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.

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!

October 2019

Well, it’s been a busy (and rather wonderful) couple of months!

In early September I was in Devon where I did a couple of books signings (of my latest Wesley Peterson paperback Dead Man’s Lane) and presented The Case of the Late Cook at Dartmouth Library (next year I’ve promised to present it at Kingsbridge in Devon so keep an eye on my events page).

In early October I enjoyed a wonderful evening at Bebington Library on the Wirral doing an ‘in conversation’ event with my friend and fellow Murder Squad member, Margaret Murphy (who writes as Ashley Dyer). It was a great evening and, as it wasn’t a million miles from Liverpool where I grew up, I was delighted to see two of my school friends in the audience! My friend, Janet reminded me of the time when, as teenagers, we were asked to leave our local library for making too much noise while doing our homework. She later became a librarian and I became a writer so we had to laugh!

The Murder Squad were reunited in the lovely town of Beverley on the 19th October for a day of talks and panels, culminating in a fantastic performance of my Murder Mystery Death at the Dig in the evening. It was performed by the superb Chameleon Players who gave a wonderfully professional performance (even adding a new role – that of Scotland Yard detective DI Adio). The mystery was solved over a delicious meal of roast beef and Yorkshire pudding and a great time was had by all.


Then it was back to work on the third in my Albert Lincoln trilogy (called The House of the Hanged Woman) but my writing was to be interrupted when, on 24th October, I travelled to London because I’d been shortlisted for the prestigious Crime Writers’ Association Dagger in the Library Award.

It was a glittering occasion and with my fellow shortlisted authors being so distinguished - M C Beaton, Mark Billingham, C J Sansom, John Connolly and Cath Staincliffe, I wasn’t expecting to win. However, when the announcement was made, I heard my name. I’d won and when I went to the stage to receive the award I felt I was walking on air, hardly able to believe the wonderful news!

Here are a couple of pictures of that exciting night. On the right is me with Gold Dagger winner Mike Craven (we share a publisher)

KateDaggerS KateMCravenS

I’d been told that the winners should keep the acceptance speeches short (to avoid the event ending too late . . . and any embarrassing Oscar moments) so I thanked my publisher and the library staff who voted for me. However, what I’d really have liked to say was that I love libraries and have the scar to prove it: when I was five I was coming out of my local library with an armful of books and I fell, cutting my knee really badly (I bear the scar to this day). But this didn’t put me off reading and my trips to the library became more frequent over the years. In my opinion, public libraries are wonderful, valuable institutions and I was so honoured to be chosen for this award. I love supporting libraries and I’ll do my best to do so for many years to come. So join me in raising a glass to libraries. I don’t know where we’d be without them!

August 2019

When I last wrote this diary I was looking forward to my first visit to Suffolk to take part in Slaughter in Southwold. I had a wonderful time there and really enjoyed meeting the lovely crime readers in the large and enthusiastic audience there. A huge thank you to Charlotte Clark from Suffolk Libraries and her team for organising such a wonderful event.


July has been an eventful month. I presented my new murder mystery The Case of the Late Cook at Norton Priory in Cheshire (with the setting changed from Northumberland to Cheshire!). The undercroft of the medieval abbey was a fantastic and atmospheric location (and gratifyingly cool on one of the hottest days of the year), the acting was superb and a good time was had by all. Many thanks to all involved.


July wasn’t only eventful on the writing front. The month saw the arrival of my grandson, Alexander, and it was fun looking after his big sister while he and his mum were in hospital (she loves books and libraries!)

My latest paperback DEAD MAN’S LANE was published on 1st August and I’ve been signing copies in local bookshops. On Friday and Saturday (9th & 10th Aug) I'll be at Stockport and Wilmslow. Do check my events page for details https://www.kateellis.co.uk/events

I’ve written a short piece about the inspiration for DEAD MAN’S LANE (including a chance meeting on a quayside and the discovery of a pair of skulls).


On the 16th August I’ll be at the Crime and Mystery Weekend at St Hilda’s College, Oxford and I’m in the process of arranging some events in Devon in early September. More about that next time.

Happy reading.

June 2019

Everything seemed to happen in May. First of all I managed to send off the manuscript of Wesley Peterson’s twenty fourth case, THE BURIAL CIRCLE, to my lovely editor at Little, Brown. I’m still awaiting her verdict and I’m keeping everything crossed that she likes it.

The paperback of THE BOY WHO LIVED WITH THE DEAD - the follow up to A HIGH MORTALITY OF DOVES and the second in my new Albert Lincoln trilogy – was out at the start of the month and I was lucky enough to be invited to do a book signing at Waterstones in Wilmslow, Cheshire . . . very near to where the book is set. The action of THE BOY WHO LIVED WITH THE DEAD takes place against the dramatic landscape of Alderley Edge (changed to Mabley Ridge in the book to protect the innocent!) in the aftermath of the First World War when the area was populated by wealthy cotton manufacturers (rather than today’s premiership footballers).

The story begins when the body of a woman is discovered in a newly dug grave by Peter, a traumatised nine year old boy who lives in the cemetery lodge. Before the outbreak of war, Peter’s twin brother, Jimmy, was murdered and DI Albert Lincoln travelled up to Cheshire to investigate. The killer was never caught and this professional failure has haunted Albert ever since. Now he finds himself in Mabley Ridge again delving into the lives of the prosperous residents, and as he investigates the woman’s murder and the disappearance of her child he also closes in on the person who killed little Jimmy all those years before.

The action of THE BOY WHO LIVED WITH THE DEAD takes place in the fevered atmosphere of 1920, a time when the young want to shake off the horrors of war and live only for the present, even though the ghosts of war still linger and the traumas aren’t easily forgotten. And the murders aren’t the only things on Albert’s mind. He has his own tragedies to deal with – as well as the search for his lost son. I hope you enjoy THE BOY WHO LIVED WITH THE DEAD and I’ll be starting on Albert’s third and final case very soon.


In the early part of the month I was in Bristol attending CrimeFest. It was held in a new hotel this year but the convivial atmosphere was still the same and it was great to see lots of old friends there (and meet some new ones). I took part in a panel about writing multiple police series (something I know a lot about with my three separate detectives - Wesley, of course, as well as Joe Plantagenet and Albert Lincoln). The following day I moderated a panel about Ten Year Stretch, the anthology of short stories published last year to celebrate CrimeFest’s tenth birthday. I was lucky enough to have a fantastic panel (consisting of Zoe Sharp, Peter Guttridge, Caro Ramsay and Michael Stanley) and there was much hilarity as we discussed the perils and delights of short story writing.

The week after returning from Bristol I was on my travels again, this time to the North East to take part in a Murder Squad weekend at South Shields’ fabulous new library, The Word. Saturday was Readers’ Day with panels and talks – and in the evening I presented a brand new Murder Mystery I’d written especially for the occasion (The Case of the Late Cook). Sunday was Writers’ Day and I held two workshops on writing historic crime. It was a wonderful weekend and it was great to meet so many lovely readers (and aspiring writers) and also to work again with my Murder Squad colleagues, Ann Cleeves, Martin Edwards, Cath Staincliffe, Margaret Murphy (aka Ashley Dyer) and Chris Simms. A big thank you to Pauline Martin and all the staff at The Word for hosting the weekend and I hope it won’t be too long before I visit the lovely North East again! Here are a couple of pictures of the six of us at that gorgeous building, The Word.

MSattheWord MSattheWord2

In June I’m looking forward to visiting Suffolk for the first time. I was thrilled to be invited to speak at Slaughter in Southwold on 15th June. If you’re in the Southwold area, do come along. It would be great to meet you!

April 2019

Time flies when you’re writing. My apologies that it’s been so long since I last updated this diary. My aim is to do it each month but I’m afraid Wesley’s next investigation has got in the way.

I’ve been busy working on The Burial Circle for the past couple of months (I’m on the fifth draft at the moment) and I think it’s going well. My inspiration for this one was seeing some Victorian photographs taken of the dead. Apparently, because of the late nineteenth century preoccupation with death, this was a common practice and people kept the pictures as a memento of their loved one. However, to a crime writer this opens up a whole range of possibilities. Why have the photographs been hidden for more than a century? And what if they were taken by a killer who is in the habit of keeping souvenirs of his dark deeds?

The story also features a water powered textile mill because I’ve wanted to bring industrial archaeology into a story ever since I attended a talk on the history of Manchester’s many mills and visited Quarry Bank Mill in Styal, Cheshire. Devon has its own historic mills so I couldn’t resist centring the new book around this aspect of the county’s industrial past. This will be my twenty fourth Wesley Peterson novel and I still keep finding aspects of archaeology I haven’t dealt with yet!

I didn’t arrange many events for February or March (apart from one very enjoyable talk at Woolston Library in Warrington) because I knew I’d need plenty of time to work on the next book but from now on things are going to be busy!

I’ve just returned from a lovely weekend in the Lake District where the Crime Writers’ Association held their annual conference. It was a conference with a difference this year because a few of the attending writers (including myself) took part in events at local libraries. I visited Kendal Library along with historical mystery writer, Linda Stratmann and distinguished forensic psychologist Professor David Canter. Then, at the conference hotel itself, I was on a panel with Martin Edwards, Christine Poulson, Mike Craven and Peter Lovesey for an event called ‘Cupcakes and Crime’ (and, yes, there were cupcakes with the CWA daggers on the top). It was great to meet so many readers while I was at the conference (including a couple of lovely ladies who, it turned out, came from the same area of Liverpool as me) as well as enjoying a range of brilliant and informative talks and getting together with my fellow writers.


The big news for next month is that the paperback of THE BOY WHO LIVED WITH THE DEAD (the second book in my Albert Lincoln trilogy and the follow up to A HIGH MORTALITY OF DOVES) is out at last. I’ve already arranged a signing at Wilmslow Waterstones (near where the book is set) on Saturday 25th May and there may be more local signings too – do check my events page to find out.

May also sees me travelling to Bristol for CrimeFest where I’m on two panels. Then the week after that I’m in the North East with the Murder Squad at Murder at the Word in South Shields  http://theworduk.org/whats-on/murder-at-the-word-readers-day/ and http://theworduk.org/whats-on/murder-at-the-word-writers-day/ As well as the readers’ and writers’ days I’ve written a new Murder Mystery for the Saturday night https://www.southtyneside.gov.uk/article/65778/Murder-at-The-Word-Murder-Mystery-Night-but-Kate-Ellis. It’s going to be a very busy weekend but I’m looking forward to it – and to being back in that gorgeous part of the world.

Hope to meet a lot of my readers at the book signings, CrimeFest or Murder at the Word.

Happy reading!

February 2019

A (very belated) Happy New Year to everyone.

It’s always hard to start work again after all the excitement of the Christmas break but I needed to continue writing the first draft of my next Wesley book so I got to work as soon as New Year was over. I’m pleased to say that the first draft is now finished but that’s only the beginning of the process. There’ll be at least five more drafts of the book before I allow anybody to see it and the whole thing will probably change drastically between now and then. I’ve already changed my murderer once and, who knows, the guilty party may change again if I think it’ll make the book more intriguing and enjoyable. I have a golden rule of crime writing – if I begin to be bored with a book it’s a fair bet my readers will be too which means everything must be altered and polished until I’m happy that it’s going to keep everyone guessing to the end.

Keeping track of the plot and characters and making everything believable takes a lot of concentration and it’s always good to take a break – the trouble is it’s too easy to be lured away by the temptation of socialising. Probably one of the main characteristics a writer needs is self discipline!

When I haven’t been writing I’ve been busy organising events for later in the year. I’m looking forward to speaking in Warrington on 13th March and I’ll be at CrimeFest in Bristol in May. I’m on two panels there this year (one of which I’m moderating) and it’s always great fun to meet both readers and fellow authors there. To see what I’m going to be up to in 2019, please look at my events page.

I’ve kept my big news till last – on 4th February my 23rd Wesley Peterson mystery DEAD MAN’S LANE was published. I’ve just realised it’s my 30th published novel which is cause for great celebration. It certainly doesn’t seem twenty years since THE MERCHANT’S HOUSE was released into the world and I still enjoy writing as much now as I did then!

I celebrated the hardback release of DEAD MAN’S LANE with a book signing at Altrincham Waterstones and I’d like to thank Nick, Jarred and the staff there for making me so welcome. I do hope all my readers enjoy Wesley’s latest case which features the former home of an artist turned murderer and a strange tale of the ‘walking dead’.