Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Death Wore White; Jim Kelly

I found this book by happy coincidence. I read about it via the Guardian book section and made a note of it, less than ten days later it was listed on our library 'new acquisitions' email. So I requested it- first one on the list! Here in the US this is a 2009 release from St. Martin's. It's a police procedural and puzzle mystery set in contemporary England. More on the procedural and characterization and less purely puzzle, but that element is still there. It is, in a word fabulous- go & read it.

Peter Shaw is a youngish veteran police officer (10 years) in a small British coastal town. His partner is George Valentine, who is significantly nearer to retirement age. George and Peter's father, Jack, were disgraced twelve years earlier. An event which led to Jack's premature death a year later and the near total ruination of George's career. Peter and George are on the beach looking for illegal barrels of toxic waste when the stumble upon a body in an inflatable boat rocking in the surf, shortly afterward they find a line of stranded vehicles most of which contain annoyed passengers- except for one, which contains a very dead passenger. The weather is prated on endlessly, blizzard conditions. Remember that, will you?

Peter is the kind of person who enters his father's profession to try and understand him better. He's also the kind of person who marries a woman the exact opposite of one his parents would approve of- a trait that endeared him to me, lol. :) Peter, naturally, feels compelled to revisit the scene of his father's last case and quizzes George about it. George is having some trouble adjusting to being ordered about by a stripling and doesn't seem inclined to change his methodology to make Peter's working life easier, not that he should anyway. George is a widower who has his routines that do nothing to hide his loneliness or rootlessness. He knows policing though, and Peter does well to remember that.

Despite being slow to start, once Mr. Kelly has a head of steam there's no stopping the momentum of his story. It's nicely balanced between figuring out the murders and exploring the personality and methodology and private lives of Peter and George. I'm hopeful that the next book moves a little quicker in the beginning since there is groundwork laid. Mr. Kelly has another series featuring sleuth Philip Dryden, the most recent one of which was released in paperback in September of 2008.


Ms. Bookish said...

This sounds like a good read - I'm always on the lookout for a good police procedural!

Bookwormom said...

It was very good, I'm looking forward to the next Shaw-Valentine book.

Happy Reading~Amanda