Kate Ellis has written a great many books over the course of her career as a writer, including several standalone novels as well as anthologies of short stories.
However, the author is best known for her popular series of mystery thrillers centering around Detective Inspector Wesley Peterson.
There are 26 books in the Wesley Peterson series, and the installments are designed to be read in order, although it’s possible to read them individually as standalone stories.
If you’re interested in reading these Kate Ellis books in order, you’ll need to read them in the order in which they were published.
This will help you to get a better understanding of the inner lives of the central characters and witness their development over the course of the series.
Here’s what you need to know about reading the Wesley Peterson books by Kate Ellis in order, from an overview of the series as a whole to the chronological order of the books.
About Wesley Peterson
The Wesley Peterson books are a series of books by Kate Ellis.
They are intended to be read as a chronological series, but each one focuses on a different mystery that connects present-day crimes with past events.
Most of the books in the series feature a dual plot line so that the past and present events can unfold simultaneously.
In the first book, Wesley Peterson is a new detective sergeant in the town of Tradmouth, but his experience sees him, along with his archaeologist friend, Neil Watson, taking on increasingly more complex and chilling cases as the series goes on.
Wesley Peterson Books In Order
The Merchant’s House
The Merchant’s House introduces Wesley Peterson as the new detective sergeant in Tradmouth.
When the body of a woman is found on a cliff path at the same time as a child is reported missing, nobody expects that this could just be the beginning.
However, as skeletons are discovered in a nearby merchant’s house, it becomes clear that these crimes are connected.
- Dual storyline creates intrigue and depth
- Fast-paced and entertaining plot
- Easy to follow despite the different perspectives
- Not much backstory is provided for the protagonist
The Armada Boy
Wesley Peterson is contacted by an old friend who has discovered a veteran’s body inside a ruined chapel.
Wesley and Neil’s research leads them to investigate the death of another man, killed four hundred years ago.
It seems impossible that these crimes could be connected, but they are tied together by similar motives, and it seems the most recent death may not be the last.
- Red herrings keep the story interesting
- Fascinating dual plot line
- Imparts some interesting historical information
- Some characters are not likable and may make for a less enjoyable reading experience
An Unhallowed Grave
The third installment in the Wesley Peterson series starts with the discovery of Pauline Brent’s body, which has been hung from a graveyard tree.
When Wesley is informed by Neil, his archaeologist friend, that another body with connections to the same tree was recently excavated, a race against time to find the killer begins.
- Powerful parallels with current events
- Well fleshed-out characters
- Lots of suspects to keep the reader guessing
- Ending feels slightly abrupt
The Funeral Boat
Around the same time as a Danish tourist is abducted, Wesley Peterson becomes interested in a potential viking burial site found on a smallholding in Devon.
Peterson’s investigations lead him to believe that the two events may be related, but how far back does this connection go?
- Compelling opening scene that draws the reader in
- Satisfying and believable character development
- Easy and enjoyable to read
- The dialogue is not as fluid as the rest of the prose
The Bone Garden
The skeletal remains of a woman are excavated from under a plinth dated 300 years ago.
It seems the woman was alive when she was buried, but that’s not the most disturbing thing Wesley Peterson discovers when he ties the murder of a man at a holiday park to the finding of even more skeletons at Earlsacre Hall.
- Many subplots to make the story more interesting
- Regular plot twists heighten the suspense
- Well-researched historical aspects
- Past and present connections may feel contrived in places
A Painted Doom
When an alarming painting is uncovered in a medieval barn, Wesley’s friend Neil is fascinated by the discovery.
However, when the teenage boy who found the painting disappears just as a man is found dead on his father’s land, it becomes clear that this art piece is part of something much bigger and more dangerous than anyone imagined.
- Relatable characters that you can empathize with
- No gruesome or explicit details despite the crime theme
- Complex plot that isn’t easy to solve until the end
- Pace slows down in places
The Skeleton Room
In The Skeleton Room, some remains are discovered in a former school, now known as Chadleigh Hall.
When the body of a woman is pulled from the ocean on the coast of Devon, Wesley Peterson finds some startling parallels between the deaths.
Can the mysterious, wanted man who has recently arrived on the scene help Wesley to get to the bottom of these killings?
- Fast-paced and easy to get through quickly
- The setting is well described for great immersion
- High levels of suspense throughout
- The beginning of the book is slower-paced than the rest
The Plague Maiden
The Vicar of Belsham has been murdered, but when an anonymous letter arrives claiming that the police have got the wrong man, Wesley Peterson begins another investigation, on top of his inquiries into some threats against a local supermarket.
Then, the proposed location of Tradmouth’s new superstore is found to be the site of a medieval plague pit.
But what could be the link between the death of a Vicar, a supermarket, and the plague?
- Gripping prologue that draws the reader in immediately
- Manages to be entertaining and educational at the same time
- Well-rounded characters with strengths as well as flaws
- Some excessive repetition of certain phrases
A Cursed Inheritance
When a journalist researching the murder of a family twenty years ago is killed, Wesley Peterson begins to investigate the original killing alongside the recent death.
As he uncovers more clues, it seems more and more likely that the two are linked, but more deaths begin to pile up, and the detective is running out of time.
- Ideal pacing that is neither too fast nor too slow
- Well-placed twists and turns
- Tensions between characters add to the overall suspense
- Some readers may predict the ending around halfway through
The Marriage Hearse
Kirsten Harbourn is killed on the day of her wedding. After her death, details of secrets she kept from her fiancé come to the surface, including the fact that she had a stalker.
When it is revealed that another South Devon wedding ended in death that same day, Wesley Peterson must investigate the possible connections, ultimately leading him back in time to the Elizabethan era.
- The premise interestingly juxtaposes the themes of love and murder
- Features complex relationships that deepen the mystery
- Plot flows well and unfolds at a good pace
- Some predictable plot points
The Shining Skull
The kidnapping of a young boy in the 1970s is brought back into public memory when Leah Wakefield mysteriously disappears.
Meanwhile, Neil Watson uncovers some shocking findings in a local churchyard.
But nothing could have prepared the detective and archeologist for the return of the original kidnapping victim, and what will be brought to light as he tries to remember what happened to him.
- Very difficult to guess the ending
- Interesting themes of memory and psychology in general
- New and well-written characters are introduced
- The plot involves a lot of characters and twists, which can get confusing
The Blood Pit
The body of a man is found with two incisions in his neck. There is no blood left in his body.
As if that wasn’t strange enough, two more bodies are soon discovered with identical wounds.
At the same time, Neil Watson receives anonymous letters concerning shocking events at an old abbey.
The details of the crimes match up, and Wesley and Neil must now unmask the person responsible.
- Historical and present plots mirror one another particularly well
- The plot is interspersed with red herrings to maintain intrigue
- Interesting twist at the end
- More graphic than most other books in the series, which may be off-putting for some
A Perfect Death
The horrifying burning of a woman in a field has suspicious links to a similar death dating back to the 1200s.
When Wesley Peterson obtains the archeological documents related to the case, he finds out that a lot of information is missing, and two of the archaeologists met tragic ends during the excavation.
Can Peterson piece together the missing information and discover the identity of the killer?
- Complex web of characters and deaths
- Sharp plot twists at unexpected moments
- Very effective shifts in perspective
- Not as fast-paced as some other installments
A Flesh Tailor
A doctor is shot to death in his home, leading Wesley Peterson to dig into his personal life and uncover some unexpected secrets.
When Neil Watson finds some remains that he suspects were the work of a sixteenth-century body-snatching physician, as well as the skeleton of a child, the detective, and archeologist must put their findings together to find the common link.
- Dramatic and eerie opening sets the tone for the plot
- Fast-paced read from the beginning
- Profound message about the impacts of war
- Long list of characters can cause some confusion
The Jackal Man
When a teenage girl is found almost dead in a secluded lane, her recollections of what happened don’t seem to make sense.
While her description of her assailant as having a dog’s head seems far-fetched, Wesley Peterson and Neil Watson suspect a ritualistic murder attempt based on Egyptian mythology.
But can this jackal man be stopped before he tries again?
- Lots of secrets are revealed leading up to the climax
- Complex plot makes the mystery more compelling
- Interesting look into the personal and professional lives of the main characters
- Some graphic moments that may be unpleasant for some readers
The Cadaver Game
A woman’s body is found in a suburban house after the police receive an anonymous tip.
As Wesley Peterson struggles to identify the woman, the bodies of two teenagers are discovered near a cliff.
When it comes to light that all of these deaths may be related to an online game known as Blood Hunt, Wesley realizes he must find the person responsible before the next inevitable killing.
- Shocking and sinister plot keeps readers engaged
- Well-paced and makes for enjoyable reading
- Convincing ending with believable antagonist
- The victims are teenagers, which may be distressing for readers
The Shadow Collector
It has been eighteen years since a mother and daughter, suspected of witchcraft, were imprisoned for murdering two teenagers.
Now that the daughter, Lilith, has been released, another woman’s body is found close by.
Meanwhile, Neil Watson’s archeological work leads him to a wax doll belonging to a woman executed as a witch, centuries prior.
- Supernatural themes make the mystery more intriguing
- Lots of new characters keep interactions and relationships interesting
- Some important commentary on the workings of the justice system
- Fairly slow-paced compared to other installments
The Shroud Maker
Jenny Bercival went missing under mysterious circumstances over a year ago.
Now, a body has been found at sea, and Wesley Peterson must determine whether it is Jenny’s, or the result of another tragedy.
The timing of the discovery during the controversial Palkin Festival, which celebrates a Tradmouth Mayor known for engaging in piracy, leads Wesley to believe that the murder may have historical motivations.
- Interesting developments in characters’ personal lives
- Good use of historical manuscripts for clues
- Fancy dress festival setting complicates the mystery
- Pacing towards the end feels slightly rushed
The Death Season
Wesley Peterson is faced with what looks like a simple case, but as the victim’s secret past comes to light, the detective realizes there’s more to this murder than meets the eye.
His suspicions are confirmed when Watson’s archeological research fills in some key information.
- Mystery of victim’s identity creates suspense from the beginning
- Effectively interspersed with historical diary extracts
- Plenty of red herrings to keep you on your toes
- Lots of time and perspective shifts, which can be disorienting
The House Of Eyes
When an aspiring model is reported missing, Wesley Peterson dismisses it as normal behavior for Leanne Hatman.
However, when her father is found dead in the grounds of the castle where Leanne works, it’s clear that something is very wrong, especially since something similar happened in Tradmouth decades previously.
- Frequent misdirection keeps the mystery alive
- Lots of potential suspects make for a complex plot
- Various perspectives help piece together the clues
- Some loose ends that can feel unsatisfying
The Mermaid’s Scream
Author Wynn Stainland hasn’t written anything since his wife died by suicide.
When fellow writer Zac Wilkinson sets out to write Stainland’s biography, it seems more details may be revealed, but more confusion and alarm ensues when Zac is found dead.
Wesley Peterson’s investigation leads him to another murder at a nearby caravan park, uncovering decades of secrets that link the crimes to a horrifying conclusion.
- Weaves together numerous subplots neatly
- The different perspectives keep the story feeling fresh
- The isolated rural setting contributes to the suspense
- Slow-paced at the start
The Mechanical Devil
A mechanical figure is unearthed in a field in Dartmoor. Around the same time, two people are shot in a field where a student died accidentally many years ago.
Wesley Peterson’s focus on the case is distracted when a local politician’s daughter disappears, but it soon becomes evident that he can’t solve one murder without the others.
- Fast-paced from the first page
- Developments in protagonists’ personal lives
- Relatable characters that you feel for throughout the story
- The number of subplots is a little overwhelming
Dead Man’s Lane
A farm with a terrifying history is being renovated as a holiday village when a skull is unearthed on the premises.
Not only after, a florist is found dead, with the autopsy revealing connections to the crimes associated with Strangefields Farm.
Wesley Peterson and Neil Watson work together to find out exactly what happened at Strangefields’ and why the past has come back to haunt Tradmouth.
- Eerie settings for suspenseful reading
- Explores some of the darkest aspects of human emotion
- Satisfying and unexpected ending
- Some references may be missed without the context of previous books
The Burial Circle
A storm brings down a tree on a farm, leading to the discovery of human remains. Wesley Peterson connects these findings to an old missing person’s case.
Now, the case must be reopened, but it seems that foul play may have been involved.
When another death occurs at a local guesthouse, Neil Watson’s archeological research points to a startling connection.
- Deeply atmospheric and unsettling
- Many interesting suspects to consider
- Small but important clues throughout make for fun guesswork
- Requires the reader to suspend disbelief occasionally
The Stone Chamber
When a couple is killed in their own country home, Wesley Peterson identifies the husband’s past as a police officer as the potential motive.
However, it then comes to light that the victim had received tickets for an asylum tour from an anonymous sender, and that other people who attended this tour have also met untimely ends.
What’s more, it seems that the asylum has a disturbing historical past.
- Multiple threads cleverly woven together
- Educates the reader about 1950s mental health treatment
- Moving and impactful use of diary entries
- Non-linear plot can feel strange to those used to linear mysteries
Serpent’s Point sees Wesley Peterson investigate the strangling of a woman on a coastal path associated with myths and legends.
Finding out that the victim had been investigating disappearances in the area, Peterson begins to suspect that she got too close to the truth.
Now, he must do the same in order to catch the killer.
- Plenty of interesting backstory
- The plot is complex, but not convoluted
- Works very well as a standalone novel
- Less of a thriller than previous installments, which may disappoint longtime readers
If you want to read the Wesley Peterson books by Kate Ellis in order, you should start with The Merchant’s House and read in order of publication until you get to Serpent’s Point.
If you’re planning on reading the Wesley Peterson series of Kate Ellis books in order, you can easily do so by reading the books in order of publication.
This is the order in which the author intended for them to be read, although if you’ve already picked up one of the later books in the series, you should still be able to read it as a standalone without feeling confused.
The first book in the Wesley Peterson series is The Merchant’s House.
This book does a lot of scene-setting and provides some important background information into the main characters.
Again, you don’t have to read this book first, but it is recommended if you want to get a sense of how the characters develop over time.
I recommend reading this series of Kate Ellis books in order if you can because you’ll get more depth out of the overall reading experience.
You’ll also be able to pick up on some references to other books.
The Wesley Peterson books by Kate Ellis are fantastic examples of the mystery thriller genre and provide some nuggets of historical education alongside an interesting storyline.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do You Have to Read the Wesley Peterson Books by Kate Ellis in Order?
The books in the Wesley Peterson series don’t have to be read in order, since each one can work as a standalone.
However, if you don’t read them in order, you may miss some references and character development, so you might prefer to start with the first book.
Is The Wesley Peterson Series Suitable For Children?
There is minimal gore and graphic detail in the Wesley Peterson series, but there are still some occasional graphic moments and upsetting themes.
Therefore, the Wesley Peterson series is best suited to older teenagers and adults.
Which Is The Best Wesley Peterson Book?
The Wesley Peterson novel with the most positive reviews according to Goodreads is the most recent installment, Serpent’s Point.
It is closely followed by The Stone Chamber, which is book 25, and The Death Season, which is book 19.
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