Dead Man’s Lane (2019) by Kate Ellis

Strangefields Farm on Dead Man’s Lane has a dark past. It was on that farm that Jackson Temples painted and then brutally murdered four young girls. Temples was jailed but the crimes were never forgotten…

When human remains are discovered by developers on Dead Man’s Lane, it seems that more evidence of Temples’ crimes have been discovered. But when a local florist is murdered in a method identical to Temples’, it seems that the uncovered bones have started a new cycle of violence.

But how is the death of the florist connected to the murder of a retired Maths teacher? What do either of them have to do with Jackson Temples? Or do the murders have links to something much older? A monstrous crime occurred on Dead Man’s Lane over three hundred years ago, a crime that has echoes in the present. For it appears that death is not the end for some people…

First off, I feel that I need to say that Kate is a friend of the blog. I first met her almost eight years ago at a local book signing in Formby. We had a bit of a chat, I got my copy of The Jackal Man signed, and then I went home and read the book. It’s fair to say I’ve been hooked ever since. We’ve met a few times since – I’ve even got a photo to prove it.

Kate Ellis and me at the British Library!

I’m saying that just in case you think I’m a bit biased. Because I’m going to sing the praises of Dead Man’s Lane. A lot.

This book is a masterpiece in misdirection, constantly tricking the reader into looking the wrong way. I know, that’s what thrillers are supposed to do, but old hands like me are pretty good at spotting the twists and turns. So when I get fooled several times in the course of a single book…

While it may not be a fairly-clued, classic-style mystery – it’s much more of a one-solution-makes-sense tale – it reads like a jigsaw puzzle. All the pieces are they for you to mix up and try and make a picture, and it’s a lot of fun trying to do so. And it’s not one of those puzzles where the most of the picture is boring old sky…

This is a deeply satisfying read – I basically read it in one sitting, one long and very enjoyable sitting. The recurring characters are a pleasure to return to (although my one quibble – I could do with the Wesley/Rachel story being knocked on the head). Kate does a good job of managing a large cast of suspects without me ever having to remind myself who someone was. It’s quite a skill when someone is mentioned who hasn’t appeared for 100 or so pages and you know exactly who it was and what they’ve done so far. And Kate doesn’t forget to provide a motivation for the murderer that is utterly chilling and yet completely believable.

You might have guessed, I loved this book, one of the strongest in the series. And after twenty-two other books, that’s quite something.

Oh, and I’m not biased. Just saying…

Availability: Dead Man’s Lane is out now in hardback and ebook. Paperback will follow in August.



  1. I asked because the novel is too lengthy at 400 pages and I’ll not get the courage to start it. However, I can reduce the number of pages by skipping entirely the past strand !
    I have read only one novel by Kate Ellis, The Shining Skull. I found it quite suspenseful with several twists and turns and a shocking ending. It is very good and I enjoyed reading it. But I skipped entirely the past strand (totally irrelevant in my opinion !)

    Liked by 1 person

    • Well, the past strand can barely be 20 pages so you’re not saving any time really, just losing some of the richness. If you eliminate titles to read simply by page count, that’s a shame.


  2. I confess I like my mystery novels to stay under 300 pages… I confess I’ve never quite taken to Kate Ellis’s works, much I acknowledge that the three Wesley Peterson novels I’ve read were well-written. I’ve thus far read “Mermaid’s Scream”, “Jackal Man” and “Armada Boy” – and haven’t been tempted to read further.

    But I must say that Kate Ellis got me hooked with the Albert Lincoln series, so perhaps I should give Wesley Peterson another chance? Would you have a particular title to recommend – would this one be worth a last shot for Wesley Peterson?


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