When a skeleton is discovered on a Devon smallholding, DS Wesley Peterson, a keen amateur archaeologist, is intrigued by the possibility that it is a Viking corpse, buried in keeping with ancient traditions. But he has a rather more urgent crime to solve- the disappearance of a Danish tourist.
Wesley finds disturbing evidence that the attractive Dane has been abducted. His boss Gerry Heffernan believes that Ingeborg's disappearance is linked to a spate of brutal robberies and that she witnessed something she shouldn't have. But is her disappearance linked to far older events? For it seems that this may not have been Ingeborg's first visit to this far from quiet West Country backwater...
Kate Ellis's wonderfully addictive series of West Country set crime novels feature Wesley Peterson, one of Devon's first black detectives.
As in her three previous mysteries (An Unhallowed Grave, etc.) featuring Det. Sgt. Wesley Peterson and Insp. Gerry Hefferman, Ellis skillfully interweaves ancient and contemporary crimes in an impeccably composed tale. Excerpts at the head of each chapter from the chronicle of Brother Edwin, monk of Neston Minster, describe the Danish Viking raids on South Devon at the end of the first millennium and provide clues to a past injustice. In the present, after a boy discovers a skeleton on his mother's smallholding, Hefferman suspects it's that of the boy's disreputable father, who vanished three years earlier. Peterson, whose degree is in archeology, thinks it may be far older and brings in a former university colleague to see whether the remains might be those of a Viking. A series of break-ins at isolated farmhouses and the disappearance of a beautiful Danish tourist, Ingeborg Larsen, complicate matters. The author tidily brings all the solutions together, Danish Viking mixing with modern-day Devonian, while an absorbing plot smoothly blends archeology with current forensic procedures. The clear, sequential flow keeps the many characters distinct. Those familiar with South Devon will have fun recognizing Dartmouth in the author's Tradmouth, Torbay in Morbay and Totnes in Neston. Ellis hints at putting Hefferman into retirement soon, but her readers should surely object, for he's doing just fine.