- I wont say anymore - I'll spoil it. Don't just take my word read it yourself. You wont be dissapointed
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