The Shadow Collector by Kate Ellis

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The Shadow Collector by Kate Ellis

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Category: Crime
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Jill Bone
Reviewed by Jill Bone
Summary: Solid who-done-it with a strong sense of place and interesting parallels with a more superstitious age.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 359 Date: August 2013
Publisher: Piatkus
ISBN: 978-0-7499-5800-8

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A convicted murderess and alleged witch returns to Devil’s Tree Cottage, after eighteen years in jail for butchering two teenage girls. When bodies start falling in West Fretham just days after her release, dispatched by Wiccan ceremonial blades, she is the obvious suspect. But, for DI Wesley Peterson, something strange is going on in the village that casts doubt on the identity of the killer and on the validity of Lilith Benley’s original conviction.

Ellis paints an eerie picture of a wind-blown Devon landscape populated by distrustful locals harbouring their own dark secrets. The strong sense of place is backed up by a sup-plot about an architectural dig at one of the local houses. Site director Neil Watson finds buried evidence of witchcraft in Civil War England that ties in with the journals of Alison Hadness, a young woman hanged for being a witch in 1643. Excerpts from Alison’s diary precede every chapter that have strong parallels with the main story and intensify the sense of evil and superstition that runs through the book.

The Shadow Collector has the qualities of a good thriller in terms of generating suspense. There are lots of lurching plot twists and subtle hints about the murders that keep the reader guessing. None of the villagers can be trusted but strong suspects often turn out to be false leads. Their actions and complex interrelationships seem to implicate nearly all of them at some point but, when the killer’s true identity is exposed, you won’t see it coming.

I would definitely read more books in this series and by this author. My only slight disappointment was the character of Wesley, the novel’s protagonist. He seems a bit bland, as if being a black detective in rural Devon makes him interesting on its own. He doesn’t have any kinks and flaws to interest the reader in his personal journey and there’s not much insight into what drives him to be a good policeman. Why did he join the force? Perhaps he saw his parents murdered by Yardie gangsters and that left him hell-bent on fighting crime? But I may be getting carried away…

If this book appeals then you might like to try The Burning by Jane Casey.

Kate Ellis's D I Wesley Peterson Novels in chronological order

Buy The Shadow Collector by Kate Ellis at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Shadow Collector by Kate Ellis at

Buy The Shadow Collector by Kate Ellis at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Shadow Collector by Kate Ellis at


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