On the Bookshelf...

The Plague Maiden

Kate Ellis

When a letter arrives at the police station addressed to a chief inspector Norbert, it causes quite a stir. Though Norbert has long since moved on, the letter claims to have evidence that the man convicted of murdering the Reverend Shipbourne during the course of a robbery in 1991 is innocent. Despite having a full case load—including investigating a series of vicious attacks on a local supermarket chain—detective Wesley Peterson is forced to follow up on the letter writer's claims. Meanwhile archaeologist Neil Watson is excavating a site in Pest Field when he discovers a mass grave that leads him to conclude that the site—earmarked for development—houses an ancient medieval plague pit. More disturbing is the discovery that the grave is home to a more recent resident.

The Plague Maiden by Kate Ellis is another Wesley Patterson crime story. Set in a fictional Devon (?) they feature a black Police Inspector, who formally was an archaeologist. It leads to some interesting stories. Fans of Elly Griffiths will feel instantly at home in the series. As a series it's good. Sometimes though the individual story isn't as good as the whole. For me, The Plague Maiden is a case in fact.

The story, as always, mixes events of the distant past, with a future case. A poisoner is targeting a local supermarket chain with deadly jars. Meanwhile his archaeologist friend, Neil, is digging up what could potentially be a plague burial ground on the site of a new supermarket for the same company. All nicely dovetailed together.

Usually, I like this series. It mixes my love of history and archaeology with my passion for crime fiction. Wes is a great character, one that really deserves a TV series. His crotchy boss lets Wesley have his head. Abely assisted by Rachel and detested by another PC; Wesley navigates life in Devon with a family life that is getting more fragile each book.

This time however the story didn't imprint on me as the rest of the series. Hopefully this is just a bump in the road and normal service will be resumed in the next one.

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Review by
AJ Steel
June 27, 2023

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