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An Unhallowed Grave by Kate Ellis

In books read on July 23, 2002

I couldn't find the second in this series as it seems to be out of print in the UK so I skipped straight on to the third. I'm torn between enjoying this book quite a lot and finding the structure of the series too constricting to be liked.

This series is about Wesley Peterson and the other detectives of Tradmouth in Devon, where Tradmouth is a thinly disguised version of Dartmouth. I like the characters and find the majority of them believeable, especially the female members of the cast such as Wesley's wife Pam and his colleague Rachel Tracey. The plots themselves are believeable up to a point and the intersection of police work and archaeology is interesting. I'm finding this series to be difficult to get my head round though because there are just too many coincidences between the police work and the archaeology.

The structure of these books seems to be: Police start to investigate murder; Wesley bumps into his archaeologist mate Neil who is doing a dig somewhere near the murder; Dig turns out to involve a body who was murdered or a murderer; Murder involved in the dig turns out to be exactly the same story as the present day murder. And by exactly the same story I mean that the murders involve the same family members, the same places, the same motives, the same methods. In this one there is a element of copycatness involved between the two crimes but it still stretchs credulity a little bit far. I also think that it might make the later books in the series a bit predictable. In this one I was still willing to believe that the crimes wouldn't be as tightly related as they were.

It's almost that having dreamt up a series which combines police detection with archaelogical detection Ellis has done too well. The neatness of her plots is detracting from the other parts of the story. In a less well written book it would be easier to suspend disbelief and go along with the parallel crimes but the true to life characters make this a difficult task here. I'll certainly try another book in this series and see how I enjoy it.

Purchased on 11th July 2002.

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