Piatkus – June 2000
ISBN 0749931736 - PB
Police / Detective  - British

Reviewed by Rachel Hyde,
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Stokeworthy is an unremarkable Devon village until two teenage girls find a body hanging from a tree in the churchyard.  The woman is Pauline Brent, the doctor’s receptionist who has lived quietly in the village for fifteen years – so quietly in fact that nobody seems to know anything about her.  When DS Wesley Peterson’s archaeologist friend Neil exhumes the body of a woman at a nearby dig who had died five centuries before in similar circumstances the plot thickens – or has the find given him a clue as to the killer’s identity? 

 Detective work and historical research are hand in hand in this engaging mystery, third in the series about Wesley Peterson, the detective with a degree in archaeology.  The plot twists and turns, having as many red herrings as a well-stocked fishmonger’s and not a spare word.  What makes it stand out for me (even more than the teasing and imaginative plot and likeable characters) is the author’s evocation of modern Devon.  This is no old fashioned “cozy” English village out of a classic detective story but a workaday village complete with unpopular new developments, artist’s studios, not a great many community activities and two buses a day, more charming to holidaymakers than to its residents, to whom it is home rather than a rose-covered idyll.  A good many modern crime novels tend to be either grim and gritty or gentle and cosy but this sits squarely between the two. 

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The Flesh Tailor #14
The Shadow Collector #17
The Shroud Maker #18
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