Stalker on the Fens by Joy Ellis


DI Nikki Galena’s friend Helen Brook is involved in a serious accident where she is trapped in a collapsed cellar. After her hard-won recovery, Helen is still getting flashbacks to a man she says was down there with her and who confessed to a murder. But no trace of this man can be found.

Then Helen tells Nikki that someone is watching her. But is all this in her friend’s imagination and part of her post-traumatic stress?

And why is Stephen Cox back in town? He’s the villain who tore Nikki’s life apart and he seems to have returned for revenge.

Before long the whole town is on the verge of hysteria and her friend’s fear will lead Nikki and Joseph on a very dangerous trail.

I am a late arrival in the Nikki Galena series, only discovering them recently thanks to Netgalley.  My first introduction, Killer on the Fens, was book four and I really enjoyed it and couldn’t wait when I saw this next instalment to get stuck in.  I am pleased to say that all the reasons I enjoyed the first book are still here.

Nikki is an interesting character, a more thoughtful and less spontaneous detective than you find in other crime fiction with a female lead, and more into team work.  I liked this about her and her positive relationship with the other detectives, especially Joseph – who is also her best friend and neighbour.  Although I don’t know all their back story, it seems like they have been through a lot together and they have a strong, trusting, relationship.

Joseph is pretty solid too, as are the rest of the team, working to discover just who is stalking Helen and why.  It seems linked to the accident a year before but is that a red herring?  Is something else going on in Helen’s life – or that of her partner who never seems to be around when she needs him – that is actually putting her life in danger.  It really is hard to tell as you read it just where the story will lead.

Which brings me to the next reason I liked the book, nothing is as it seems and there are twists I didn’t see coming and that turn the story on it’s head about a third of the way through (and which I won’t share with you because of spoilers).  A similar thing happened in Killer on the Fens and as a reader I like this – it stops me getting complacent and also, despite the subject smile because I have been slightly “got”.

The only downside here is that, unlike the last book I read – which could have been a standalone – I did feel I was missing something here because of the Stephen Cox angle.  He’s obviously done something to Nikki and Joseph in the past but I don’t know what it is and, whilst he doesn’t appear prominently, he is there – in the background – and I didn’t know quite why.  I am not sure if he was needed as the central story was strong enough on it’s own and his being there distracted me somewhat from the main story.

That’s the downside of joining a series four books in though and my own fault in a way – I should have gone back to the beginning after reading Killer on the Fens.  But I didn’t so I will now have to live with the niggling questions in the back of my mind until I get to them.  That said, though, it wouldn’t stop me reading more books and it definitely wouldn’t stop me recommending this one.

Joy Ellis is a good writer.  Her characters are strong and the location adds to the tension – the fens are a dark, brooding, lonely place the way she writes them and not somewhere I would want to be with a stalker out to get me.  It all leads to me liking this one a lot.  Well worth a read!


note: I received a copy of this book from netgalley in return for a fair and honest review.  All thoughts, feeling and opinions are my own.