This is my first experience of Ellis’ Wesley Peterson series and I was impressed with how in this story she creates a vast web of varying narrative threads and characters spanning over a century, which by the end of the book becomes one interconnected piece.
The first of these threads is set in 1980, when an intoxicated man named Chris is saved from drowning after he decides to go for a post drinking plunge in the sea. Disaster may have been averted but we are left with an unsettling feeling when Chris’ rescuer tells him ‘that if someone saves you from drowning you belong to them from then on.’ The Death Season (2015) then jumps back in time to England, 1913 where a parlour maid’s dalliance with the son of Sandton House leads to her becoming pregnant. She believes he will do the honourable thing and marry her, yet I think most readers will be sceptical of this.
Our last narrative jump is to 2014, and this is where the majority of the story takes place, though with different groups of characters. There is Pauline who has a very suspicious fridge-freezer and that most dangerous of things (well in this book at any rate), secret information, which she hopes to use to her own advantage. We also have DI Wesley Peterson and his team members who initially begin in this story investigating a series of burglaries and the murder of a man in a local hotel, who seems to have more than one identity. However other deaths past and present soon intertwine themselves in the case, even putting those Wesley’s cares about the most in danger. The final group of characters is in the world of archaeology and Dr Neil Watson is involved in supervising both a dig of the lost village of Sandrock (which was lost due to sea erosion with most of the houses falling into the sea in 1918) and a dig at Paradise Court, which has a sinister secret. As the various strands of the story come together, they lead to a dramatic finale and an unexpected ending.
As you can see there are a number of plot threads to follow and initially I was sceptical of this, thinking it might be a hard to juggle that many different threads, but I quickly got into the story and Ellis is adept at weaving the different plot strands together. Having these different plot threads also meant that the narrative kept an exciting pace on the whole and drew you in. Although it may feel like we as readers have been given too many pieces of the puzzle in comparison to the characters, this turns out not to be the case, as Ellis creates a number of surprises and twists which make you rethink what you thought you knew. For example is there just one killer or several? And is the person you think is the killer really responsible or is there something much more menacing going on? The final narrative is an accomplished tapestry and I liked how the various story strands came together and how different groups of characters start to merge and interconnect with each other.
Although distinct periods of time are evoked in this book, various themes connect them together such as social climbing and the dangers of using information for blackmail. Moreover, Ellis uses to good effect the physical locations of her story, making them pertinent to the drama of the book and it is interesting to see how nature has a destructive background role. Furthermore, this is a book which exemplifies the link between history and detection, an issue which also came up in Martin Edwards’ The Coffin Trail (2004), which I reviewed last week. I also think that the serial characters in this book are quite likeable and interesting, making you want to read further books in the series to see what happens to them. Additionally, something which I appreciated was that although Wesley’s long work hours place a strain on his family life, there is not an overuse of policeman being besieged by personal problems.
This is definitely a book I would recommend with interesting characters (Neil Watson being a favourite of mine) and plenty of mysteries and puzzles to fathom.