Apr 18, 2015

Welsh Week: Headhunters by Claire Peate

 Winchester's not the most happening of cathedral cities, but journalist Kate might find something juicy to dig up on the newly appointed Dean, Archie Cartwright. He's not so much socks and sandals as Converse All-Stars and Italian sports cars. A thief has just lifted the head of Canute out from under Archie's nose, his eye being caught by a rather tempting lady cleric.

Up in London, Edgar Thompson is having a hard time keeping a lid on the biggest archaeological find in British history - currently being exposed beneath Kings Cross' busiest platforms. Especially when the most important artefact of all - another famous ancient's skull - disappears overnight.

Where are the heads going? Will Kate, Archie and Edgar manage to find them before their own careers do a similar disappearing act? Not if Archie's Bishop, Kate's conniving colleagues and over anxious father have anything to do with it...

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Review by Tanya

This book has such an unusual and interesting story that it captures your imagination. I was intrigued by the title and hadn’t read any of the blurb when I was asked to review this for Welsh Week. Claire must have spent ages researching for this book as the details are in depth and extremely interesting.  Yes there is a boy meets girl aspect to this but even then that is not what you truly expect and in fact is just a by-line to the story. It takes place in two places, Winchester and London, and these two places come to meet through the story in an intriguing climax.
The Dean of Winchester, Archie Cartwright, is not your average Dean and he tends to treat the church as a business where numbers need to be increased through interesting and different ways. He likes the lime light and enjoys being in the papers for his approach.  He is also very keen on the women and views them in a way that you do not expect from a man of the church. At first I was shocked to discover that I did not like his character very much but as time goes on I began to like his sense of humour and how he behaves.
Kate is a journalist on the local paper the Winchester Echo covering the stories of local life but she aspires for greater things and the bigger stories. She knows that there is a more to tell when Winchester Cathedral gets broken into during the night and the Dean is knocked over by a seemingly petit ginger haired woman who leaves empty handed even though there are many valuable items stored in the Cathedral. Kate is a bit of a frump and dresses in baggy dark clothes and doesn’t pay much attention to her appearance, she is also in a relationship and living with someone who doesn’t even notice her. She recognises that she needs a change if she is going to get where she wants in life so she alters the way she dresses and her appearance. She also starts to look at alternative accommodations. 
In London we meet Edgar Thompson. He wants to work in textile after finishing his degree, but his dad has other ideas. His father is a famous retired archaeologist who always hears lots of information through the grapevine, and he can still hold his demanding presence over Edgar from afar. He gets Edgar a job in the press office of the Museum of London and threatens that he will have no home or money if he does not take it. Edgar’s dad has an overpowering presence in life and hence he sees himself as someone who deserves to be in the background. He lacks lots of confidence. His new unwanted job starts at the most pressuring of times with an undisclosed exciting discovery under Kings Cross station. There is a buzz in the atmosphere and all the press are eager to have details but he cannot give them any more information than the press release he is given from above. What is project rebel? Why is there so much secrecy? Edgar uses his brain to go to the site and get into the dig. Luckily an ex colleague of his father Hilary De Lacey is there and she shows him the most exciting discovery to be made in YEARS.
These characters meet through chance and it helps them to find answers to their mystery however will they be able to come to a satisfactory conclusion?
I enjoyed reading Headhunters, because of the interesting story I liked how the characters changed through the book. I will now look out for more books by this Welsh author.  

Author information

Novelist Claire Peate was born in Derby in 1974. She studied English Language & Linguistics at Sheffield University before spending ten years in the market research industry in London. Since moving to Wales Claire now works as a freelance writer and researcher. She lives in Cardiff with her Cornish husband David and their two children. 

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