Wednesday, November 08, 2023

The Killing Place by Kate Ellis

First Line: The woman in the sedan chair had been wearing a powdered wig and a fine gown of blue satin, low-necked and edged with yellowing lace.
Tourist season is over in South Devon, and that should mean a quiet time for Detective Inspector Wesley Peterson, but that is not the case. 
When a man is found shot dead on Bonfire Night in woodland connected to a grand eighteenth-century estate called Nesbaraton Hall, Peterson learns the victim was an employee of the owners who are away on holiday. Then an anonymous letter is discovered which threatens to abduct the owners' son, and the inspector wonders if the dead man might have had a connection to the kidnap plot.

Meanwhile, archaeologist Dr. Neil Watson has uncovered a hidden grotto on land that was once part of the Nesbaraton estate. Evidence of past rituals and a skeleton raise questions about what has been occurring on the estate both in the past and the present-- especially when there's another murder in a nearby village. Peterson and his team are now racing to find a killer before the body count rises any higher.


When it comes to blending mystery, history, and an engaging ensemble cast, few authors are better than Kate Ellis. I have been a fan of this series since 1998's The Merchant House, and I eagerly await each new installment.

One of the things I always enjoy is the historical/archaeological element Ellis weaves into her stories, and I've learned a lot about English social history as a result. That said, I do have to admit that the historical element in The Killing Place is not one of my favorites. The eighteenth-century owner of Nesbaraton Hall was one of those entitled snobs who believed he was above the law and should be allowed to do anything he wanted: weird rituals, drinking to excess, and any other sort of debauchery with his chosen chums-- up to and including murder. This is modeled after the Hellfire Club in Buckinghamshire during the same period.

Although the historical element may not have been my cup of tea, there was still plenty to like about this latest installment of a favorite long-running series. The mystery was a strong one, as usual, and it is always a pleasure to catch up with the lives of this engaging ensemble cast. It is definitely a case of diverse personalities coming together to work to solve crimes. Peterson and his team never give up until they've solved the case.
If you happen to be a fan of Elly Griffiths' Dr. Ruth Galloway series, I highly recommend this one to you. If the thought of starting at the beginning of a twenty-seven-volume series scares the pudding out of you, jump in anywhere. In fact, The Killing Place has enough backstory for the characters that you shouldn't feel lost. Give it a try!
The Killing Place by Kate Ellis
eISBN: 9780349433134
Piatkus © 2023
eBook, 368 pages
Police Procedural, #27 Wesley Peterson mystery
Rating: B+
Source: Purchased from Amazon.


  1. As soon as I saw you were doing a Kate Ellis, Cathy, I knew I'd like the post. I haven't kept up with her series as I'd like to, but I do like it a lot. And, yes, the history element is a big part of what appeals to me.

  2. Another series I haven't read and another one to add to the reading list.

  3. I love that archaeological element in any book! And what a great cover. I think I'd like this one. :D

  4. I enjoy this series, and have been reading entries as I find them rather than trying to read it in order, without any problems in knowing what's going on with the continuing characters. You've reminded me that I should see which books - besides this new one - I still need to find.

    1. I'm so glad to hear that you're enjoying this series, Kate!


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