Wednesday, March 9, 2011
Death Wore White by Jim Kelly
The name Jim Kelly sounds American to me, in a way that the Australian name Ned Kelly does not. But author Jim Kelly is British, and in the tradition of the finest British mystery writers, he has produced a mystery worthy of a series with Death wore White. The descriptions of the two lead investigators on a triple homicide are strong and fully-fleshed, containing those rogue contradictions in character that make the action realistic, and interesting. Other characters are quickly sketched but contain the essence of personality and form. The author uses words the way his youthful Detective Inspector Shaw uses his Forensic Art kit, constructing faces, lives, motives from the heap of choices that surround us.
Death wore White is complicated, and filled with the feints and weaves that a complex set of family relationships can throw at someone observing from the outside. But the coast of Britain in winter, protected by Her Majesty’s Finest, is a fine place to observe the insecurities and failures of the most well-meaning, and the unexpected strengths and grace of the least among us. What I liked best, I think, was the ending. The straight up-and-down by-the-book young DI does something that might seem out of character for him, but not for his partner DS Valentine, nor for his dead and discredited father. So we look forward to the next development in the series.