An engaging first novel introducing Detective Sergeant Wesley Peterson, who has just been transferred from London to Tradmouth, an ancient coastal town, has a degree in archaeology, and is black. His boss is D.I. Gerry Heffernan, an affable widower. Wesley and his teacher wife Pam have arrived at a stressful time in the village. Two-year-old Jonathon Berrisford has been missing for days and, almost as the Petersons arrive, the murdered body of a young woman is discovered by Dorothy Truscot on her daily walk to Little Tradmouth Head. A more cheerful event is Wesley’s meeting with old friend and classmate Neil Watson, working for the County’s Archaeological Unit on a nearby dig. He and his team have already unearthed two skeletons —one infant, one adult—from what was once the cellar of a 17th-century house. Meanwhile, Wesley and D.C. Rachel Tracey, searching for the identity of the murder victim, have settled on local model Karen Giordino—until she turns up very much alive after a trip abroad. There’s more success when the name of Shirley Carteret surfaces and proves to be the one they’re seeking. Why had she deserted her apartment in the house of elegant Mrs. Hughs? Where is the steady boyfriend who wears an earring? Who was paying into Shirley’s bank account every month, and what was her connection with Mowbray Clinic and its Dr. Downing? A flood of questions with intriguing answers—all made more meaningful by excerpts from a 17th-century journal heading every chapter. A lively, unfancy prose style, an absorbing story, and believable characters make for a praiseworthy debut.