The Shroud Maker by Kate Ellis

TheShroudMakerThe Palkin Festival, held in the Devonshire town of Tradmouth, occurs every summer (although it’s passed without mention in the previous seventeen books), inspired by the local hero/villain John Palkin. But last year it was shrouded in tragedy as Jenny Bercival, a young woman, disappeared without trace. And this year, as the festival begins again, notes are sent to Jenny’s mother saying that the woman is alive and well and still in Tradmouth. But tragedy is about to strike again.

When a young woman’s body is found floating at sea in a boat, it seems that a fantasy website called Shipworld links the disappearances. In this world, Palkin is a hero, fighting against the faceless Shroud Maker. And both missing girls have a tatto of Palkin’s ship on their shoulders.

Meanwhile DI Wesley Peterson’s friend Neil has uncovered evidence of past horrors but it seems that the present seems intent on mimicking both the past and the fantasy world.

Book Eighteen of the Wesley Peterson series – I thought I’d finally caught up with Kate but there’s another one, The Death Season, that’s just been released. But that’s good news, as I’d hate not to have another of this series to read.

For newcomers to the blog, you can find the reviews of the first seventeen books in the series on my Kate Ellis page, but to make things simple, they’re all excellent reads and this is no exception. There are multiple strands going through the story and it’s best not to make any assumptions. As is sometimes the case, there are possible one too many coincidences in the tale but that is an acceptable part of the storytelling in order to keep things moving.

There was one aspect that I felt came partly out of nowhere, but that was more than redeemed by some positively chilling aspects of the story, in particular the tale of the past that reads more like a horror story than a mystery, and also the part of the present day story that mirrors it. Some very clever writing and plotting here.

It’s also nice to see some plot points moving along in the lives of our heroes, with one story finally leaping forward – it’ll be interesting to see how things move forward next time. It was a little surprising that the… thing that happens to one of the leads isn’t left as more of a cliffhanger for next time, but I imagine more people would be annoyed if it was than if it wasn’t.

One thing – I didn’t quite get the on-line fantasy thing. It seems to be just someone writing stories on-line with a huge following. Do these things really exist with such a following? Never mind, it seems to work here.

So, again, another winner from Kate Ellis. Highly Recommended.

This review is Book 7 of my attempt at Readathon UK for the school where I work – ten books between 6th Feb and 5th March. If you want to make a donation to the children’s charities that they support, then please visit their Just Giving page.


  1. From your review it appears that a basic pattern is the same as in the Shining Skull. There will be 2 strands, one present and the other past. There will be striking similarities between the 2 strands though there is no actual connection between the two.
    Isn’t it a remarkable coincidence that whatever case Peterson investigates, there is an uncanny resemblance to a crime in the distant past ?


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