The Skeleton Room by Kate Ellis

The Skeleton Room by Kate Ellis
Publisher: Piatkus
Genre: Contemporary, Historical, Mystery/Suspense/Thriller
Rating: 3 stars
Reviewed by Fern

When builders converting Chadleigh Hall, a former school, into a luxury hotel discover a skeleton in a sealed room, DI Wesley Peterson is called in to investigate.

Soon Wesley has a second suspicious death on their hands: a team of marine archaeologists working on a nearby shipwreck off the Devon coast have dragged a woman’s body from the sea.

As Wesley investigates Chadleigh Hall’s past and the woman’s violent death, both trails lead in surprising directions. Matters are further complicated when a man wanted for murder in London appears on the scene – a man who may know more about the case than he admits . . .

DI Wesley Peterson is called in to investigate when the building refurbishment of an old girls’ school in preparation to become a ritzy hotel finds the skeleton of a young girl walled up in a small room. Unsure exactly how old the skeleton is, DI Peterson soon finds himself quite busy when the body of a woman washes up off the coastline, and the skeleton is found to likely be from the 1960s and still requiring investigation. With an old shipwreck being dived and excavated by his archaeologist friends the small country town is soon bustling and very busy just before the summer tourist season begins once again.

I’ve been enjoying this series and found this British small town mystery book to be yet another excellent addition. While I did find in this installment the archaeology took a bit more of a back seat than I’m used to, I was pleased that the two main mysteries – that of the schoolgirl skeleton and the suspicious death/drowning of the young woman were both logical, interestingly written and very much front and center for most of the book. The shipwreck – and slight sub-plot involving the genealogy investigation surrounding this – all added a good bit of extra mystery and overall, I found the book quite the page turning. It certainly held my attention as these various plots all revolved around each other and appeared in places to cross over.

The main cast of the police team, Wesley’s wife and child, and Wesley’s old school chum Neil all worked very well together, and I was doubly intrigued when one of the previous detectives who had left for the bright lights of London and the Met also turned up. I feel readers should greatly enjoy the many moving parts to this story and feel it can certainly be picked up as a stand along from a plot perspective. There is a bit of history and connection between the network of characters though I feel that is all clearly and well explained and so readers who haven’t read any of the previous books should feel comfortable picking this book up by itself.

With a solid series of plots and a good small town/British police procedural feel to it this is a great book and one I enjoyed.

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