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Wednesday, 19 December 2018

‘The Boy Who Lived with The Dead’ by Kate Ellis

Published by Piatkus,
6 December 2018.
ISBN: 978-0-349-41833-9 (HB)

It is 1920 and Peter Rudyard lives in the Cemetery Lodge in Mabley Ridge a small village in Cheshire, where his father is the grave digger. Peter is known for making up stories and his family never believe a word he says. So, when he finds a woman's body partially buried on top of a newly dug grave, he tells his teacher Gwen Davies instead of his mother or father. She alerts the police and then a Detective Inspector Albert Lincoln is summonsed up from Scotland Yard. He has mixed feelings about leaving London and going to Cheshire. His marriage is on the rocks, so he feels it will be good to get away for a while. However, he was called to the same area in 1914 when Peter's twin brother Jimmy had been murdered. Albert never solved the case and it has played on his mind ever since. Mabley Ridge brings back bad memories.

When Albert arrives, he learns the dead woman was a Patience Bailey, companion to a Mrs. Jane Ghent, whose wealthy husband owns a mill. Jane especially is still grieving after their son Monty was killed in the war. Albert is really puzzled on visiting the Ghents when told Patience always had her baby with her but there was no sign of him anywhere near her body, what could have happened to him?

Albert goes with Gwen to talk to Peter, he tells them he saw the “Shadow Man” in the cemetery the night Patience was killed. Apparently, Peter has been telling stories of how he has seen the same man who has no face. He keeps appearing up on The Ridge, a place locals are sure is haunted by the ghosts of people who have thrown themselves over the edge and everyone avoids the area. When more bodies are found Albert struggles to find a connection between them all.

Adding to the mystery, the Ghents' cook tells him she is sure her mistress is being slowly poisoned, but who by? Plus, what is Mr Ghent hiding in his “secret room” and what is their daughter's boyfriend Sydney up to? The more Albert delves into people's pasts the more he is convinced the deaths have something to do with the war. Everyone has a secret to hide, some rather unsavoury.

Throughout the book runs a sub-plot of how when Albert was in Cheshire trying to solve Jimmy's murder, he had an affair which ended disastrously, and he struggles to put the past behind him. Can he solve the case without the thoughts of the past interfering with his judgment?

Another brilliant book from Kate Ellis, full of twists and turns and red herrings. The descriptions of the happenings up on The Ridge and in the cemetery are delightfully creepy. There can't be many places worse to live than in a Cemetery Lodge!  Highly recommended.
Reviewer:  Tricia Chappell

Kate Ellis was born in Liverpool and she studied drama in Manchester. She worked in teaching, marketing and accountancy before first enjoying writing success as a winner of the North-West Playwrights competition. Crime and mystery stories have always fascinated her, as have medieval history and archaeology which she likes to incorporate in her books. She is married with two grown up sons and she lives in North Cheshire, England, with her husband.
Kate's novels feature archaeology graduate Detective Sergeant Wesley Peterson who fights crime in South Devon.  Each story combines an intriguing contemporary murder mystery with a parallel historical case. She has also written five books in the spooky Joe Plantagenet series set up in North Yorkshire as well as many short stories for crime fiction anthologies and magazines. Kate was elected a member of The Detection Club in 2014. She is a member of the Crime Writers Association and Murder Squad, and Mystery People. Her most recent series is set post WW1.  To read a review of this latest book click here. A High Mortality of Doves.

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Tricia Chappell. I have a great love of books and reading, especially crime and thrillers. I play the occasional game of golf (when I am not reading). My great love is cruising especially to far flung places, when there are long days at sea for plenty more reading! I am really enjoying reviewing books and have found lots of great new authors.

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