A year on from 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 fourteenth century Mayor of Tradmouth who made his fortune from trade and piracy. And 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 the truth... a truth that will bring mortal danger in its wake.
'Well worth a read for anyone who enjoys a traditional detective story with an intriguing historical twist . . . Ellis is a fine storyteller, weaving the past and present in a way that makes you want to read on'. Peterborough Evening Telegraph
"A gripping tale" My Weekly
"This is the 18th in a series of well received novels featuring DI Wesley Peterson. Kate Ellis is a native of Britain’s North West – Manchester and Liverpool – but Peterson does his business in England’s largest south western county, Devon. Don’t expect an exclusive diet of cider and cream teas, though. This is gritty crime featuring spite, revenge and strangling, set in a breathtaking landscape. In Ellis’s books, history is woven seamlessly into the plot, and once again, shadows from the past are cast over the patchy sunlight of the present." Crimefictionlover
"It's a year on since the last Palkin Festival when Jenny Bercival disappeared and this time D I Wesley Peterson is called in when the body of a young woman is discovered floating out to sea in a dinghy. The town is packed with visitors who've come to celebrate the life of the fourteenth century mayor of Tradmouth, but John Palkin was no saint either, having made his fortune in trade and the odd bit of piracy. Jenny Bercival's mother is convinced that her daughter is still alive - she's even received some letters which back this up - but Peterson is concerned that the two cases might be linked. If one woman has been brutally murdered the outlook for the one who has been missing for a year doesn't look good.
Kate Ellis's books nimbly mix history with mystery in the present day but this time we also have a neat nod to the internet and games with a fantasy website called Shipworld where John Palkin is a supernatural hero and many of those involved in the case are referenced on the site. To complicate matters further there's also a link to the nineteenth century and a descendant of John Palkin - although here the reader knows more than the detectives.
It seem to have become a tradition that fictional detectives have to be hard-drinking, ungodly womanisers and I'm pleased that Kate Ellis has bucked the trend. I was very impressed by D I Joe Plantagenet in her series set in North Yorkshire. Wesley Peterson might not be immune to temptation but he's an honest man, conscious of his work and his family responsibilities. He's of West Indian descent but it was reassuring that Ellis didn't make too much of this.
As with all Ellis's books the research is impeccable but she resists the temptation to shoehorn in every fact she can lay her hands on. I found the book slightly long - that could be because I'm no aficionado of historical festivals - but it was still a good read with some twists which I didn't see coming." thebookbag.co.uk
"The Shroud Maker is the latest in Kate Ellis's long series set in a fictionalised Dartmouth, and featuring DI Wesley Peterson. Regular readers of this blog will know that I'm a fan of Kate's books, and the first thing to say about this one is that is definitely up to standard. I thought I'd figured out the solution, but although I'd latched on to one element of the plot, much of the ending came as a surprise to me.
The story is complex,and as usual, events in the present have a parallel with a mystery of the past. Although I don't know much about archaeology, Kate's specialist subject, I am very keen on history, and there are events in medieval times and at the end of the nineteenth century that add a level of fascination to the story, as well as plenty of plot complication when old bones are unearthed in a dig.
Quite apart from these echoes of the past, the part of the story set in the present is complicated in itself. It features a curious online game (Kate's fascination with games, which I share, was also evident in the excellent The Cadaver Game) and involves the mystery of a young woman who went missing a year ago, during a local festival with historic roots. Then another young woman disappears. The gripping storyline involves not only Wesley, but also, in a very personal way, his boss Gerry. One of the various sub-plots involves a trip that Wesley takes to Manchester with a young colleague who fancies him. Suffice to say that there is a lot going on in this story, and I'm absolutely confident that I will not be the only reader who fails to figure out how all the different plot strands inter-link.
Kate and I write differently in a number of important ways, but we do share a number of interests, and as mystery fans and writers of the same generation from the north west of England, we naturally have quite a lot in common. I was struck by the fact that one aspect of this story was not a million miles away from a sub-plot in my current work-in-progress (which nobody else, not even my agent, has yet seen), while another was slightly comparable to something that happens in my last book, The Frozen Shroud.(yep, there is, as Margery Allingham would say, a fashion in shrouds!). Yet we never discuss our story ideas with each other, so how does this happen, and should we worry about it? I think it happens because some ideas (and book titles) tend to fit with the mood of a particular time, and appeal especially to writers with similar concerns. Tess Gerritsen, for instance, used the same title, The Bone Garden, that Kate had used previously. I'm sure it's nothing for either of us to worry about, because the books in question are actually very distinct. This sort of thing has always happened - I've come across many examples while researching Golden Age fiction, for instance, and I have no doubt that it always will." Martin Edwards