The Skeleton Key by Erin Kelly

Today Mandie is taking a look at The Skeleton Key by Erin Kelly. I read and loved this book last year and you can read my thoughts right here. Mandie was suitably intrigued after hearing about the book at Capital Crime so is making this her first Erin Kelly read. Here’s what it’s all about:

Source: Owned Copy
Release Date: 01 September 2022
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton

About the Book


Summer, 2021. Nell has come home at her family’s insistence to celebrate an anniversary. Fifty years ago, her father wrote The Golden Bones. Part picture book, part treasure hunt, Sir Frank Churcher created a fairy story about Elinore, a murdered woman whose skeleton was scattered all over England. Clues and puzzles in the pages of The Golden Bones led readers to seven sites where jewels were buried – gold and precious stones, each a different part of a skeleton. One by one, the tiny golden bones were dug up until only Elinore’s pelvis remained hidden.

The book was a sensation. A community of treasure hunters called the Bonehunters formed, in frenzied competition, obsessed to a dangerous degree. People sold their homes to travel to England and search for Elinore. Marriages broke down as the quest consumed people. A man died. The book made Frank a rich man. Stalked by fans who could not tell fantasy from reality, his daughter, Nell, became a recluse.

But now the Churchers must be reunited. The book is being reissued along with a new treasure hunt and a documentary crew are charting everything that follows. Nell is appalled, and terrified. During the filming, Frank finally reveals the whereabouts of the missing golden bone. And then all hell breaks loose.

From the bestselling author of He Said/She Said and Watch Her Fall, this is a taut, mesmerising novel about a daughter haunted by her father’s legacy . . .

Mandie’s Thoughts

I have heard so many good things about The Skeleton Key that I decided that I had to find out for myself and I am so glad that I did. This is a book that packs in so much mystery, that the reader gets one hell of a ride from start to finish.

Nell Churcher has been hounded by the book The Golden Bones written by her father all her life so it was with some hesitation she returned home for the 50th celebrations where the hunt for the final piece of Elinore. With the “Bonehunters” back out in force it was always going to be questionable if everything was going to go to plan, but nobody expected what actually happened. 

The Churchers and the Lallys are a close group. They live next door to each other and two of the children even married. On the face of it the friendship seems very close but in reality there are secrets and lies that always bubble under the surface that over the course of the book are revealed to the reader and the realities of what tie them together are not quite as nice as you would expect and you could only describe the relationships as totally toxic.

The book flits between the past and the present which I love as it always seems to make the story move quickly. I like dipping in and out of the backstory as it explains the events of the present perfectly. I loved the characters (even the ones that really didn’t have any redeeming qualities). The self-centeredness of Frank Churcher was believable to the point that you wondered why his family stuck with him and put up with his behaviour. The more I read the more I understood why Nell had distanced herself from them all and the baggage they brought with them even if it looked like it may cost her the one thing she truly wanted.

I will admit that I didn’t want to put this book down and resented every single interruption from my family. As the truth was revealed and just how many people had a hand in the outcome was a surprise although when you get to know each character and the lengths they will go to in order to protect themselves maybe it shouldn’t be. The Skeleton Key has got to be one of my favourite books so far this year and was just the different kind of book from what I have been reading that I needed.

About the Author

Erin Kelly is the Sunday Times bestselling author of The Poison Tree, The Sick Rose, The Burning Air, The Ties That Bind, He Said/She Said, Stone Mothers/We Know You Know, Watch Her Fall and Broadchurch: The Novel, inspired by the mega-hit TV series. In 2013, The Poison Tree became a major ITV drama and was a Richard & Judy Summer Read in 2011. He Said/She Said spent six weeks in the top ten in both hardback and paperback, was longlisted for the Theakston’s Old Peculier crime novel of the year award, and selected for both the Simon Mayo Radio 2 and Richard & Judy Book Clubs. She has worked as a freelance journalist since 1998 and written for the Guardian, The Sunday Times, Daily Mail, New Statesman, Red, Elle and Cosmopolitan. Born in London in 1976, she lives in north London with her husband and daughters.

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