The Mermaid's Scream (Wesley Peterson) by Kate Ellis

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The Mermaid's Scream (Wesley Peterson) by Kate Ellis

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Category: Crime
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Sue Magee
Reviewed by Sue Magee
Summary: It might be the 21st book in the series but this is a fresh idea with some neat twists. I didn't even come close to knowing whodunnit!
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 384 Date: August 2017
Publisher: Piatkus
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-0349413112

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In 1884 a wealthy young woman became infatuated with the man who ran a travelling puppet show. We'll follow the story of John Lipton's courtship through excerpts from his journal.

In August 2016 Zac Wilkinson was writing the biography of the reclusive novelist Wynn Staniland. It's not easy work as Staniland isn't inclined to give more away than he has to and is unwilling to discuss the one thing which the public will want to know about: his wife's suicide which seemed to follow a scene from his most famous book. Wilkinson is doing his best to drum up interest in the forthcoming book: he does talks at local libraries which are well attended and he was seemingly on his way to one of these talks when he disappeared.

His body was found a few days later by a couple of boys birdwatching in local woodland. One of the boys was Michael Peterson: D I Wesley Peterson's son, only Wesley and his wife Pam thought that Michael was somewhere else entirely. When his friend Harry removes the dead man's wallet and shares the cash with Michael, the boy's in a difficult situation. He wants to tell his father, but knows that he can't. Perhaps it was a Freudian slip to leave the money and the man's driving licence is his clothes when he put them in the wash... Peterson feels guilty that he's not there for his son, or for his wife who's recovering from breast cancer.

It's a story about identity and we learn pretty quickly that Zac Wilkinson didn't start life with that name, but was given it when he was released from prison. That someone else will find out is a constant worry and it seems that someone knows, if the note left on his car is anything to go by: I NO WHO YOU ARE. There's another problem about identity too: DCI Gerry Heffernan was approached by a young woman who told him that he was her father and that her mother had died just a few weeks before. The only problem is that the mother's name doesn't ring any bells with Gerry.

And if this wasn't all enough to contend with, there's the problem of the two bodies in the nearby caravan park who seem to have a connection with Wynn Staniland, but Staniland maintains that he knows nothing of them.

I was about a quarter of the way into the book before I'd really established in my own mind who was who and what part they were playing, but once I had that sorted out I was deep into a very satisfying mystery. Every time I thought that I'd worked out who the murderer was, everything was turned on its head, yet again. The ending was convoluted but particularly satisfying. I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to the Bookbag.

The Mermaid's Scream will read as a standalone, but you will get more out of the book if you have some knowledge of what's gone on before. You'll find a list of the books in chronological order here.

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Buy The Mermaid's Scream (Wesley Peterson) by Kate Ellis at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Mermaid's Scream (Wesley Peterson) by Kate Ellis at


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