Is the Doll Strangler back? Or is a copycat killer on the loose...?
Singmass Close has a sinister past. Reputedly haunted by the ghosts of children, in the 50s it was the hunting ground of the Doll Strangler, a ruthless killer who was never brought to justice. Now DI Joe Plantagenet wonders whether a copycat killer is at work when the strangled body of teenager Natalie Parkes is found in the same close, a mutilated doll lying by her side.
With the recent disappearance of a young female model and an escaped convict at large, this new, horrific murder stretches Joe's team to their limit. But as the bodies start mounting up and Joe's questioning brings him closer to the real strangler, he comes to suspect a shockingly creepy connection between all three cases...
In Ellis's run-of-the-mill second procedural to feature North Yorkshire Det. Insp. Joe Plantaganet (after 2009's Seeking the Dead), Plantagenet, who carries with him the de rigueur tragic backstory (i.e., the loss of his wife in an accident, the murder of his partner), looks into a potentially explosive case the strangulation of a young woman, eventually identified as Natalie Parkes, whose left big toe was severed postmortem. Beside her corpse was a porcelain doll, mutilated in the same fashion. Incredibly, the police only learn of similar murders in the 1950s committed by a killer nicknamed the Doll Strangler of Singmass Close, who was never apprehended, by reading a true-crime book. A subplot concerning a na ve would-be model who finds herself abducted and forced to care for an ailing elderly woman provides a clumsy link to the police investigation. The solution to Parkes's murder will strike many as coming out of left field.