Welcome to the official website of the author Kate Ellis

Welcome to the official website of Kate Ellis

Kate Ellis is the author of two exciting series of crime novels, two historical novels and many short stories.

September 2021

It’s been a busy couple of months and it’s been wonderful to take part in live events again. It was a little daunting at first after so many months of restrictions and I felt a bit ‘rusty’ and out of practice but it was amazing how quickly I began to enjoy being out and about again.

In August I travelled up to Whitley Bay to attend the launch of MANY DEADLY RETURNS, a fantastic anthology celebrating twenty one years of Murder Squad. The launch was a lovely event held in The Bound, Whitley Bay’s brand new bookshop, and attended by all Murder Squad members. The anthology has already attracted some great reviews such as this one from Publishers’ Weekly https://www.publishersweekly.com/9780727890931


Earlier this month I travelled to Devon where, as well as a lot of walking and sightseeing, I carried out some research for Wesley Peterson’s next case. I did some book signings while I was there and a big thanks to Browser Books in Dartmouth and The Harbour Bookshop in Kingsbridge for making me so welcome. On the way back up north I also visited The Snug Bookshop in Bridgewater, Somerset where I met up with my fellow Murder Squaddie, Ann Cleeves.


One of the highlights of my stay in Devon this year was taking part in a ‘Desert Island Books’ evening at Totnes Library. I had to choose ten of my favourite books and extracts were read by a local drama group who certainly did them justice. It was a really enjoyable evening and it was so good to meet readers and library staff again. Thank you to everyone involved!

I’m really thrilled that THE STONE CHAMBER has been very well received and will be out in paperback next March.

At last I’ve sent the manuscript of Wesley’s twenty sixth case to my publisher and the good news is that I’ve been given a contract for two more. My visit to Devon (where the books are set) certainly gave me some new ideas!

July 2021

I’m delighted to report that my 26th Wesley Peterson mystery, THE STONE CHAMBER, will be published in hardback and ebook on 5th August.

The Stone Chamber LoRes

THE STONE CHAMBER begins with the execution-style murder of Robert and Greta Gerdner at their home in the Devon countryside. DI Wesley Peterson suspects that the deaths may be linked to Robert’s past police career – until Robert’s name is found on a list of people sent tickets anonymously for a tour of Darkhole Grange, a former asylum on Dartmoor.

When Wesley discovers that other names on the list have also died in mysterious circumstances, he is drawn into the chilling history of the asylum and becomes more and more convinced that it holds the key to the case. Then, with the clock ticking he must solve the puzzle before the next person on the list meets a terrible end.

All my Wesley Peterson books deal with a modern day murder case – but there is always a historical mystery in the background. In THE STONE CHAMBER a woman’s skeleton in found buried in a cell attached to a ruined church; a cell that once housed an anchoress (or holy hermit) back in the fifteenth century. Wesley’s friend, archaeologist Neil Watson, makes the grim discovery and Wesley wonders whether there could be a link between the skeleton and later tragic events at Darkhole Grange.

I love delving into history and the initial idea for THE STONE CHAMBER came to me while I was attending a writers’ conference in the ancient city of Norwich some years ago. While I was there I visited the cell of St Julian, an anchoress born in the fourteenth century who was isolated from the world in a small cell where she stayed for life. Renowned for her spiritual wisdom, she was the first woman known to have written a book. St Julian was clearly a remarkable woman but she was far from being the only one who followed this particular calling.

Anchoresses and anchorites were part of the spiritual landscape of the middle ages and many embraced the solitary calling willingly, which is something we’d probably find hard to understand today. These people were shut away in solitary confinement (apart from having an attendant to provide food and other necessary services) and we might find it shocking to learn that they actually had to witness their own funeral mass before being led to a stone cell (usually attached to a parish church). Then a Latin command from the priest or bishop was given to seal the candidate into their voluntary prison, never to be seen alive again. Surprisingly there was no shortage of volunteers and making the commitment was seen as an honour. Such an existence would not only bring them closer to God but their prayers were thought to protect the community. It was customary to bury an anchorite or anchoress inside the cell where they had lived and died.

However, not everyone could endure the life. In fourteenth century Surrey an anchoress called Christina Carpenter had a change of heart and was found outside her cell. She not only received penance for her disobedience but letters exist ordering that she should be ‘kept more securely’ and the only small doorway into her cell was replaced by a solid wall. The very thought makes me shudder.

But it wasn’t only the historical aspect of a story that I needed to research. When I began to examine more recent history I made some disturbing discoveries about the horrifying way in which some women were locked away in asylums for the ‘crime’ of getting pregnant out of wedlock. I’d known this happened during the Victorian period when lunatic asylums were often used to get rid of inconvenient family members, but I was shocked to discover that the 1913 Mental Deficiency Act allowed unmarried mothers to be categorized as ‘moral imbeciles’ and confined in asylums until the act was repealed as late as 1959. Tragically, some of these women were still found to be incarcerated when the asylums closed in the late twentieth century.

Researching THE STONE CHAMBER took me to some surprising places but one thing I didn’t need to research was Wesley’s fear of confined spaces because this is something I’ve shared with him for as long as I can remember. But to look on the bright side, at least my avoidance of lifts has meant that I’ve had plenty of exercise going up and down stairs over the years. However, if I’d lived in the middle ages I certainly wouldn’t have been one of the many who volunteered for life as an anchoress.

Happily, it seems that at last I’m able to do some events in person. As a member of Murder Squad (with my fellow Northern writers Ann Cleeves, Martin Edwards, Cath Staincliffe, Margaret Murphy and Chris Simms) I’ve contributed three short stories to our new anthology (to celebrate Murder Squad’s 21st birthday). It’s called MANY DEADLY RETURNS and it’s out in late August. The launch is on 19th August at 7.30 at The Bound (Whitley Bay’s new bookshop) https://www.forumbooksshop.com/product/many-deadly-returns-21-stories-celebrating-21-years-of-murder-squad-martin-edwards-margaret-murphy-9780727890931/9818?cs=true&cst=custom It should be a wonderful evening and I’m so looking forward to meeting readers again. In mid September I’ll be in Devon and I’ll be taking part in events at Totnes and Barnstaple Libraries (see events page for details). Hope to see some of you there!

May 2021

I apologise for neglecting this diary over the past couple of months. I’ve been keeping my head down in my brand new office (a replacement for my old writing shed that had seen better days) working on Wesley Peterson’s next case (the only clue I’m going to give you is that it involves the Roman occupation of the South West of England. It has always been thought that they never ventured much beyond Exeter . . . but what if they did?) Anyway, it’s been great fun conducting the research and planning out the twisty and devious plot and I’m currently working on the third draft.


Last weekend I was delighted to take part in a panel for Bodies from the Library (a British Library conference on classic crime fiction) discussing the latest Detection Club publication Howdunit. The event was online, of course, but it was good to talk about Howdunit. It is a comprehensive book about the art and craft of crime writing from past and present members of the exclusive club, all of whom are (or were) leading crime writers. There are sections from Agatha Christie, Reginald Hill, Ruth Rendell, PD James, Len Deighton, Ann Cleeves, Ian Rankin and Peter James (to name but a few) and I have contributed a section on plotting. It is certainly an impressive book and a must have for all aspiring crime writers. Click here to access a recording of the event.

My main news is that the third book in my Albert Lincoln trilogy, The House of the Hanged Woman, is out in paperback (and cheaper ebook) on Thursday May 27th! The story begins when Scotland Yard detective, Albert is called up to Wenfield in Derbyshire in 1921 to investigate the disappearance of a Member of Parliament. But this isn’t his first visit to the village because he solved a case there two years before at great personal cost.


The House of the Hanged Woman begins when a man’s disfigured and naked body is found by an ancient stone circle called the Devil’s Dancers. The local police assume this is the missing MP but when they’re proved wrong and there are more strange deaths, Albert realises the case is far more complex than he first imagined. Ghosts from the past are reawakened as he tries to solve the mystery surrounding Wenfield once and for all – but will there be a happy ending after all the tragedy he’s had to face since his return from the Great War?

I do hope my readers enjoy this latest (and final) case for Albert. I’ve grown fond of him over the three books in the trilogy (the other two being A High Mortality of Doves and The Boy who lived with the Dead) and in a way I’m sad to leave him behind.

I’m looking forward to talking about my work at the (online) Crediton Literary Festival on Saturday 5th June at 3.30pm where I’ll be the headline speaker. Tickets are available (free) here. Hope to ‘see’ you there.

Fans of Wesley Peterson will be glad to know that his next case The Stone Chamber is out on 5th August. Watch this space for more details.

Happy reading and I really hope I’ll be able to get out and about to meet readers at bookshops and libraries in the not too distant future.

February 2021

Wishing everyone a very happy, if very belated, New Year! Let’s all hope that 2021 will be a great improvement on 2020.

Christmas is now a distant memory of course and, inevitably, it was a lot more subdued than usual. I have, however, been able to go out on some lovely, if chilly, walks. Here I am on a local walk in the grounds of the home of Agatha Christie’s sister, Madge. Agatha was a frequent visitor to the house, Abney Hall, and it was the inspiration for many of the country houses in her books. Since lockdown it’s been one of my favourite local walks, made even more attractive by its crime fiction connections.


The writing’s going well but I’m not finding it easy in the present circumstances. I was really pleased to hear Anthony Horowitz (a writer I greatly admire) being interviewed on the BBC. His experience of the present situation exactly mirrored my own. Even though everyone assumes you’ll have more time for writing, the reality is that you feel unsettled and distracted so things that used to take a day to do now take a week.  

Having said that, I have managed to write. I’ve completed the first draft of a stand alone book but this has been put on the back burner for a while to allow me to begin Wesley’s next enquiry (and conduct a lot of research into Roman Devon). Once I’ve completed Wesley’s twenty sixth case (I can’t believe I’ve written so many) I’ll pick up the stand alone again but I won’t say anything about it yet. It’s good to do something completely different from time to time as it keeps your writing fresh.

Talking of writing something different, I love to write short stories and I’ve just had one accepted for the prestigious Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine in the States (entitled ‘Next Door’) although I don’t yet know when this will appear in print.

I’m delighted to say that the third and final book in my historical Albert Lincoln trilogy, THE HOUSE OF THE HANGED WOMAN, has been really well received and I’m looking forward to the paperback publication in May – only three months to go!


The other big news is that the lovely and atmospheric cover for THE STONE CHAMBER, Wesley Peterson’s brand new case (his twenty fifth) has been revealed by my publisher. The publication date is in August – and here’s the cover! Great isn’t it!

The Stone Chamber LoRes

 Happy reading!

December 2020

I do hope everyone’s keeping well in these difficult times. With a severely restricted Christmas on the horizon the only bright spot is the thought of settling down with a good book and I must say I’ve enjoyed being transported into another (pre-lockdown) world by reading crime novels (and writing them of course).

The good news is that the third book in my Albert Lincoln trilogy, set in the north of England in the aftermath of WW1, is now out in hardback and ebook. THE HOUSE OF THE HANGED WOMAN begins in 1921 when a Member of Parliament goes missing in a Derbyshire village and DI Albert Lincoln from Scotland Yard is sent to investigate. Does the naked body discovered at an ancient stone circle belong to the missing MP – or is the case more strange and complex than Albert could ever have predicted? This is the final book in the trilogy and I’ll be very sad to leave Albert behind (you’ll have to read the book to find out how his dramatic story ends!)


However, since finishing THE HOUSE OF THE HANGED WOMAN I haven’t been idle. I’ve recently embarked on a brand new crime fiction venture, although I don’t want to say too much about this yet – more news to follow, hopefully! I’ve also completed my next Wesley Peterson mystery (entitled THE STONE CHAMBER). My editor loved it and it will be published in the middle of next year. I can’t believe it’ll be Wesley’s 25th case – and, as I keep getting new ideas for the series, it definitely won’t be his last.

Lockdown has been such a challenging time. Not only have I missed meeting up with friends and family but not being able to get out and about talking to readers at libraries and bookshops has been horrible. All events for 2020 were cancelled, of course, as well as some I had booked for early 2021, but with the vaccine imminent (I have my sleeve rolled up already – can’t wait to get back to normal!!!) hopefully things will improve soon.

On a more cheerful note, I’m not sure how many people will realize that Wesley Peterson’s latest case THE BURIAL CIRCLE has a decidedly seasonal flavour! It’s set in the run up to Christmas in a small Devon village – and it even features a Santa’s grotto!

the burial circle

Very best wishes for Festive Season – and Happy Reading.

October 2020

Just when we thought things were getting better, the Covid crisis has worsened again. I was really looking forward to resuming normal life (and even meeting readers at libraries and festivals again) but now it seems those hopes have been dashed.

In early September, when things looked as though they were improving, we managed to get to Devon. We’d booked to go there back in January when the events of 2020 couldn’t possibly have been predicted and I consider myself lucky to have got there at all. It was lovely to be back in South Devon and, even though three planned library events had to be cancelled, I managed to do a lot of walking and research. I also walked the five miles from Kingswear (over the river from Dartmouth) to Agatha Christie’s home at Greenway and I even managed to visit some lovely independent bookshops in Dartmouth, Totnes and Kingswear to sign some stock.



The rest of the time I’ve been busy working on Wesley’s next case. My publisher wanted to change the title from The Butterfly Cage to THE STONE CHAMBER and I agreed. My editor loved it and I’ve now finished the changes she suggested. It will be published next August.

The big news is that the paperback of THE BURIAL CIRCLE is out on Thursday 15th October and should be available in all good bookshops or on Amazon

the burial circle

There’s also good news for fans of A HIGH MORTALITY OF DOVES and THE BOY WHO LIVED WITH THE DEAD. Albert Lincoln returns for the third and final instalment of the trilogy – THE HOUSE OF THE HANGED WOMAN – which will be published in hardback in late November (just in time for Christmas). THE HOUSE OF THE HANGED WOMAN sees Albert returning up North to investigate the disappearance of a Member of Parliament. Does the unidentified corpse found near an ancient stone circle belong to the missing man? And could the brutal murder of a clerk from a nearby mill be connected to other sinister events? There’s also the question many people will have been asking after reading the first two books - will Albert ever find happiness? You’ll have to wait until November to find out.

Last week I was delighted to be interviewed on Liverpool 247 Radio by Pauline Daniels and Chris High. If you’d like to listen to the interview just click here.

July 2020

Oh dear – I’ve just realised that I haven’t written this diary since May. My only excuse is that I’ve been working hard on Wesley Peterson’s next investigation, The Butterfly Cage, so I haven’t been idle. At last I’ve managed to send the book off to my editor at Little, Brown and while I’m waiting for her verdict, I’m thinking of an exciting new project – although I’m saying nothing about it yet. As I said in my last diary entry, inspiration has been rather thin on the ground during the current crisis but I’m hoping things will improve as life slowly gets back to normal.

I was tidying my desk (something I always do when I’ve just finished a book) when I came across last year’s appointments diary. 2019 was a wonderful year and the highlights included a fantastic weekend with Murder Squad at The Word in South Shields, Slaughter in Southwold and a lovely crime weekend in Beverley where my murder mystery was performed by brilliant actors who could give most Oscar winners a run for their money. Then, to top it all, there was the Daggers Dinner where I was awarded the CWA Dagger in the Library. It was certainly a year I’ll never forget.

All the memories of those happy times reminded me of the plans I had for 2020. Having won the Dagger in the Library, my diary was full of library talks, murder mysteries I was going to present, and festivals such as CrimeFest and Newcastle Noir. But of course those diary entries have now been scribbled out – cancelled or postponed.

One of the main pleasures of a writer’s life (in my case at least) is coming out of the self-imposed isolation needed to create a book to meet the people who read those books and share an enthusiasm for crime fiction. Over lockdown many writers have missed meeting readers and library staff and have found it difficult to concentrate on writing without this contact with the outside world. I’ve been really touched and encouraged by emails from readers telling me how much my books have helped them through lockdown and entertained them in isolation. This has meant an awful lot. In the current situation it’s easy to feel that you’re working in a vacuum and it’s so good to know that your efforts might have been of some use to people in difficult times. It’s wonderful to see that libraries and book shops have now started to reopen. Hope it won’t be long before we can meet again.


Last week we decided to get away for a few nights so, wanting to support the hospitality industry which has been going through such a difficult time, we booked a hotel in the Lakes. It was a lovely break and I’m so glad we went because the people in the hotel and restaurants were so welcoming and relieved to be getting back to work again. When we were on a long walk around Grasmere we met an elderly gentleman, obviously a local, who thanked us for visiting. We said it was a pleasure – thank you for having us. Getting out amongst nature is so good for the mental health and even though this country can’t promise a Mediterranean climate, there’s such a lot to see. Happy Staycation (and don’t forget to take some good crime novels with you!)

May 2020

It’s been just over a month since I last wrote this diary and the truth is, there’s not very much to write about. Apart from being allowed to leave the house once a day for a spot of exercise, I’ve been inside trying to write. However, my spirits were lifted a little when I watched Robert Harris being interviewed on TV this morning and his feelings about the situation mirror mine. Yes, as writers we spend a lot of time hunched over a laptop making up stories on our own. BUT the thing that keeps us sane and motivated is the knowledge that life is happening around us and is just waiting for us to leave our desks and join in. Perhaps that’s why writers enjoy socialising so much (something confirmed by the atmosphere at the bar during crime festivals). I’m really missing meeting readers at libraries and book shops.

Something else that occurred to me is that writers need to get out and about for inspiration. Gone are the overheard conversations, the interesting tales attached to places we visit. It’s a good job I began Wesley Peterson’s next case before all this happened. However, it’s rather uncanny that the book I’m working on at the moment (started in January) features someone who is locked away from the world (and there is also a revelation about Wesley himself that some of you might find surprising). I’d been toying with the theme of someone forced into isolation for some time – how was I to know that it would happen in the real world? Hopefully, by the time this book (working title The Butterfly Cage) is published in August 2021 Covid 19 will be a distant memory. I just hope nobody thinks I’ve jumped on a lockdown bandwagon – honestly, the idea came to me long before it was even heard of.

The Burial Circle is still doing well and it’s lovely to hear how many people have enjoyed it. I’ve just completed the copy edit of the third book in my Albert Lincoln Trilogy, The House of the Hanged woman, which is out in November – just in time for Christmas. The other bit of good news is that my first three Wesley books, The Merchant’s House, The Armada Boy and An Unhallowed Grave are being reissued this summer with lovely new covers. Do watch this space for more details.


Recently I recorded a short video for the Crime Readers’ Association about my writing place. I’m not sure when it will be issued yet but do look out for it. It not only features my office but my writing shed – with the lovely weather we’ve been having recently I’ve been in my shed a lot, enjoying the scent of lilac as I ‘commute’ down the garden.

Take care everyone and happy reading!

March 2020

We are living in very strange times. Just a few weeks ago I was looking forward to a year of events and conferences where I could meet readers (not to mention a couple of holidays) but things haven’t turned out quite as planned. The events have all been cancelled and the entire population is on lockdown.

I expected this to be a time when I could really focus on writing but instead I’m finding it hard to concentrate. Perhaps it’s the constant worry that family and friends will fall victim to the dreaded virus or perhaps it’s the disruption of routine and lack of leisure time to look forward to. I’m not really sure but I know that other writers I’ve been in touch with are feeling the same. It just shows that uncertainty doesn’t help the creative process.

In the meantime I’m trying to rewrite the 70,000 words of the rough partial draft I’m working on (the next Wesley Peterson book) and trying to stay cheerful.


My main writing news is that THE BURIAL CIRCLE was published last month. It was inspired by a talk given to the archaeology group I belong to about industrial archaeology. Also my husband volunteers at a nearby National Trust property, Quarry Bank Mill in Cheshire (run by the National Trust) so I was able to do some first hand research (especially about the possibility of a body being caught up in a water wheel). My research also threw up a lot of fascinating facts about Victorian ‘burial clubs’ and their murderous possibilities. Here’s a quick precis of what to expect:

On a stormy night in December a tree is blown down on a Devon Farm. When the tree is dragged away, a distinctive red rucksack is found caught up in its roots – and next to it is a human skeleton. 

The discovery revives memories for DI Wesley Peterson, memories of a young hitchhiker who went missing twelve years before. The missing girl had been carrying a red rucksack so suddenly the cold case becomes red hot.

 Meanwhile in a nearby village of Petherham, a famous TV psychic is found dead in suspicious circumstances. Wesley’s friend, archaeologist Neil Watson, is studying Petherham’s ancient mill and uncovering the village’s surprisingly sinister history. Neil’s revelations make Wesley wonder whether a string of mysterious deaths in Petherham over a hundred years ago could be linked to the more recent killings.

 When Wesley digs deeper into the case it seems that dark whisperings of a burial circle in the village might not be merely legend after all. And as he tracks down a ruthless killer he finds that deadly danger lurks in the most unexpected places! 

the burial circle

I do hope you enjoy reading THE BURIAL CIRCLE (and that it helps to take your minds off the current crisis!)

Take good care of yourselves. We can only look forward to this being over so life can get back to normal!

January 2020

A month has gone by since Christmas (it doesn’t seem that long) and I’ve been working hard (I’m afraid Dry January would never work for me – I look forward to my glass of red wine at the end of the working day!) Not only have I made a start on Wesley Peterson’s next case but I’ve finished my editor’s revisions on The House of the Hanged Woman, the final mystery in the Albert Lincoln trilogy set in the aftermath of the First World War. The House of the Hanged Woman sees Albert return to Wenfield in Derbyshire to investigate the disappearance of a Member of Parliament. An unrecognisable body has been found in a cave in the Peak District but is it the absent politician – or is something more sinister going on? I’ve really loved writing about Albert and that fascinating period of history and I confess that I’ll miss him. The House of the Hanged Woman will be due out in time for next Christmas.


One of my presents this Christmas was a trip to a vineyard for a wine tasting. To my surprise that vineyard was in Holmfirth (on the Yorkshire side of the Pennines). Holmfirth was made famous by being the setting for the long running TV comedy ‘The Last of the Summer Wine’ and (in spite of the programme’s title) it was the last place you’d expect to find a vineyard because that area is hardly renowned for its sunny climate. However, it turns out that certain varieties of grape grow very well there (I shouldn’t really have doubted because I believe the Romans used to have vineyards in the north of England). The whole trip was a very pleasant surprise (and, incidentally, the wine was very good). While I was in Holmfirth I couldn’t resist calling into the library there to say hello to the staff there. It was lovely to meet everyone!


At the moment I’m looking forward to the publication of Wesley’s twenty fourth case The Burial Circle, at the beginning of February. The story begins when Wesley’s brother-in-law receives a disturbing visit from an anonymous stranger. Then a tree is blown down in a storm, revealing a skeleton tangled in its roots, and when the skeleton turns out to be that of a hitchhiker who vanished a decade earlier, Wesley and Gerry face one of their most puzzling cases yet. I do hope all my readers enjoy The Burial Circle with its intertwined mysteries and its links to the Victorian cult of death.

the burial circle

Final Day of December 2019

I do hope you all had a lovely Christmas.

I can’t believe that another year has almost gone and a new one stretches ahead. My pristine 2020 diary is already filling up fast and it looks as though the coming year is going to be a busy one. My publisher has just given me a contract for two new Wesley Peterson mysteries and also wants me to write a stand-alone crime novel. I’m looking forward to the challenge of beginning work as soon as the Festive Season is out of the way but beginning a new book from scratch is always a little daunting.

Just before Christmas I finished the third book in my Albert Lincoln trilogy (The House of the Hanged Woman) and sent it off to my editor. It was good to get it all done and out of the way so I could concentrate on family and the festivities. I just hope my editor likes it!

The week before Christmas also saw me celebrating with readers at my local library where the fantastic staff had recreated a Poirot-style drawing room and the audience sat with mulled wine and mince pies while I read out my Christmas short story The Christmas Card List. I also sang new words I’d made up to the tune of Santa Claus is Coming to Town. My own little tribute to Agatha Christie!















I’m delighted to say that everyone enjoyed it and joined in with the chorus!

One good thing about Christmas is that normal working life is put on hold and once your guests have left you can slump in front of the telly with a (almost) clear conscience. I was very much looking forward to the new adaptation of A Christmas Carol but I’m afraid I was disappointed and gave up half way through the second instalment. All Dickens’s warmth, wit and rich characterisation was cut out and replaced by darkness, abuse and abject misery. Oh dear – I never thought an encounter with Scrooge and co would prove so utterly depressing (when you could hear what they were saying). I confess I had to watch Alastair Sim’s version straight afterwards to get remind myself what the book was really like. Dickens managed to get his message over perfectly well with a light and entertaining touch. Perhaps this is something all writers should remember.

I’m still mulling over my New Year resolutions but I reckon that a complete ban on stollen and mince pies after January would be a good start.

Here’s wishing all my readers a really happy New Year. All the best for 2020 and happy reading!