Another Review at MyShelf.Com

The Funeral Boat
West Country Murder Mysteries, No 4
Kate Ellis

Piatkus Books
2009 / ISBN: 0749937017
Police Procedural / England / Contemporary

Reviewed 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.


Reviewed 2011
© 2011