Thursday, 7 October 2010

Playing with Bones by Kate Ellis

This is the second in the DI Joe Plantagenet series, set in Eborby (York). A strong element in Kate Ellis's work is the awareness of influences from a world of ghosts - it's left very much up to the reader whether to take them into account or not, but they do seem to play a part in the lives of her characters. In this one, a little girl has a friend who may or may not be imaginary, and a murderer believes that he hears the taunting voices of children.

The body of a young woman has been found in Singmass Close, and the murder seems to imitate a spate of killings that took place in the Close in the 1950s. Could it be the same person? There were certain details not released to the public at the time of the first murders which are present here, but Joe and his boss Emily don't intially have much success following up the people involved at the time, and the killer was never caught. Meanwhile, another young woman has gone missing from home, although her mother doesn't seem to be taking her disappearance very seriously, and a convicted murderer has escaped from custody.  To add to the overwork and strain, Joe is having trouble with his love life, and Emily is worried about her small daughter.

This series in settling in well, I think, continuing to draw on the author's evident interest in local history, and the two main characters and their working relationship are developing nicely. There is room to flesh out some of the other police officers, and I'd like to see more of Joe's friend, Canon Merriweather. These are gentle mysteries, with just a little otherworldly frisson and some mildly spooky settings in Eborby's medieval streets and closes. I might not sound quite so complacent if I were reading them alone in a medieval city at night, so I think they continue to earn their place on my RIPV reading list!


  1. This series is new to me and it sounds rather good so will make a note of it. Have you tried the Inspector Perez books by Ann Cleeves? Those are rather good too, have just finished the second one.

  2. There are so many murder mysteries which are in a series - P D James, Patricia Cornwell to name two of my favorites. This is a new one for me so thanks for the post.

  3. I'm thinking she must write more than one series? I know I've read reviews on other books of hers. This one sounds good...and with an interesting twist to it (the ghostly influences)!