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The Shadow Collector
A Wesley Peterson Murder Mystery - Book XVII
Kate Ellis

Piatkus (Little, Brown)
28 February 2013 / ISBN-13: 9780749958022
Mystery / Contemporary / Devon, England
Amazon US - UK

Reviewed by Rachel A Hyde

Back in 1994 two women living in an isolated farm were tried and convicted for the murder of two teenage girls. Dorothy and her daughter Lilith Benley were self-confessed witches who had fed the girls' bodies to their pigs. Eighteen years later Lilith is out of gaol and back living at Devil's Tree Cottage, but it seems as though she is back in business for soon the body of a young woman is found nearby. Wesley's boss Gerry worked on the earlier case and is convinced of the woman's guilt, but there are plenty of other suspects, especially after Wesley's archaeologist friend Neil has an accident after uncovering a strange doll while excavating the cellar of a house where a 17th century witch once lived.

I can't get enough of these and look forward to the latest in the series every year. Why are they so special? Ms Ellis cooks up the perfect recipe for a mystery novel with just the right balance of convoluted plot, a frisson of eeriness, some lurid history, tangled relationships and a spot-on portrait of a part of Britain not often covered in fiction. I live in the county and applaud the author's insightful depiction of modern Devon that provides a good backdrop to the events with its mixture of scenery, history, tourism and economic struggles. Everything dovetails tidily together in these novels, sometimes a little too much so as all events seem to point towards the case, however unlikely, but even this serves to make the story that much more complex and intriguing. By now the series characters seem like old friends and as with other long-running series it is always good to look in on them and see what they are up to. I hope Ms Ellis continues to write these books for a very long time.

An Hallowed Grave #3
The Bone Garden #5
A Perfect Death #13
The Flesh Tailor #14
The Shadow Collector #17
The Shroud Maker #18
House of Eyes #20
The Mechanical Devil #22

Reviewed 2013