The Skeleton Room by Kate Ellis

The Skeleton RoomWhen two workers are busy converting Chadleigh Hall, a old girls’ school, into a luxury hotel, they break into a sealed room, only to reveal a skeleton. DI Wesley Peterson and his team investigate, their interest heightened when they discover that a girl mysteriously disappeared from the school a few decades previously.

Meanwhile Wesley’s archaeologist friend Neil Watson, while treasure hunting in a sunken vessel off the coast, has discovered a fresh body floating in the water. When it transpires that foul play was involved, the team has their hands full. When an ex-colleague turns up from the Met chasing a suspected murderer, things go from bad to worse. As the crimes seem to intertwine and the suspects increase, it seems that the problems seem insolvable. And that’s before some more bodies appear… a lot more bodies…

The seventh of the Wesley Peterson novels, combining a modern day police procedural with a local history backdrop. I’ve been constantly trumpeting Kate Ellis’s work since meeting her at my local bookshop and rapidly becoming a massive fan of the Wesley Peterson series. The marriage of past mystery and modern day whodunnit has produced some outstanding novels. So how does this one match up?

Very well indeed – in fact, I’d go as far as saying it’s one of the best in the series so far. The lives of the suspects are heavily intertwined, and Ellis does a remarkable job of making you look the wrong way so often that it makes your head spin. Each character seems to be involved in the plot in at least two different ways and by the end, she still manages to spring at least one surprise.

As a bonus here, the story from the past – of a local village and their part in wrecking ships – adds to the narrative in the present but is not, as in previous books, a direct parallel to the main plot. Which, of course, gives an extra mystery to sort out.

The central cast are as charming as ever, although, as I may have mentioned before, some development might be needed soon. DS Tracy’s crush on Wes, for example, or DC Carstairs general arsieness, could do with a little movement but that doesn’t detract from a well constructed, puzzling and highly enjoyable mystery novel. Once again, highly recommended.


  1. Your reviews of this series keep reminding me that I should go back and try the series again. I only read the first one. I have The Bone Garden but not the three before that one.


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