A dark and foggy night in Eborby. Debby Telerhaye is already terrified that her mother’s partner is stalking her, but a walk home through a ruined abbey leads to the appearance of both a shadowy nun and a dead body. But when DI Joe Plantagenet arrives on the scene, the body has gone…
Soon an actress from the nearby Playhouse is reported missing. Is there a link between the ghostly nun, said to haunt the theatre, and the performance of The Devils being staged there? But as the other ghost that haunts the theatre makes an appearance as well, things become more complicated. As a case from the past comes into focus, and the bodies begin to pile up, it seems that something very dark is beginning…
Book Five in the Joe Plantagenet series from one of my “regulars”, Kate Ellis. I thought I’d have to wait awhile for my next fix of Kate’s work, as I’ve caught up with the Wesley Peterson books, but had forgotten about this other series. Luckily the nice folks at Severn House let me review a lot of their new releases and when this appeared on the schedule, I couldn’t say no.
I’ve missed two books in the series – Seeking The Dead and Playing With Bones have been reviewed a while ago, but you’ll have to wait a bit for Kissing The Demons and Watching The Ghosts – but there’s nothing lost by jumping ahead. While Kate’s leading characters’ lives do move on, nothing tends to happen that could really be described as a spoiler.
The structure shares a lot with Kate’s other work. The main characters/suspects seem to be moving in separate plot threads which cross over each other more and more until they knot together completely, making a satisfying whole. Everyone is generally hiding something, some of which are to do with the central plot and some that have a life of their own. Of course, working out which is which is part of the fun.
The spooky atmosphere is all part of the fun, although it’s not really taken as seriously as in the earlier books, where there was a feeling that there might have been something supernatural in the background, whereas here, we’re looking at a very human killer or killers – it doesn’t stop there being a very dark atmosphere to the story. Joe is a thoughtful lead, a man with secrets in his past (not sure these have been revealed yet) and the main focus of the book. In fact, that’s a difference between this and the Wesley Peterson series – there, the supporting cast get more of a look in, whereas here, they seemed to get less page-time. That’s not a problem, just an observation.
Plot-wise, it’s more of a “what makes sense of the facts” rather than a clued mystery, although the “makes sense” part is a little stretched due to a mild case of looniness. But it’s a gripping, page-turning read, nonetheless.
It’s a little pricey, due to Severn House catering primarily to libraries, so I suggest you start stuffing the suggestion box already and get your hands on a copy as soon as you can. Highly Recommended.