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The Mermaid’s Scream
Wesley Peterson Mysteries – Book XXI
Kate Ellis

Piatkus (Little, Brown)
2 February 2017/ ISBN 9780349413099

Reviewed by Rachel A Hyde 


Wynn Staniland wrote several literary masterpieces until his wife committed suicide in the same manner as one of his characters. Since then he has lived as a recluse, but now a young writer called Zac Wilkinson has completed his biography and it is about to be published. Before that happens, he is found murdered, and there appear to be links to a couple being found dead in a nearby caravan park. What is the connection between these deaths and a sinister puppet show re-enacting the murder of Mary Field, a Victorian case which inspired one of Staniland’s own novels? Wesley Peterson investigates.

I look forward to these books and often wish there was more than one a year, but then perhaps they would not be so well constructed and enjoyable. Firstly, they contain tortuous and involving plots, full of red herrings, twists and unexpected developments. They are mysteries throughout, never veering off into other genres and are nicely filled with detection. Secondly, as with all series, we get to find out what else the characters are up to. Wesley worries about his wife who is recovering from cancer and is eager to get to the bottom of whatever his son is up to. Rachel gloomily plans her wedding, Neil is given a spooky new dig site, Gerry sees a face from the past and Della tries to obtain Staniland for her book club. Thirdly, the author draws a very accurate picture of life in modern Devon, which is where I live. She shows its problems with being a rural backwater ignored by the government as well as its beauty, mystery and attraction as a vacation spot. This all adds up to a thoroughly enjoyable whole, especially when you count in the unusual mix of the past and present spiced with a touch of the bizarre. Twenty-one books and still as fresh as ever, may this series continue for many years.

Reviewed 2017