The Jackal Man by Kate Ellis

A teenage girl is attacked and left for dead on a country road, but can only describe her attacker as having the head of a dog. When the next victim is found dead, wrapped in a linen sheet with some of her organs removed, DI Wesley Peterson suspects a link to Egyptology and the jackal headed god of death, Anubis. But why on earth would someone be dressing up as an Egyptian god to kill people? And what is the link to the four murders that happened 100 years previously with exactly the same methodology?

I reviewed another of Kate Ellis’s books recently, An Unhallowed Grave, as I knew she would be signing this, her latest book, at my local independent bookshop. I enjoyed that book, but I did find the link to the case in the past (a seeming recurring theme in the Wesley Peterson series) a little difficult to follow, given as they were in notes from court hearings from over 200 years ago. In this case, however, the past murders are more recent and as such have a much more direct bearing on the present murders. The past story is presented as a journal, and, although after a while it becomes pretty clear what direction it is going in, it is never less than engrossing.

The present case is even better. The murders may or may not be random, as links begin to appear between the victims. There is a decent cast of possible suspects and Kate Ellis uses some excellent misdirection to keep you looking in the wrong direction. I’ll hold my hand up here and say that I was completely fooled into thinking she was playing one of the more clichéd of tricks but instead she used it as a deliberate red herring.

It’s rare that a police procedural (which, despite the archaeological trappings, this is) is also a proper whodunit, and to be fair, actual clues are thin on the ground, but this book kept me guessing (wrongly). It’s rare to say that I couldn’t put a book down, but this was the case with The Jackal Man.

Probably the best new mystery novel that I’ve read in a very long time – I usually look for something different from the procedural style, but for Kate Ellis’s books, I’ll make an exception. I’ll certainly be keeping my eye out for others in the series.

Highly recommended.

WHERE CAN I GET IT?

All good bookshops. It’s out now!

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