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on 9 June 2013
I have read all the Wesley Peterson stories and this a good read. It is good to read the books in order because the characters develop but could also be read as a stand alone. So, not the best one for me, but a good read.
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on 20 March 2017
Got the whole series - splendid.
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on 9 September 2012
I enjoy all Kate Ellis books, especially the Wesley Peterson series. This one is a reliably good read that doesn't try to be clever. Ideal for a holiday read, or sitting in the garden.
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on 1 June 2012
Kate Ellis' writing career began with the publication of 'The Merchant's House', the first Wesley Peterson investigation, back in 1998. 'The Cadaver Game' is the sixteenth in the Wesley Peterson series, and in the last five or six years she has also published four novels featuring DI Joe Plantagenet, set in York, and one stand-alone novel, The Devil's Priest, published in 2006. A second stand-alone novel is scheduled for publication next year.

'The Cadaver Game' gets into gear from the outset. Two teenagers are shot dead on page 5; on page 6, the intercut sub-plot set in 1815 gets underway with the promise of more violence, and on page 8 a maggot-infested body is discovered. There is no shortage of action, and it continues until the final solution emerges some 350 pages later. Other reviewers have provided additional details of the plot, so I won't repeat them here.

I can't deny that I enjoyed reading this book but, although there's lots of potential in the plot and and among the characters, not enough of that potential is realised. The plotting is intricate but there are several flaws, at least one of which has serious implications in relation to the final solution. Most readers will have devoured several of the earlier books and will be familiar with the character of Wesley Peterson, but taking this book in isolation the characterisation is pretty two-dimensional; he's tall, black, well-educated, married with a young family and definitely one of the good guys - but that's about all we learn about him. He's a Detective Inspector, working under Detective Chief Inspector Gerry Heffernan - and Heffernan doesn't seem to have any discernable responsibilities, which leaves him free to chat to Wesley about the case and to accompany him on most of his travels. About the only character with whom I feel any sort of empathy is local archaeologist Neil Watson, who was one of Wesleys university coursemates. Though Wesley has forsaken the trowel for the truncheon, their paths cross on a regular basis.

The Peterson novels are set in the South Hams area of Devon - the bulgy bit that protrudes into the English Channel between Exeter and Plymouth - and particularly in the eastern half of that area. The place names are all changed; in the following examples from the present book the name used in the book is in brackets: Dartmouth(Tradmouth), Totnes(Neston), Torbay(Morbay), Kingswear(Queenswear), Kingsbridge(Dukesbridge) - you'll see the pattern. Some readers may enjoy working out the real names from the invented (but related) names used in the book, but I can't see that it adds anything to the narrative; if you don't know the area it means nothing and if you do (and I've spent time in some excellent pubs around Totnes!) it's merely a distraction.

Kate Ellis clearly has the potential to do better than this. She writes pretty good dialogue, is a skilful plotter, and knows how to hold the reader's attention. The use of an intercut historic backstory in her novels is original and certainly a bonus for her readers. Too often, though, her books lack credibility. That's not to say I look for too much realism in a crime novel - real crime isn't exactly entertaining - but credibility is another matter. The reader needs to believe that things just COULD happen as they are portrayed, even if it doesn't seem very likely, so the Peterson-Heffernan working relationship needs to be tidied up, and other incredible occurrences need to be beefed up with better justification. Better editing would help, too.

In short, if you're a fan of the likes of John Harvey and Ian Rankin, or a devotee of P. D. James or Ruth Rendell, this book may not be for you; the pity is that a bit more effort spent on editing could easily make it so. Despite those reservations, it's still a superb book for reading on the beach. I spend much of my time wrestling with legal and technical prose, so for relaxation I enjoy fairly light reading - which, of course, is why I enjoyed this book and will no doubt buy the next title in the series. I just can't shake off the conviction that Kate Ellis is not using her talents to the full.
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HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICEon 7 August 2012
A woman's body is found in a house. She has been dead a week. The automatic assumption is that she is probably the tenant of the rented property but then one of her friends claims to have spoken to her on the phone and that she is in France. Wesley Peterson and the investigation team think the friend is lying. Then the bodies of two teenagers are found on a beach and one of them is DC Paul Johnson's cousin. Wesley's archaeologist friend Neil is digging up a picnic for an artist who deliberately buried it sixteen years ago. He does not expect to find a skeleton.

When it starts to emerge that a group of people are involved in a game called Blood Hunt the story becomes darker and more deadly. Why would anyone want to pursue naked teenagers through the woods at night and why would the teenagers want to take part? Wesley and his boss Gerry are baffled by the ramifications of these cases - are they all connected or is it coincidence? As ever it is dedicated and methodical police work which unravels the crimes and ensures the criminals are brought to justice.

I enjoyed this complex and many layered mystery and liked the way past and present are linked. I also liked the way the relationships between police characters are developed over the series. I think the way past and present are shown to be connected is also very well done with some interesting extracts from (imaginary) journals from the beginning of the nineteenth century bringing the hunting vividly to life. I recommend this series to anyone who likes crime novels which are that bit different.
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on 17 February 2012
An anonymous telephone call points the police to the discovery of a dead body at a cottage in Morbay. The place is rented to a Tessa Trencham but the body has been lying there a while, and the maggots have been busy so visual identification is not possible. Investigating are DI Wesley Peterson and his boss DCI Gerry Heffernan. Whilst they are seeking dental records, the bodies of two teenagers are found naked and shot.

Always short of money for his digs archaeologist Neil Watson, Wesley's university friend, has reluctantly accepted a bizarre commission from an artist, who has permission from the son of the owner of Catton Hall to dig up a `Feast of Art' in one of his fields, but Neil is having a hard job, keeping his volunteers motivated.

Running along side the current investigations is a separate story of manhunts in 1815 and related through two journals, one kept by John Tandy, a jester and the other by Christopher Wells, steward to Squire Edward Catton, an ancestor of the current owner of Catton Hall..

Searching for a motive for the killing of the teenagers, Wesley discovers that they were both playing an online game, Blood Hunt. Could they be playing this online game for real? And if so, who is the organiser?

Intricately plotted this is an absorbing tale, as the past merges into the present. Who could be running human hunts? How fascinating is it that history could be repeating it self.

A dual tale of human hunting that gives us pause for thought. Can this happen today?
Highly recommended.
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Lizzie Hayes
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TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICEon 11 August 2015
The author tells two stories in this book - one in the present time and then one in the nineteenth century which is revealed from diary extracts. The present day story examines the death of two young people on the edge of a country estate and the growing conclusion that they have been part of a macabre game. In the past story we hear of an evil squire and his brother who use their deformed fool to create a hunting game using real people. In addition to these two main plots the story also includes an archaeological dig which unearths a body whilst it is trying to dig up the remains of a meal which was buried and unearthed as art.

The main protagonist is the author's series black policeman Wesley Peterson who works for the Devon police and is connected with teh archaeologist. The fact that he's black is not really an issue in the book and gets few mentions although there is no particular reason why it should be a major plot point. We also don't get to see much of his family or to learn a lot about his colleagues. The investigation is pretty straightforward and as the reader is privy to the historical narrative as well it is pretty evident what has happened although the author does include an excellent twist towards the end.

There are a few problems with this book. The characters are bland and unformed and the plot is very far fetched. The whole issue with the buried picnic is odd but actually more believable than the solution to the murder mystery. The whole historical narrative doesn't really fit at all, especially the parts about the mysterious woman - the book would work just as well had it been omitted altogether. It completely passes belief that two diaries would be discovered that tell the story so clearly from two points of view.

I didn't think that this book worked a a murder mystery and a lot of it was unrealistic. I didn't engage with the characters and I found the historical element of the story didn't add anything to the book.
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VINE VOICEon 27 July 2013
Is this the most shocking ending to a book I've ever read? Of course I'm not going to divulge it.............

I've read all of the Wesley Peterson novels more or less in order and can't in truth say this was the best. There was a fair rash of characters and they didn't always seem to fit into the plot as neatly as usual, nor did past and present seem to hang together so seamlessly. Gerry and Wes continue their very easy-going relationship and Ellis really does work wonders in blending them into this. She is excellent in the manner in which she puts the meat onto the bones of her characters so that the reader feels the nuances in their conversations. If you want a novel which goes out with a bang this is the one.
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on 25 February 2015
Having read and enjoyed several in this series, I was looking forward to another Kate Ellis novel, with its mixture of murder revealed in the past, and it's present day counterpart. Wesley Peterson makes a sympathetic detective as a young West Indian feeling rather out of place, having settled in the West Country with his family. Unfortunately, I found the story totally bizarre and and most of the characters unbelievable so have decided to award only 2 stars this time. Just not for me.
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on 22 August 2015
For regulars of this excellent series - I think this is the best yet. It has a different twis and not so much repetition of the same themes
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