Review: The Night Thief by Joy Ellis

Not as well-known as Ruth Rendell, Dorothy Sayers or P D James, Joy Ellis is one of the many East Anglian crime writers. She writes police procedural, setting her stories in the Lincolnshire Fens. She has three sets of characters, who occasionally overlap: Nikki Galena and her sergeant and lover, Joseph Easter, and Rowan Jackman and Marie Evans (his – platonic – much-loved sergeant), and more recently Matt Ballard, the older inspector who continues even after his retirement.

The Night Thief features Jackman and Evans. The story revolves around an adult somnambulist (sleepwalker), who is able even to drive his car whilst asleep. A patient of Laura Archer, also the police psychologist and Jackman’s partner, he appears increasingly distraught after each episode and Laura herself finds consultations with him disturbing. At the same time, there are occurring a series of break-ins in which the burglar steals just a photograph of a boy about then. But then the perp goes on to commit murder, of a loveable lady of ninety.

I love crime fiction, I’ve enjoyed Joy Ellis’s books in the past and this one I couldn’t stop reading. What carried me along was the camaraderie between the police officers and the throbbing storyline, but I get the impression that Joy Ellis, who has 25 books to her name, rushed this one. There are occasional typos, like the PC who appeared as PC Burton and PC Baron on the same page. Additionally, although the plot contained many riveting twists, it didn’t tie up as tidily as in her earlier books. Cannot say more without giving away spoilers, but I finished reading without really knowing why the somnambulist did what he did.

But don’t let me put you off. This was a regular page-turner for me. I’m not the publisher’s editor (where was he/she?) and the plot, the characters and the setting were basically okay. Do we readers demand that every t is crossed and every i dotted?

(Sorry, no pictures. I don’t have permission to use this author’s cover art.)

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