Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Seeking the Dead by Kate Ellis

First Sentence:  Things that frighten the devil away.
Carmel Hennessy feels as though her small flat has a ghost, and wonders if it’s connected to the Ghost Tour whose leader always stops and points to her bedroom.  When she starts receiving very corporal anonymous threats, She turns to DI Joe Plantagenet, the former partner of her father who was killed.  DI Joe Plantagenet is leading the investigation into the murder of a woman found in the churchyard.  Rather than newly dead, it is realized she had been stunned, stripped, and kept for some time in an place where she suffocated, before being left outside.   It becomes apparent the this is only the victim in a hunt to uncover a killer, and find out what Joe's new boss, DCI Emily Thwaite, is trying to hide.
Ellis immediately captures the reader’s attention with a highly intriguing opening.  So much so, that one may even find oneself adding to the anonymous character’s list.  Even though the town of Eborby is fictional and based mainly on York, we are provided with a sense of the area’s history.  Ellis is so good at establishing a sense of place—“As she emerged from the crazy maze of ancient streets on to the cathedral square, she turned her head to stare up at the towers, intricately carved in pale-gold stone, soaring up to the heaven like arms outstretched I prayer.”
Although one isn’t tempted to let the book go, the writing and dialogue are a bit clunky at times.   Having so many characters, many of whom are not well-developed, one can lose track of who is whom. 
The structure of the plot is interesting as we learn of events from a number of different characters, not the least being the killer.  We are taken along parallel paths until events slowly start to merge and the pace accelerates.  Although there is good tension at the end, one may feel oneself rather separate from it.
Seeking the Dead” is a decent read, and this is the first book in this series.  It does hold you to the end and, in spite of the clues, it wasn’t until very near the end that the killer’s identity is suspected.  Although, not up to the standard set by Ellis’ Wesley Peterson series, Ellis is an author who always deserves another chance.    

SEEKING THE DEAD:  A JOE PLANTAGENET MURDER MYSTERY (Pol Proc-Joe Plantagenet-England-Contemp) – Okay
Ellis, Kate – 1st in series
Piatkus - 2008        

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