‘The Merchant’s House’ is Kate Ellis’s first novel in her Wesley Peterson series which now numbers over 20 novels.
DS Wesley Peterson has just moved from London to Tradmouth on the Devon Coast with his teacher wife Pam. He is an unusual policeman, having a degree in archaeology and being black (a rarity for the place and time). But he fits into his new job very quickly, partly because his predecessor was a complete Neanderthal.
At the time of Peterson’s arrival, a 2 year old boy has just been abducted – the search continues through most of the novel. On his first day of work there is a murder of a young woman. An old friend of Peterson’s, Neil Watson, is working on a dig in Tradmouth where two skeletons are discovered. Peterson and his wife have some personal issues to deal with. All four of these threads are woven together through the novel so that the solution to any one thread affects all the others.
The characters in the novel were good to get to know. I’m not sure yet which ones will continue through the series. There are some relationships between characters that have the potential to develop to the detriment of others. The main characters so far are Wesley Peterson, his friend Neil, his wife Pam, his boss DI Gerry Heffernan and his colleague Rachel. The secondary characters were also well developed.
The inclusion of archaeology in the story was a welcome touch and I can see this continuing to add interest through the series.
The crimes in this novel were fairly simple but there is the potential for more complicated plots as the series progresses.
This was an excellent start to a long running series and I’m looking forward to continuing with ‘The Armada Boy’.
Book Published 1998