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A High Mortality of Doves
Kate Ellis

Piatkus (Little, Brown)
4 May 2017/ ISBN 978349413068
Mystery / Historical

Reviewed by Rachel A Hyde


Wenfield is a village in rural Derbyshire, and in 1919 its inhabitants are still recovering from the war. One morning a local girl is found dead in the woods with a dove stuffed into her mouth. Then there is another victim, and Scotland Yard sends Inspector Albert Lincoln to investigate. With a ghostly soldier seen haunting the woods and more victims, Lincoln has a limited amount of time to discover whodunit, albeit being aided by doctor’s daughter Flora Winsmore.

Ms Ellis needs no introduction to most mystery readers, as she is well known for her Wesley Peterson and Joe Plantagenet series. This is her second standalone historical novel, and like her contemporary work, it is a real page turner. I am always saying in my reviews that novels need editing, but this one has no need for it, being nicely filled in all the right ways. There are interesting characters, a well researched background, tangible sense of growing menace, a splash of romance and surprise ending that I did not see coming. The author quickly creates the atmosphere of a small place where everybody is known to everybody else and where the effects of the war are still raw and causing misery. Women and servants have had a taste of freedom with more opportunities, and the old order has been shaken up. People are having trouble adjusting back to their old places. There are a lot of suspects and plenty of red herrings for the sleuths to chase, and it all adds up to a rich and satisfying read. This is a standalone book from an author who normally writes series, but I always find that the main appeal of Ellis’s books is the plot in each one rather than the ongoing stories. With this historical title she has written a book that stays in the mind afterwards for many reasons.

Reviewed 2017