Death of a Cuckoo (An Esme Quentin Short Read) | Wendy Percival


Published in ebook: 6 March 2017

106 pages

Source:  My own purchased copy


A letter. A photograph. A devastating truth.

When Gina Vincent receives a letter of condolence from a stranger following her mother’s death, a photograph slipped inside reveals a disturbing truth – everything she’s ever known is based on a lie. Shocked and disorientated, she engages genealogy detective Esme Quentin to help search for answers.

The trail leads to an isolated and abandoned property on the edge of Exmoor, once the home of a strict Victorian institution called The House of Mercy and its enigmatic founder, whose influence seems to linger still in the fabric of the derelict building.

As they dig deeper, Esme realises that the house itself hides a dark and chilling secret, one which must be exposed to unravel the mystery behind Gina’s past.

But someone is intent on keeping the secret hidden. Whatever it takes.


Having read (and very much enjoyed) the previous two full length Esme Quentin stories Blood-Tied and The Indelible Stain (both reviewed here on the blog), I just had to purchase this Esme short story. However, if you are new to this series, then this could quite easily be read as a standalone.

The main character in this story is not Esme, but Gina Vincent. Following the death of her mother, Gina has received some disturbing news which makes her question everything about her life and for her own piece of mind, she engages the help of Esme in trying to find the truth.

The author has combined her own interest and knowledge of genealogy to full effect in this series; this comes across so well in the character of Esme who makes the process of searching for one’s history sound so fascinating – and also useful for those wishing to do the same. Without being bogged down by detail, but with enough information to make the story interesting, Esme guides Gina towards possible avenues for information and helps her look for a resolution.

This is not just a story of family history but there is also an intriguing tale of historic shady dealings and possibly even murder. Although it didn’t take long to work out what the initial ‘secret’ was, the way the story unfolded and the twists that followed did make for an interesting read.

With moments of danger and suspense, this novella was a very enjoyable addition to the series, my only disappointment was that it wasn’t longer; the conclusion felt a little rushed but that’s only a minor point. I believe that there is a third full length Esme book in the pipeline which I am very much looking forward to reading.

At the time of writing this post, Death of a Cuckoo can be downloaded from Amazon UK for 99p


About the author:

Wendy Percival was born in the West Midlands and grew up in rural Worcestershire. She moved to North Devon in the 1980s to start her teaching career.

An impulse buy of Writing Magazine prompted her to start writing seriously and after winning a short story competition and having another story published she turned to full length fiction.

The time-honoured ‘box of old documents in the attic’ stirred her interest in genealogy and it was while researching her Shropshire roots that she was inspired to write the first Esme Quentin mystery, Blood-Tied.

Genealogy continues to intrigue her and its mysteries provide fodder for her family history blog ( as well as ideas for further novels.


Author Links:  Website   |   Twitter   |   Facebook   |  Amazon UK   |   Goodreads



2 thoughts on “Death of a Cuckoo (An Esme Quentin Short Read) | Wendy Percival”

  • Delighted you enjoyed “Cuckoo”, Karen. Thanks so much for the lovely review!
    And yes, you’re quite right, the third Esme is on its way. It’s called The Malice of Angels and will be published in October. I’ll be posting updates and more information in the coming weeks on my website and via my newsletter, if any of your readers would like to find out more.

I do love to read any comments 😊

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