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I found this author when looking for books set in the Cambridgeshire fens.

From Fantastic Fiction:

Jim Kelly is a journalist and education correspondent for the Financial Times. He lives in Ely with the biographer Midge Gilles and their young daughter. The Water Clock, his first novel, was shortlisted for the CWA John Creasey Award for best first crime novel of 2002.


I enjoyed The Water Clock, not least because it was very firmly set in the area in which I was holidaying, and important parts of the action took place in Ely cathedral (or rather, on the roof thereof) and in Stretham Old Engine (next door to the cottage we were staying in).


Kelly's 'detective' in this series is loca ljournalist Philip Dryden. He has a wife who is in a coma, but manages to be included in the action, and his 'sidekick is an indolent taxi driver. There is an occasional love interest, a colleague, but Dryden's conscience gives him trouble over this.


The plot is quite convoluted, and the reader's suspicions are directed at several suspects - and it isn't the most obvious candidate.


Sometimes while setting up Dryden's character Kelly tells us too much about him, rather than revealing it in the action, but once the action is underway I didn't notice any other distractions.


I don't know how much I would have enjoyed it if I hadn't been in the location, but I'd be quite happy to try another of Kelly's novels on a future occasion.

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  • 11 years later...

Published in about 2002 this is the beginning of a series set near Ely featuring a local journalist, Philip Dryden who has a wife in a coma following a car accident two years previously.  It’s the depth of winter and freezing cold.  A car is found dumped in a drainage ditch and there is a body in the boot which appears to be linked to a violent robbery on World Cup day in 1966. Shortly afterwards a corpse that has been there for at least thirty years is found on the roof of Ely cathedral. 

Philip believes the two might be connected and is soon being warned off investigating any further but his real obsession is finding out who caused the accident that immobilized his wife.

The investigative part of the story is competent but not outstanding, what really makes this book stand out is the sense of place, he makes them evocative, beguiling and very cold! I barely know the Fens but I almost feel that I’ve been there. I’m really looking forward to reading more in the series and the only really annoying thing is that I got this at a local twice yearly charity book sale and could have got the first five, I only bought two. Oh well, he’s written another series too so I’ve got loads to look forward to.

I have no idea who suggested that I should look out for Jim Kelly, but whoever they are, thank you.

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Great review, I discovered Jim Kelly through the now defunct mail order company The Book People and have  this book and 2 others still to be read.  The location really appeals to me too, I've been to Ely a few times and driven through the Fens once or twice and they're an interesting location.  I think he's written quite a lot of other books too.

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  • 2 weeks later...
  • 2 weeks later...
On 23/07/2021 at 15:35, Madeleine said:

Did you ever go to the Ferryboat Inn for fish and chips?  Stayed near there years ago with friends.

It was mid 80's when I lived there Madeleine. I think I must have visited it but I can't remember for definite. Drink was taken rather frequently back then which does tend to affect my memory of those days 😀 

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