The Shining Skull by Kate Ellis

Shining SkullIn 1976, Marcus Falbrook was kidnapped from his family. Ransom notes were sent were Marcus was never seen again. Until the day he returns to his family with little memory of what happened to him. At the same time, Leah Wakefield, a local teen pop sensation is kidnapped. It seems to be simply a bizarre coincidence until the ransom notes for Leah arrive – written on the same paper and in the same style as the notes for Marcus. Has the same kidnapper returned after more than forty years?

In the meantime, DI Wesley Peterson and his team are busy hunting for the Barber – a dangerous man who impersonates taxi drivers in order to attack women and cut off their hair. Meanwhile, Wesley’s archaeologist friend Neil Watson finds a coffin in a churchyard with two bodies in it. His investigations lead to a local religious cult from the Georgian era. As the various investigations continue, things start to dovetail together – but how does a Georgian cult possibly link to a pop star kidnapping?

Eleven books in and Kate Ellis has produced a series of complex mysteries, intertwining mysteries of the past with crimes of the present, and the books get better and better as the series progresses. And, as I really enjoyed the first book, that kind of hints at what I’m going to say about this one.

It’s a truly outstanding read. A jigsaw puzzle of a mystery where, each time you feel that you’re grasping a piece of the truth, Kate twists it into something else until the reality of the various events is revealed. And is often the case with Kate’s books, there’s an emotional punch at the end of the tale, making the truth even more shocking than you could have expected.

The truth is clued – well, probably more hinted at than actually clued – there’s one reference in particular which can direct the reader to what is actually going on. Of course, with my stunning sleuthing ability, I spotted it and then completely failed to work out what was happening.

It looks like the Puzzly is going to be pretty hard to pick this month – that’s three outstanding books in a row. Which obviously means that this is very Highly Recommended. Possibly the best in the series so far.


  1. I have started this book. The second kidnapping takes place after 30 years, not after more than 40 years as mentioned by you.


  2. I have finished the book.
    I found the strand regarding the archaeological findings and the related flashbacks so dull that I skipped it completely after a few pages.
    Otherwise, the mystery is very good. Suspenseful with several surprise twists and turns.The truth at the end is truly shocking. However, in my opinion, it cannot match The Judas Window.


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