Featured Author Review: Where All the Dead Lie by J.T. Ellison

Where All the Dead Lie
J.T. Ellison
ISBN-10: 0778312682

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The headshot didn’t kill Taylor Jackson. But it will haunt. In her showdown with the murderous Pretender, a bullet taken at close range severed the connection between Taylor’s thoughts and speech. Effectively mute, there’s no telling if her voice will ever come back. Trapped in silence, she is surrounded by ghosts– of the past, of friendships and trusts lost–of the specter of a lost faith in herself and her motives that night. When Memphis Highsmythe offers Taylor his home in the Scottish highlands to recuperate, her fiancé John Baldwin can’t refuse her excitement, no matter his distrust of the man. At first, Memphis’s drafty and singularly romantic castle seems the perfect place for healing. But shortly the house itself surrounds her like a menacing presence. As Taylor’s sense of isolation and vulnerability grows, so, too, does her grip on reality.

PTSD. Pills. Ghosts. Grudges. Someone or something is coming after Taylor. But is she being haunted by the dead…or hunted by the living?


At the beginning of Where All the Dead Lie opens, the serial killer whose death ended the last book, So Close the Hand of Death, is no longer around to continue his terror campaign. However, his legacy remains very much alive: Both Nashville homicide lieutenant Taylor Jackson and her closest friend, medical examiner Dr. Samantha Owens Loughley [“Sam”], are still traumatized by the events which led to his death at Taylor’s hand, one month earlier. Taylor suffers from a combination of PTSD and guilt, in addition to the aftermath of the gunshot to the head which she sustained, following which she was placed in a medically induced coma and didn’t waken for another week; Sam had been horribly tormented and brutalized.

The series should probably be read in order, as there are lots of back-story references and characters: The mysterious man known as Atlantic, the whole history of The Pretender [the aforementioned serial killer], etc. This book has an unexpected change of venue, from Taylor’s native city to the UK, when James “Memphis” Highsmythe, the Viscount Dulsie, invites her to spend the holidays in his castle, to help her recover from her emotional, physical and mental wounds. Since she is experiencing some unexpected feelings in her relationship with Dr. John Baldwin, to whom she is engaged (some friction has developed over an issue with his son, which is another part of the back-story) she decides to accept his invitation.

I have read several of the books in the Taylor Jackson series before, and once again I found Ellison’s writing style pleasant and easy to read. Her narrative was smooth, the characters were well-rounded and realistically flawed, and the moments of suspense and tension were highly effective. Even the character’s relationships and friendships were realistically sweet and, at times, gritty.

A large part of the book is focused on the Pretender, the psychotic serial killer who had been Taylor’s living nightmare. Although the Pretender can no longer physically harm her or her friends, Taylor’s mind is still obsessively replaying the past. She’s trying to see if there was something she did wrong, something she may have overlooked. It might be a bit hard for a new reader of the series to understand all the back-story with Taylor and the serial killer, but fans who have read more than one installment will have a great glimpse into the broken mind of Taylor Jackson.

The last part of the book switches focus to what was happening to Taylor in the moment, instead of in the past. That and the obvious quality of the writing and the likeable flawed heroine were enough to keep me on the edge of my seat, wondering what was going to happen to Taylor next.

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