West Country Murder Mysteries, No 4
2009 / ISBN: 0749937017
Police Procedural / England / Contemporary
by L J Roberts
First Sentence: The boy’s heart pounded rapidly as he
searched for a place to hide.
Ingeborg Larsen, a visitor from Denmark, has disappeared from
the bed and breakfast at which she was staying. Daniel Wexer encountered
burglars in his home and left seriously wounded by a shotgun blast.
Local farm laboror, Jack Palister, disappeared, leaving behind a
wife and son on whose property has now been found a skeleton. Rather
than being that of Jack, it is a thousand-year-old Viking in a funeral
boat. The Tradmouth police are having a busy time with all these
separate cases on their hands. Or are they all separate?
Ms. Ellis’ prologue provides an opening that is both terrible
and compelling. She gives you no chance to put the book down now.
With the Chapter One header, we are jumping into the ancient past
and are left in suspense and intrigues. Once into the chapter itself,
we see the echoes to the past.
I so enjoy the ensemble cast of characters and that we get to know
each of them better with every book. Here we learn more of Gerry
Huffernan’s past, the head of the homicide team. There is
a charming scene of Huffernan and his son accidently running into
one another. The characters have families, and lives and concerns
beyond their roles as police officers.
The dialogue works, but Ellis does not have the same “ear”
for it as for some authors. It always seems a bit stilted, rather
than flowing. As a police procedural, the investigative steps are
quite interesting and acceptably believable. However, I am amazed
how everyone always confesses.
“The Funeral Boat” is yet another very enjoyable book
in this series which deftly brings the past together with the present
through fascinating historical and archeological details while still
being a compelling police procedural.