“Lilith Benley and her mother, rumoured to be witches, were convicted of the brutal murder of two teenage girls. Eighteen years later Lilith is released from prison, and soon a young woman is found dead at a neighbouring farm. Called in to investigate, DI Wesley Peterson now has to deal with the terrifying possibility that Lilith Benley has killed again…
Meanwhile archaeologist Neil Watson discovers a gruesome wax doll at a house that once belonged to a woman hanged for witchcraft. Then Neil has a near fatal accident, and some suspect a supernatural connection. Now it is up to Wesley to uncover terrible secrets and bring a dangerous killer to justice – a killer who will stop at nothing to wreak vengeance and death.”
“The Shadow Collector” is book number seventeen and, as with the last one, there are two stories told in parallel – one from the present day and the other from during the English civil war in 1643.
The modern-day tale is the principle tale here, and concerns the events occurring after convicted murderer Lilith Benley is released from prison and returns to her home, Devil’s Tree Cottage, in a small village in Devon.
There is a reality television show being filmed at the neighbouring farm, down to its’ last two contestants – an ageing TV comedian and a former boyband singer.
When a young woman is found murdered between the two properties DI Wesley Peterson and his immediate boss DCI Gerry Heffernan are naturally suspicious of Lilith. However, both celebrities at the farm seem to have things to hide, as do a number of local residents.
Meanwhile, the excavation of the basement of nearby Mercy Hall uncovers some nasty looking wax dolls, giving the supervising archaeologist Neil Watson something else to dig into.
Mercy Hall is the former home of Alison Hadness, a woman hung in 1643 as a result of accusations of witchcraft – and we learn more about her story, and that of Captain Thomas Whitcombe, through their journal entries dotted throughout the book.
This won’t be an easy case to solve for the police – or for the reader. As you would expect from a decent crime thriller there are several red herrings to be found here, but even once those have been revealed it still doesn’t prepare you for the final, unexpected, twist!