A Game You Don’t Want To Play

“When the decaying body of a murdered woman is discovered in a suburban house, 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.

Both cases became stranger when Wesley realises they are linked to a sinister manhunt, mirroring events from the time of the Napoleonic Wars. Why did the teenage victims take part in an online game called Blood Hunt, which they were eventually persuaded to play for real?

Then a skeleton is found near the place where the teenagers were last seen alive and Wesley finally has to face a terrible truth… and a hunt to the death”

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“The Cadaver Game” is the sixteenth murder mystery novel in the Wesley Peterson series by Devon-based author Kate Ellis.

I must confess that I was not previously familiar with either the series or the author before picking this book off the shelf at the local library.

There are essentially two stories running in parallel in this book. The main mystery set in present day Devon, centring on the fictional town of Tradmouth and an estate containing the grand Catton Hall. It is within the grounds of the Hall that the teenagers take part in the blood hunt and meet their deaths.

In addition, there is a side story involving murder from the early 1800s told through extracts from the journals of a Jester and a Steward who served the Squire at Catton Hall and involving an ancestor of the current owner.

Throughout the book we meet a number of characters who may be guilty or one or more crimes, and there are a lot of secrets to be uncovered by the investigating police team, of which DI Wesley Peterson is the focal point from the reader’s perspective. There are, naturally, plenty of red herrings to stop us from working out the truth too soon!

I found this to be an interesting and engaging story. The addition of the 19th century material could have been a distraction, but actually added to the overall experience, and would seem to be a regular feature of Ellis’ work.

Kate Ellis
Kate Ellis

The only thing I personally found a little confusing early on was in remembering who the boss was within the police force, as Peterson’s boss, DCI Gerry Heffernan seems to take the back seat perhaps too readily – but maybe that just goes with the territory when using a DI as the main police character, or because I haven’t read the previous fifteen novels!

I was struck by a passage late on in the book, where Peterson is thinking about the case:

“It raised uncomfortable questions in his mind. Are we all capable of evil given the right triggers? How can we ever know that what is going on in somebody’s else’s head isn’t some perverted version of reality? How can some people wear such an innocent, amiable mask to hide a stinking corruption within?”

There is certainly some food for thought in those words…

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