LJ's Reviews > The Armada Boy

The Armada Boy by Kate Ellis
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's review
Mar 17, 2010

really liked it
bookshelves: archaeology, contemporary_post_1945, england, female_author, fictional_city, mystery, police_procedural
Read in March, 2010

First Sentence: Norman Openheim lit a forbidden cigarette and inhaled deeply.

The Americans have come back to Devon in tribute to the time spent there preparing for the Normandy Invasion. The reunion does not go without incident when Neil, an archeologist and friend of DS Wesley Peterson, find the body of a murdered veteran at the chantry chapel ruins, the site where sailors of the Spanish Armada are said to be buried and where, in more recent times, couples went for a bit of privacy.

The only thing better than discovering a new author I like, is when they have a backlist for me to read. Kate Ellis is such an author.

It is nice that this book is set in the fictional town of Tradmouth in Devon. From the author’s website, I learned that she used Dartmouth as her guide. But it is nice to be outside a major city. Providing a stronger sense of place would have been appreciated, particularly as I am completely unfamiliar with this area. Thank heaven for the internet.

I cannot, however, fault her for character creation. Although this is billed as “A Wesley Peterson Crime Novel,” it read more as an ensemble cast, and a good one. Again, quoting the website, “Each story combines an intriguing contemporary murder mystery with a parallel historical case.” Wesley received his degree in archeology prior to joining the police force and, therefore, provides the bridge through his archeologist friend, Neil. Where he is polished and university educated, his superior, DI Heffernan, with whom I am delighted to say he gets on well.

To this pair, add a bright, ambitious police woman, a young detective who’d really like the action of London, Wesley’s archeologist friend and an unseen psychic who calls telling them to look for the Armada Boy. What I particularly appreciated was that the background all the characters is provided in bits throughout the story.

The story’s plot is so well constructed. It is intricate and filled with red herrings and twists but never feel contrived or manipulative. The clues are revealed to the reader as they are to the characters. The past is a critical element of the story as it relates to both location and motives. Ellis skillfully blended the historical information, particularly as this is a region with which I am unfamiliar, into the plot even enabling a particularly poignant thread to the story.

Ellis is an intelligent writer excellent at the blending the past and the present, her use of allegories and understanding the impact of the sins of the father. She has definitely joined my “must read” list.

THE ARMADA BOY (Pol Proc-DS Wesley Peterson-Devon, UK-Cont) – VG+
Ellis, Kate – 2nd in series
Thomas Dunn Books, ©1999, US Hardcover – ISBN: 031225198X

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