From the author of the Joe Plantagenet series.
What is the Wesley Peterson series about?
Written by British author Kate Ellis, the Wesley Peterson series is a crime series that started more than two decades ago.
The story revolves around the work of DS Wesley Peterson who, at the start of the series, just arrived in the West Country town of Tradmouth. There, he leads murder investigations that are often mixed with history and archaeology in the “mean lanes” of South Devon.
How to read the Wesley Peterson Books in Order?
Every book in the Wesley Peterson series works as a standalone story, but the lives of the different characters evolve from one novel to the other.
- The Merchant’s House – DS Wesley Peterson, newly arrived in the West Country town of Tradmouth, has his hands full when a child goes missing and a young woman is brutally murdered on a lonely cliff path. Then his old friend, archaeologist Neil Watson, unearths the skeletons of a woman and a newborn baby in the cellar of an ancient merchant’s house nearby.
- The Armada Boy – When archaeologist Neil Watson finds the body of an American veteran of the D-Day landings in the ruins of an old chapel, he turns to his old friend DS Wesley Peterson for help.
- An Unhallowed Grave – When the body of Pauline Brent is found hanging from a yew tree in a local graveyard, DS Wesley Peterson immediately suspects foul play. Then history provides him with a clue. Wesley’s archaeologist friend, Neil Watson, has excavated a corpse at his nearby dig – a young woman who, local legend has it, had been publicly hanged from the very same tree before being buried on the unhallowed ground five centuries ago.
- The Funeral Boat – When a skeleton is discovered on a Devon smallholding, DS Wesley Peterson, a keen amateur archaeologist, is intrigued by the possibility that it is a Viking corpse buried in keeping with ancient traditions. But he has a rather more urgent crime to solve when a Danish tourist is reported missing.
- The Bone Garden – An excavation at the lost gardens of Earlsacre Hall is halted when a skeleton is discovered beneath a 300-year-old stone plinth – the remains of a woman who was buried alive. But even when more skeletons are found in the walled garden, DS Wesley Peterson has more pressing matters on his hands. A man has been stabbed to death at a holiday park and the only clue to his identity is a newspaper cutting about the restoration of Earlsacre Hall gardens.
- A Painted Doom – Teenager Lewis Hoxworthy discovers a disturbing painting in a medieval barn; a find which excites archaeologist Neil Watson, who is excavating an ancient manor house nearby. But when a man is found shot through the head in Lewis’s father’s field and Lewis himself goes missing, it is Neil’s friend, Detective Inspector Wesley Peterson, who faces one of his most intriguing cases yet.
- The Skeleton Room – When workmen converting former girls’ boarding school, Chadleigh Hall, into a luxury hotel discover a skeleton in a sealed room, DI Wesley Peterson and his boss, Gerry Heffernan are called in to investigate. But within minutes they have a second suspicious death on their hands: a team of marine archaeologists working on a nearby shipwreck has dragged a woman’s body from the sea. And it becomes clear that her death was no accident.
- The Plague Maiden – When a letter arrives at Tradmouth police station, addressed to a DCI Norbert it causes quite a stir. For though DCI Norbert has long since moved on, the letter claims to have evidence that the man convicted of murdering the Rev. Shipbourne, Vicar of Belsham, during the course of a robbery in 1991, is innocent. DI Wesley Peterson is forced to at least follow up on the letter writer’s claims.
- A Cursed Inheritance – The brutal massacre of the Harford family at Potwoolstan Hall in Devon in 1985 shocked the country and passed into local folklore. And when a journalist researching the case is murdered twenty years later, the horror is reawakened.
- The Marriage Hearse – When Kirsten Harbourn is found strangled and naked on her wedding day, DI Wesley Peterson makes some alarming discoveries. Kirsten was being pursued by an obsessed stalker and she had dark secrets her doting fiance, Peter, knew nothing about. But Kirsten’s wasn’t the only wedding planned to take place that July day in South Devon.
- The Shining Skull – Little Marcus Fallbrook was kidnapped in 1976 and when he never returned home, his grieving family assumed the worst. Then, thirty years later, teenage singing star Leah Wakefield disappears and DI Wesley Peterson has reason to suspect that the same kidnapper is responsible. And another abductor is at work in the area.
- The Blood Pit – Never has DI Wesley Peterson witnessed such a bizarre crime scene. The victim, Charles Marrick, has been murdered, his body drained of blood. Described by those who knew him as ‘evil’, it seems that Wesley isn’t going to have any shortage of suspects – until a popular local vet is murdered in an identical fashion…and a third body is discovered many miles away.
- A Perfect Death – When a woman is burned to death in Grandal Field in Devon, it seems like a case of mistaken identity. Until DI Wesley Peterson learns of a legend involving a French woman who burned to death there in the thirteenth century. And when he discovers that records of a previous excavation on the site have vanished and that two archaeologists involved in that dig died in tragic circumstances, Wesley starts to investigate the possibility of a link between the legend and recent events.
- The Flesh Tailor – When Dr. James Dalcott is shot dead in his cottage it looks very much like an execution. And as DI Wesley Peterson begins piecing together the victim’s life, he finds that the well-liked country doctor has been harboring strange and dramatic family secrets.
- The Jackal Man – When a teenage girl is strangled and left for dead on a lonely country lane, by an attacker she describes as having the head of a dog, the police are baffled. But when the body of another young woman is found mutilated and wrapped in a white linen sheet, DI Wesley Peterson suspects that the killer is performing an ancient ritual linked to Anubis, the jackal-headed Egyptian god of death and mummification.
- The Cadaver Game – When the decaying body of a murdered woman is discovered in a suburban house following an anonymous tip-off, DI Wesley Peterson has problems establishing her identity. But as he digs deeper, he has another more disturbing case to investigate – the naked bodies of two teenagers have been found with shotgun wounds at the foot of a cliff.
- The Shadow Collector – Lilith Benley and her mother, rumored to be witches, were convicted of the brutal murder of two teenage girls. Eighteen years later Lilith is released from prison, and shortly after she returns to her old home, a young woman is found dead at a neighboring farm where a celebrity reality TV show is being filmed. When DI Wesley Peterson is called in to investigate he has to deal with fragile egos and hidden truths, as well as the possibility that Lilith Benley has killed again.
- The Shroud Maker – A year on from the mysterious disappearance of Jenny Bercival, DI Wesley Peterson is called in when the body of a strangled woman is found floating out to sea in a dinghy. The discovery mars the festivities of the Palkin Festival, held each year to celebrate the life of John Palkin, a fourteenth-century Mayor of Tradmouth who made his fortune from trade and piracy. And now it seems like death and mystery have returned to haunt the town.
- The Death Season – When DI Wesley Peterson is summoned to investigate a killing, he assumes that the case is a routine matter. But soon dark secrets and deadly deceptions start to emerge from the victim’s past, and Wesley begins to realize that a simple incident of cold-blooded murder is altogether more calculated and complicated than he could ever imagine.
- The House of Eyes – When Darren Hatman reports his daughter missing, DI Wesley Peterson isn’t too concerned. Leanne Hatman is an aspiring model, keen to abandon her native Devon for the bright lights of London. However, Darren’s claim that a photographer has been stalking Leanne soon changes Wesley’s opinion.
- The Mermaid’s Scream – Why did Wynn Staniland, a legend in the literary world, suddenly become a recluse in the 1980s? Most assumed he stopped writing because of his wife’s bizarre suicide; a death that mirrored a murder case from the nineteenth century. And now a promising young author called Zac Wilkinson is working on Staniland’s biography and hopes to reveal the true story to a waiting world – while at the same time keeping his own troubled past hidden from public view.
- The Mechanical Devil – When archaeologist Neil Watson unearths a long-buried mechanical figure in a Dartmoor field, he is determined to discover the truth behind the bizarre find. Soon, however, the sleepy village becomes the focus of press attention for another reason when two people with no apparent connection to each other are found shot dead in nearby Manor Field, seemingly victims of an execution-style double murder.
- Dead Man’s Lane – Strangefields Farm is notorious for its sinister history ever since artist Jackson Temples lured young women there to model for disturbing works of art. Now, decades later, Strangefields is to be transformed into a holiday village, but the developer’s hopes of its dark history being forgotten are dashed when a skull is found on the site. And when a local florist is found murdered in an echo of Temples’ crimes, DI Wesley Peterson fears that a copycat killer is at large.
- The Burial Circle – On a stormy night in December, a tree is blown down on an isolated Devon farm. When the fallen tree is dragged away, a rucksack is found caught amongst the roots – and next to it is a human skeleton. The discovery of the body and the rucksack revives memories for DI Wesley Peterson. A young hitchhiker who went missing twelve years ago was last seen carrying a similar backpack. Suddenly a half-forgotten cold case has turned into a murder investigation.
- The Stone Chamber – On a summer evening, Robert and Greta Gerdner are shot dead at their home in the Devon countryside. DI Wesley Peterson suspects the execution-style murders might be linked to Robert’s past police career – until Robert’s name is found on a list of people who’ve been sent tickets anonymously for a tour of Darkhole Grange, a former asylum on Dartmoor. Wesley discovers that other names on the list have also died in mysterious circumstances and, as he is drawn into the chilling history of the asylum, he becomes convinced that it holds the key to the case.
- Serpent’s Point – Serpent’s Point in South Devon is the focus of local legends. The large house on the headland is shrouded in an ancient tale of evil, and when a woman is found strangled on the coastal path DI Wesley Peterson is called in to investigate. The woman had been house-sitting at Serpent’s Point and Wesley is surprised to discover that she was conducting an investigation into unsolved missing person cases. Could these enquires have led to her murder?
- The Killing Place – November. With the tourist season well and truly over in South Devon, Detective Inspector Wesley Peterson is looking forward to a quieter month in the CID. But when a man is shot dead on Bonfire Night, he finds he has a disturbing murder case on his hands. The body of Patrick North was found in woodland connected to Nesbaraton Hall, a grand estate dating back to the eighteenth century. North worked for the Smithson family who now own the estate. The family are away on holiday, however, when an anonymous letter threatening to abduct the Smithson son is uncovered, Wesley fears North’s death might have been collateral damage in a kidnap plot.