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The Cadaver Game
Wesley Peterson Murder Mystery Series - Book XVI
Kate Ellis

Piatkus (little, Brown)
3 February 2011 / ISBN-13: 9780749953720
Mystery / Contemporary / Devon, England
Amazon US - UK

Reviewed by Rachel A Hyde

When two teenage bodies are found at the foot of a cliff, it looks at first as though they are victims of a suicide pact. But somebody has shot them, and why are they naked? Meanwhile, DI Wesley Peterson is dealing with the case of a woman found dead in her home. Too decomposed to identify after some days lying undiscovered, nobody is quite sure who she is. The case becomes even more baffling when it becomes apparent that the teenagers had been taking part in a bizarre form of hunting without a fox, a tradition which dates back to the Regency and which is a part of a sinister local story.

If you like police procedurals, immersing yourself in a well-drawn location and a historical angle, then this excellent series is for you. I live in Devon myself and applaud the way Ms Ellis has the county spot on; and for anybody who knows the area, spotting local places and folklore adds to the fun. This is an involved (and involving) story in the best sense of the word, with a large cast of characters, a trawler load of red herrings and puzzles within puzzles that are sure to keep any reader on their toes. Ms Ellis has an enviably readable style and paces her tale well, managing to balance the right amount of procedural, local history, archaeology and the domestic lives of her series characters. She is adept at making her characters into people we care about, and manages to make even the minor ones more than mere ciphers. This is a series that shows no signs of running out of steam, and one of my very favorite contemporary detective series. May it continue and never be ruined by being dramatised for television!

Reviewed 2012