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    St. Martin's Minotaur, May 2001

    A woman is found hanging from an ancient tree--known as the hanging tree and the medical examination points to murder. Detective Sergeant Wesley Peterson investigates and finds strange parallels to a death that took place centuries before, with another woman hanging from the same tree. Together with his boss, sex obsessed Steve Carstairs, and competent Rachel, Wesley must find who would want to kill a woman who virtually blended into the landscape. When motive finally emerges, the mystery shifts from too few to too many suspects. Certainly Stokeworthy has more than its share of questionable characters.

    Even better than her fine ARMADA BOY (see our review), AN UNHALLOWED GRAVE does an excellent job weaving a historical backstory, archeological excavations, religious history, and ancient crime into modern investigations. Kate Ellis delivers a host of fully realized characters--especially new father Wesley, widowered Heffernan, and the ambitious but loyal Rachel. Ellis's depiction of small-town England also feels true and realistic showing both the bucolic and the ugly side by side.

    Kate Ellis (see more reviews of novels by Ellis) writes with an approachable style. She uses enough dialect to render the characters individuality without reducing readability. Better yet, she never seems to be writing down to her readers. AN UNHALLOWED GRAVE is a winner, best (so far) of an excellent series.

    Four Stars

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