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The Mermaid's Scream by Kate Ellis - Review

Monday, December 6, 2021


I was browsing books in the library a few weeks ago and came across this book, which is part of a series centred on detective Wesley Peterson. I do know that many of these detective series can be read as standalones; the authors always give you enough information for you to understand what has happened previously. This one didn't do that much actually, except to tell us that Wesley's wife Pam had previously been ill with breast cancer and is recovering.

Wesley works alongside a woman called Rachel, who I liked, and their boss Gerry. But not all the books is from the police's point of view, there's a lot from the point of view of other people too. 

We start off with Zac Wilkinson, a journalist and writer, who is writing a biography about a reclusive author called Wynn Staniland. He is staying near Staniland's house in Devon (I think) and has been in touch with the author. Staniland wrote a much lauded book called The Viper's Kiss, but shortly after that his wife took her own life in a similar way to a suicide in the book - which in its turn was written based on an historic murder in the area. Staniland lives with his stepdaughter and is rarely seen in public. 

Zac is due to give a talk at a local library when he doesn't turn up. It turns out he has many, many ghosts from the past and a lot of enemies. One of them has turned up to threaten him... but has this person killed him?

Then two bodies turn up in a static caravan at a nearby farm. At first, it looks like they have taken their own lives, but Wesley gets a bit of a bee in his bonnet about it and discovers they've been poisoned. The couple were on holiday from their home in Leeds, and seem to have no ties to the area, so who would have wanted them dead?

I like the main mystery around Staniland and the deaths of Zac and the couple in the caravan, but I thought some of the other stuff, including an archaeological dig at a local manor house, was distracting and pointless. I also found the whole cast of characters baffling, I wish a few characters had been cut entirely. I did find the book compelling and I finished it, but I won't bother with the series again and and giving this three out of five.

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