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The Merchant's House (Wesley Peterson #1)

3.77  ·  Rating Details  ·  915 Ratings  ·  92 Reviews
Detective Sergeant Wesley Peterson's first day finds him investigating the death of a young woman who may be connected to a kidnapped child. As the suspense builds, a strange parallel emerges between his case and the two skeletons found in the ruins of a 17th century merchant's house. With stellar characterizations and sharp plotting, readers will find themselves completel ...more
Hardcover, 256 pages
Published May 1st 1999 by Thomas Dunne Books (first published 1998)
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Great Archeological Thrillers
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Community Reviews

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Detective Sergeant Wesley Peterson investigates the death of a young woman linked to a missing child case on his first day after being transferred from London to Tradmouth in South Devon. Meanwhile, his friend Neil Watson finds a dead woman in an archaeological excavation. The woman died several centuries ago and it seems that she was murdered. Oddly enough seems it to be strange similarities with the two cases...

I read and loved The Death Season, book 19 in this series at the beginning of this
Cora Tea Party Princess
Oct 05, 2013 Cora Tea Party Princess rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: crime and history lovers
It's rare for me to finish a book in just one sitting nowadays when I'm so busy but I managed it with this one. And now I'm desperate to get my hands on the next in the series!

This story is a wonderful blend of modern crime/thriller/mystery and historical conspiracy. And it works so so well.

I couldn't stop turning the pages, reading on. Something about this book just hooked me.

I loved that there was a historical aspect to it. This detective was more than just crime-orientated, he has outside int
First Sentence: The child flung his tricycle aside and toddled, laughing, toward the basking cat.

A university graduate in archeology and the first black police officer in Tradmouth, DS Wesley Peterson begins his first day at work with a murder. The body of a young woman has been found off a cliff path, the damage to her face rendering her unrecognizable. Wesley’s university friend, Neill, is heading a team of archeologists on the site of a 17th century merchant’s house in town when the skeleton
Ann Smith
Jan 02, 2016 Ann Smith rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: kate-ellis, reviewed
Kate Ellis's Wesley Peterson series is one I have wanted to read for a long time so I decided one of my 2016 aims would be to read the entire run of 20 titles. This is the first in the series and I don't feel I will have any problems reading the rest. The combination of police procedural (the murder of a young woman on a coastal path) and archaeological mystery (the discovery of the ancient skeletons of a woman child in the cellar of an ancient building) is handled quite well, although this bein ...more
Nov 26, 2013 Susan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2013, british-mystery
I enjoyed the parallels between a murder mystery in the past with one in the present. The author did a fine job of incorporating both worlds into the storyline without confusing the reader.

I always enjoy a good archaeology tale and this one did not disappoint. However, the subject matter was something I had no interest in so could not get emotionally involved in the story.

However, I have the next in the series waiting for me and will look forward to reading it.
Feb 13, 2015 Bill rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is the first Wesley Peterson mystery. Sgt Peterson has moved to a small town in England after a start in London. A smaller force, a new start for his wife and Wesley, he arrives as the local force is investigating the disappearance of a small boy and has just started investigating the murder of a mysterious woman. Thrown into this mix, Peterson's wife, Pamela is struggling to sort out why she can't get pregnant, involving visits to a private clinic. Peterson is a likable character and the o ...more
May 15, 2013 Jan rated it really liked it
This is the first book in the series about DS Wesley Peterson and his West Country Police Department. Unfortunately, I read book two first, however, by the time I picked this up, I was familiar with the characters. Which maybe made the read a little more enjoyable.

DS Peterson is transferred from a London posting to the West Country. He has a mixed marriage and his wife Pam is real pushy to have a child, she is a substitute teacher, in a district unfamiliar to her.

After reading two books of thes
Lisa Guidarini
Jan 03, 2013 Lisa Guidarini rated it it was amazing
I love starting out the New Year with a nice, grisly murder, don't you? Especially when it's set in the lovely Devonshire region of England, supplemented with a parallel storyline in which an Elizabethan woman is murdered for much the same reasons as the contemporary woman - poor, friendless souls!
Liverpool native Kate Ellis - now working on the 17th novel in the Wesley Peterson series - started out these novels with such verve and supreme storytelling talent I can't imagine how much better her
Jun 16, 2012 Janebbooks rated it it was amazing
Two mysteries for the price of one..., July 13, 2011

"Each of my Wesley Peterson stories combines an intriguing contemporary murder mystery with a parallel history case," declares Kate Ellis on her website. Ellis, an "armchair" archeologist, has written fifteen of these mysteries. THE MERCHANT'S HOUSE (1999) is the debut novel and introduces Detective Sergeant Wesley Peterson, who with his wife Pam, a supply teacher, has left London to accept a position with the police of the fictional seaport t
Pamela Mclaren
A wonderful addition to my list of mystery authors that I enjoy. This is a cozy in that it happens in a smallish community yet it pulls no punches with the action, tension and suspense. I love the co-mingling of an old and a new story: the new being the investigation into the death of a young woman that may be connected to a kidnapped child; the old comes out in layers as an archaeological team digs at the site of a 17th-century merchant's house and find the skeletons of a young woman and baby.

Aug 19, 2013 Sunnie rated it liked it
A decent if not particularly memorable police procedural
The first in a series.

Very likeable characters, good interactions between them, several threads to the story. There is the case of a woman found bashed to death, a missing toddler and an archaeological mystery.

I liked that the characters had lives outside of work with interests in hobbies.

A few minor quibbles. There are a couple of instances where the detectives seemed to take information given to them and not check it properly. Also found
Oswego Public Library District
An intelligent, seamless blend of contemporary British mystery with a lesser historical story line woven throughout. The plot is delightfully complex and the truth will elude the reader to the end. This is the first novel in a lengthy series. With a smooth touch, Kate Ellis includes the topics of biracial marriage, job racism, lonely older men, and the longing for a child. No sex and the violence is not graphic. Good reading ahead. -Gloria

Click here to place this book on hold.
Christine Barr
Loved these books, you are very talented Kate!
Katie Bee
May 20, 2016 Katie Bee rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2016-books-read
I really enjoyed this book! I listened to it on audiobook, which I find to be a different experience than my usual practice (which is to devour whole books in one three-hour sitting). In this case, it worked very well; I liked all the different threads that weave through this book, and thought Ellis handled them skilfully.

I did feel quite gutted for (view spoiler). And I thought that (view spoiler)
KL Caley
Feb 24, 2015 KL Caley rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is the opening novel of the Wesley Peterson series, about a police sergeant and his wife moving from London to the West Country. Wesley’s interest in archaeology brings the story of the merchant house to the reader’s attention quickly while the diary extract of the “merchant” are excellently placed adding to the drama. The modern mystery is handled excellently for a missing child subject, something that should be handled sensitively and the author achieves this while also weaving in the sto ...more
The Merchant’s House by Kate Ellis is the first book of the Wesley Peterson murder mystery series set in contemporary England with a parallel story in Elizabethan time. Sergeant Wesley Peterson and his wife Pam have just moved from London to Tradmouth, a small port town in Devon (fictitious; loosely based on Dartmouth). His intelligence and tact make him a welcome addition to the Tradmouth force. A nice surprise on his first day at work is to discover his archaeologist friend Neil working a dig ...more
Valerie Penny
May 30, 2014 Valerie Penny rated it really liked it
Kate Ellis was born and raised in Liverpool, England. She studied drama in Manchester then worked as a teacher, and in accountancy before her writing achieved success when she won the North West Playwrights Competition. However, crime and mystery stories have always fascinated her, as has medieval history so she tries to bring these elements into her books. She is married with two grown up sons and she lives in North Cheshire, England, with her husband and a cat.

In The Merchant’s House DS Wesley
Jan 23, 2016 Janice rated it really liked it
Begins with 3 short scenes: a child is kidnapped, a skeleton is unearthed at the archeology dig in town, a disfigured body is found off a walking path. Then at the beginning of each chapter is a journal reading from a merchant of the town in 1623. Very interesting start and I liked it. The main character is DS Wesley Peterson who just transferred from London to the small river port village of Tradmouth. He's the first black policeman in the village and has a white wife. His boss and most of his ...more
Sep 18, 2012 Kaylol rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
It's ok I guess. It's the kind of paperback that you buy while on holiday or at the beach, read it while waiting for the bus on sunbathing and forget all about it as soon as you finish it.

I like the characters. But the story, though not bad, was very predicatable. The writing could have been better.
Nov 22, 2015 Sameera77 rated it really liked it
A very good combination of modern police procedural and historical mystery. The excerpts from the 17th century merchant's diary are mixed with the contemporary investigations of kidnapping a two-year boy and battering to death a twenty-something woman. Just as the police are trying to find the missing boy and to learn who killed the woman, the archaeologists are uncovering two skeletons in the 17th century merchant's house.

It is doubtful that DS Wesley Peterson would expect such a variety of ca
This book introduces the characters in a new series. At this point they are still skin deep sketches. The mystery needed a bit of a jolt with a cattle prod to move it along a bit. All in all I would like to give the author and the characters another chance in the next book,THE ARMADA BOY.
Jan 12, 2015 Nini rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2015
I really enjoyed this book being a history buff I found both murder investigations to be intriguing. I liked the way the personal lifes of the officers were included as they seemed to compliment the investigation at hand and not overshadow it. Personally I found that Wesley the main character and series lead did not make as much of an impact of his Liverpudlian boss.
As for the crimes themselves you are given enough hints to lead you in the right direction with a fair share of red herrings. Ulti
Feb 27, 2012 Trish rated it really liked it
Most enjoyable whodunit. Fully rounded characters,well described west country scenery and a parallel storyline from history.
This is the first in a series so I anticipate getting to know Wesley Peterson better.
Gary Van Cott
Aug 29, 2014 Gary Van Cott rated it liked it
I was a bit surprised to find this book which is the first in a long series. I like the police characters which is important to me and the story was ok. Negatives: the author seems especially taken with SVO sentence structure which makes the writing style a bit boring. Also there were what were supposed to be excerpts from a diary written in the early 1600s (a few years after the death of Shakespeare). I did not think that these excerpts were an accurate representation of writing style and word ...more
Feb 02, 2016 Geraldine rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: crime, series, 2015
A decent first in a series book. Enjoyable if flawed.

I'm tempted to use the word formulaic, even though I'm not entirely sure what it means! Beginning, middle and end? Yup, tick.

A murder has occurred, police investigate, police get side-tracked for a while, murder is eventually resolved. Yup, tick.

Certain clues are flagged as we go along, some of the plot/detection work relies on coincidences. Yup, tick.

That's what I paid for.

There is decent characterisation, and some character development duri
Oct 22, 2012 Icewineanne rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery-crime
I found this a very enjoyable mystery. Kate Ellis' book featuring a black police detective newly transferred from London to a small town, is a pleasant and easy read, it's perfect for the long commute to and from work. It has all of the characters that you would expect; a close friend from the past, who also happens to be working in this new town, providing the detective with an escape from work and personal stress; the moody wife; the easy-going and attractive new co-worker (perhaps a change of ...more
Jun 19, 2011 Spuddie rated it liked it
#1 DS Wesley Peterson mystery. Wesley is newly installed as a DS in Tradmouth, South Devon after working for several years in London. He's greeted on his first day with a murder when a dog-walker finds a body of an unidentified woman, her face bashed in. While he's soon busy jumping right in with the investigation, Wesley has a few personal things to deal with too--his wife's depression over her continued infertility and being a minority in a predominantly white population. There's also a missin ...more
Feb 16, 2015 Sonia rated it liked it
I liked the way the investigation developed and the way all the apparently different matters connected in the end, the past and the present, the different characters.
I also noticed how the author seems to have a positive, hopeful attitude towards some of her characters who live on the edge, giving a sort of happy ending to their lives: the young thief who decides to get back to school, the father of the child who changes his miserable gambling life to look after his kid and so on. It promises to
Virginia Van
Wesley Peterson is new to the picturesque West County and the first black police officer, so he wants to make a good impression when the body of a dead woman is found, her face battered beyond recognition. Is the murder somehow tied to a child abduction also under investigation? Or the skeletal remains found by Wes archaeologist friend Neil in the cellar of a 17th c. merchant's house. First in the Wesley Peterson series.
Linda  Branham Greenwell
I enjoyed this novel. It is about a black policeman in a small english village. There are several stories intertwined. The death of a young woman, the kidnapping of a little boy, and a 400 year old mystery.
I will now have to order the other books - this is the first in the series
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Kate Ellis was born and brought up in Liverpool and she studied drama in Manchester. She worked in teaching, marketing and accountancy before first enjoying writing success as a winner of the North West Playwrights competition. Crime and mystery stories have always fascinated her, as have medieval history and archaeology which she likes to incorporate in her books. She is married with two grown up ...more
More about Kate Ellis...

Other Books in the Series

Wesley Peterson (1 - 10 of 21 books)
  • The Armada Boy (Wesley Peterson, #2)
  • An Unhallowed Grave (Wesley Peterson, #3)
  • The Funeral Boat (Wesley Peterson, #4)
  • The Bone Garden (Wesley Peterson, #5)
  • A Painted Doom (Wesley Peterson, #6)
  • The Skeleton Room (Wesley Peterson, #7)
  • The Plague Maiden (Wesley Peterson, #8)
  • A Cursed Inheritance (Wesley Peterson, #9)
  • The Marriage Hearse (Wesley Peterson, #10)
  • The Shining Skull (Wesley Peterson, #11)

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