Synopses & Reviews
A man lies hidden in an abandoned boat. Stifling his own screams, he draws a knife across his arm, letting the blood flow free. Soon he'll be dead - and life can begin again.
Three decades later, small-town newspaper reporter Philip Dryden is experiencing a cold, bitter Christmas on the Fens. Dryden's wife, Laura, is emerging from years in a coma, unsure if she wants to go on living. Meanwhile, people are freezing to death, among them Declan McIlroy, a 39 year old loner found dead in his flat with the windows thrown open. The police rule the death a suicide, but Dryden has his doubts - especially when he finds the body of Declan's best friend Joe frozen within a shell of ice on the doorstep of his secluded farmhouse.
At the same time, Dryden is investigating allegations of abuse laid against a Catholic orphanage - a touchy subject, due to his own Catholic upbringing. The incidents seem unrelated until Dryden discovers that Declan was one of the victims. Could his death have been part of a cover-up?
Soon, Dryden is picking his way along a disturbing trail of cruelty and betrayal to a brilliantly executed crime, and to a chilling, half-remembered mystery from his own childhood.
"Kelly's well-written if convoluted fourth outing for Cambridgeshire journalist Philip Dryden (after 2005's The Moon Tunnel) opens with a gruesome scene at the Dolphin Holiday Camp in August 1974, then shifts to a record-breaking cold snap 31 years later and a terminally ill man's murder. Dryden gets embroiled in the mystery by reporting on another death, that of landscape painter Declan McIlroy, ostensibly due to the cold. But the two corpses share a common past, and the search for the truth puts Dryden on the trail of a bizarre murder case dating back to that summer in 1974. Kelly's prose is insightful, but the complexities of his story can be confusing. Dryden's backstory his invalid wife, Laura, is recovering from a coma; refusing to drive himself, he relies on the delightfully quirky cabbie Humph may be challenging for newcomers to decipher." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Quirky, emotionally intelligent crime fiction that leaves the reader hungry for more." - Val McDermid
"A masterful stylist, Kelly crafts sharp, crisp sentences so pure, so true, they qualify as modern poetry. The cold, bleak landscape of the fens seems to seep through the paper and chill the fingers turning the pages." - Publishers Weekly
"A sparkling star, newly risen in the crime fiction firmament." - Colin Dexter
"Kelly enlivens his tale with a richly atmospheric setting, sharp contemporary characters, and an often biting knack for capturing the essence of people." - The Washington Post
"The setting is chilly, the writing is good." - Chicago Tribune
"Intriguing characters and locale and wryly believable newsroom background." - Kirkus Reviews
In this fourth entry in Kelly's highly praised series, small-town newspaper reporter Philip Dryden's wife Laura is slowly emerging from her coma, but she's not sure she wants to go on living. Meanwhile, Dryden follows a trail of betrayals to a brilliantly executed crime--and a half-remembered mystery from his own past.
About the Author
, whose father was a detective for Scotland Yard, previously worked as a journalist and education correspondent for the Financial Times
. He lives in Ely with the biographer Midge Gillies and their young daughter. His debut, The Water Clock,
was shortlisted for the Crime Writers' Association John Creasey Memorial Dagger for the best first crime novel of 2002, and in 2004 he was very highly commended for the CWA Dagger in the Library, which is awarded to "the author of crime fiction whose work is giving the greatest enjoyment to readers."