24 December 2021

Review: MURDER AT ST ANNE'S, J. R. Ellis

  • this edition a Kindle e-book (Amazon)
  • ASIN ‏ : ‎ B0953L1WP9
  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Thomas & Mercer (December 7, 2021)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Print length ‏ : ‎ 283 pages 
  • Yorkshire Murder Mystery #7

Synopsis (Amazon)

Winter, snow, murder—and a centuries-dead suspect.

In the chilly depths of a Yorkshire winter, a well-liked rector is found bludgeoned to death in her own church. With no sign of a murder weapon, local superstition quickly pins the blame on the ghost of a medieval monk believed to haunt the building…

Well accustomed to unusual murder investigations, DCI Jim Oldroyd takes on the case, along with his assistant, Sergeant Andy Carter, but they are hampered at every turn by the deepening snow and the threat of the supernatural. Even as possible motives and opportunities begin to reveal themselves, Oldroyd struggles to find a better suspect than the hooded phantom.

Has Oldroyd really found himself in the midst of a Gothic ghost story or is there a very real killer at large? Spectre or otherwise, it soon becomes apparent that the murderer is not yet finished. And, for Oldroyd, it’s about to become personal…

My take

Another reader wrote "Murder at St Anne’s is the seventh book in the Yorkshire Murder Mysteries series featuring DCI Jim Oldroyd and his loyal DS Andy Carter. These are gentle old-fashioned detective stories, usually with some form of locked-room puzzle, set in and around the small towns of Yorkshire."

I'm inclined to agree with the "gentle, old-fashioned" descriptor, but that doesn't mean that I enjoyed it any less.  There are really a number of modern aspects to the plots too - pressures from administrators to work more efficiently, to solve crimes faster, but at the same time Oldroyd and Carter try to present the face of personalised policing.

The plot is full of red herrings, a number of locals come under the spotlight and their alibis and possible motives are tested. Back at headquarters members of the investigative team search newspapers and websites for background to the list of suspects, and eventually this strategy is what makes the break through.

I've found that I have actually skipped 3 books in the series, and I am re-assured by readers commenting that it is possible to read these as stand-alones, although obviously there must be character development from one book to the next.

My rating: 4.6

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About the Author

John R. Ellis has lived in Yorkshire for most of his life and has spent many years exploring Yorkshire’s diverse landscapes, history, language and communities. He recently retired after a career in teaching, mostly in further education in the Leeds area. In addition to the Yorkshire Murder Mystery series, he writes poetry, ghost stories and biography. He has completed a screenplay about the last years of the poet Edward Thomas and a work of faction about the extraordinary life of his Irish mother-in-law. He is currently working on his memoirs of growing up in a working-class area of Huddersfield in the 1950s and 1960s.

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