Cover image for The funeral boat : a mystery
The funeral boat : a mystery
Ellis, Kate, 1953-
Personal Author:
First US edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Thomas Dunne Books, 2002.

Physical Description:
236 pages ; 22 cm
General Note:
"First published in Great Britain by Judy Piatkus (Publishers) Ltd"--T. p. verso.
Geographic Term:
Format :


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When young Carl Palister unearths a skeleton on a Devon smallholding, DS Wesley Peterson and his boss Gerry Heffernan are called in to investigate. Heffernan is convinced that the remains are those of Carl's father, a local villain who vanished from the Tradmouth area three years before. Wesley isn't so sure - he discovers evidence that suggests the skeleton is a good thousand years older than they first thought. A keen amateur archaeologist, Wesley is intrigued by the possibility that this is a Viking corpse, buried in keeping with ancient traditions. But he has a rather more urgent crime to solve-the disappearance of a Danish tourist. At first it appears that Ingeborg Larsen may just have gone away for a few days without telling her landlady, but Wesley finds disturbing evidence that the attractive Dane has been abducted. Gerry Heffernan believes that Ms. Larsen's disappearance is linked to a spate of brutal local robberies and that Ingeborg witnessed something she shouldn't have. But is her disappearance linked to far older events? For it seems that this may not have been Ingeborg's first visit to this far from quiet West Country backwater. . .

Author Notes

Kate Ellis was brought up in Liverpool and studied drama in Manchester. She has worked in teaching, marketing and accountancy and first enjoyed literary success as a winner of the North West Playwrights competition in England. Keenly interested in medieval history and archaeology, Kate lives in North Cheshire with her husband and two young sons.

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

Ellis' fourth book featuring Detective Sergeant Wesley Peterson is cleverly plotted and competently written, providing an engaging glimpse of what life is like for the average small-town British cop. Daily life in Tradmouth, Devon, is usually relatively calm, even for a copper, but that isn't the case this summer. Identifying the skeletal remains found in a field outside town and finding the gang of thieves who are robbing isolated farms in the area are more than enough to keep Peterson and his partner, Inspector Gerry Heffernan, busy. But when a visiting Danish woman is abducted and her brother is killed, the pair really have their hands full. Fortunately, Wesley's keenly analytical mind and ability to charm confessions out of even the most reluctant perp, combined with Heffernan's experience, give the copper's all the tools they need to set matters right. The skeleton, which belongs to one of the hordes of Danes who invaded England in 997, produces the most interesting story line in pleasantly entertaining and engaging procedural. For fans of the village cozy. --Emily Melton

Publisher's Weekly Review

As in her three previous mysteries (An Unhallowed Grave, etc.) featuring Det. Sgt. Wesley Peterson and Insp. Gerry Hefferman, Ellis skillfully interweaves ancient and contemporary crimes in an impeccably composed tale. Excerpts at the head of each chapter from the chronicle of Brother Edwin, monk of Neston Minster, describe the Danish Viking raids on South Devon at the end of the first millennium and provide clues to a past injustice. In the present, after a boy discovers a skeleton on his mother's smallholding, Hefferman suspects it's that of the boy's disreputable father, who vanished three years earlier. Peterson, whose degree is in archeology, thinks it may be far older and brings in a former university colleague to see whether the remains might be those of a Viking. A series of break-ins at isolated farmhouses and the disappearance of a beautiful Danish tourist, Ingeborg Larsen, complicate matters. The author tidily brings all the solutions together, Danish Viking mixing with modern-day Devonian, while an absorbing plot smoothly blends archeology with current forensic procedures. The clear, sequential flow keeps the many characters distinct. Those familiar with South Devon will have fun recognizing Dartmouth in the author's Tradmouth, Torbay in Morbay and Totnes in Neston. Ellis hints at putting Hefferman into retirement soon, but her readers should surely object, for he's doing just fine. (July 22) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved