Death Wore White by Jim Kelly | Hardcover | Barnes & Noble
Death Wore White

Death Wore White

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by Jim Kelly

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At 5.15 p.m. Harvey Ellis was trapped - stranded in a line of eight cars by a blizzard on a Norfolk coast road. At 8.15 p.m. Harvey Ellis was dead - viciously stabbed at the wheel of his truck. And his killer has achieved the impossible: striking without being seen, and without leaving a single footprint in the snow . . . For DI Peter Shaw and DS George


At 5.15 p.m. Harvey Ellis was trapped - stranded in a line of eight cars by a blizzard on a Norfolk coast road. At 8.15 p.m. Harvey Ellis was dead - viciously stabbed at the wheel of his truck. And his killer has achieved the impossible: striking without being seen, and without leaving a single footprint in the snow . . . For DI Peter Shaw and DS George Valentine it's only the start of an infuriating investigation. The crime scene is melting, the murderer has vanished, the witnesses are dropping like flies. And the body count is on the rise . . .

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

Twists pile on twists in Kelly's superb whodunit, the possible first in a series. Soon after Det. Insp. Peter Shaw and Det. Sgt. George Valentine, who had been the partner of Shaw's disgraced policeman father, stumble on a corpse on an inflatable raft on a Norfolk beach, the pair are stuck in a blizzard, their car one of many vehicles blocked by a fallen tree. During this mishap, someone kills Harvey Ellis, the driver nearest the obstruction, with a chisel blow to the eye and manages to escape without leaving traces in the snow. Other bodies surface after the police extricate themselves from the scene of Ellis's murder. While Shaw and his team try to untangle the lies told them by every witness they encounter, he also tries to redeem his late father's reputation by reopening the child murder case that brought his father down. Kelly (The Skeleton Man), winner of the CWA Dagger in the Library Award, maintains the suspense throughout. (June)

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Library Journal

Detective Inspector Peter Shaw and Detective Sargeant George Valentine are on a Norfolk beach looking for a drum filled with toxic waste when they stumble upon a murdered man in a boat. At the same time, a sudden snowstorm traps several cars on a coastal road, and the lead driver is found stabbed to death. There are no footprints leading to or from the car, and the stranded motorists are a motley crew with no apparent reasons to kill the man. Are the two deaths connected? Kelly, winner of the 2006 CWA Dagger in the Library award for his reporter Philip Dryden series (The Skeleton Man, The Coldest Blood), launches a new series introducing two officers often at odds with each other: Valentine, a rising star in the West Norfolk Constabulary until he made a life-changing mistake, and Shaw, the youngest DI on the force and the son of Valentine's former partner. VERDICT Kelly demonstrates his mastery at creating a convoluted puzzle that must be sorted out by even more complicated detectives. An excellent choice for fans of British police procedurals and "locked-room" mysteries.

—Jo Ann Vicarel
Kirkus Reviews
An impossible crime is just one of the outrages confronting DI Peter Shaw, here partnered with old-timer George Valentine. The detour leads to a side road that leads to a felled tree that leads to a lineup of eight blocked vehicles. The first driver is dead, a screwdriver in his eye. When another driver walks over to him, he's so horrified that his heart gives out, and Shaw, hurrying over from examining a drum full of toxic waste and a dead body buffeted on a raft half a mile away, has to radio for help. Detail-oriented Shaw's opposite is George Valentine, his deceased father's former partner, who's waiting out his retirement and the bad reputation the pair got for blowing the Tessier case years ago. Though there'll be another violent death, the first one presents the most perplexing clues. No footprints lead to or from the murdered man's door except those of the heart-attack victim. The passenger who presumably nibbled an apple has vanished. Detour signs have come and gone without official sanction. But Shaw, who had a problematic relationship with his father, is determined not only to solve this new mystery but to resurrect the old Tessier case and rehabilitate the old man's memory. Stunning in plot and delivery, with fluid, visceral prose. Few puzzle solvers will unravel this one before the wind-up, and awards committees will be queuing up to honor this second case for Shaw (The Skeleton Man, 2008).

Product Details

St. Martin's Press
Publication date:
A Detective Shaw Mystery Series
Edition description:
First Edition
Product dimensions:
5.90(w) x 8.30(h) x 1.40(d)

Read an Excerpt


Death Wore White


Monday, 9 February

The Alfa Romeo ran a lipstick-red smear across a sepia landscape. Snow flecked the sands at the edge of the crimped waters of the Wash. To the landward side lay the saltmarsh, a weave of winter white around stretches of cold black water. And out at sea a convoy of six small boats were caught in a stunning smudge of purple and gold where the sun was setting.

The sports car nudged the speed limit as Sarah Baker-Sibley watched the first flake of snow fall on the windscreen. She swept it aside with a single swish of the wipers and punched the lighter into the dashboard, her lips counting to ten, a cigarette held ready between her teeth.

Ten seconds. She thrummed her fingers on the leather-bound steering wheel.

It was two minutes short of five o’clock and the Alfa’s headlights were waking up the catseyes. She pulled the lighter free of its holder. The ringlet of heated wire seemed to lift her mood and she laughed to herself, drawing in the nicotine.

A spirograph of ice had encroached on the windscreen, so she turned the heating up to maximum. The indicator showed the outside temperature at o°C, then briefly – 1°C. She dropped her speed to 50 mph and checked the rear-view mirror for following traffic: she’d been overtaken once – the vehicle was still ahead of her by half a mile – and there were lights behind, but closer, a hundred yards or less.

She swished more snowflakes off the windscreen. Attached to the dashboard by a sucker was a little picture frame holding a snapshot of a girl with hair down to her waist, wearing a swimsuit on a sun-drenched beach. She touched the image as if it were an icon.

Rounding a sharp right bend she saw tail lights ahead again for a few seconds. And a sign, luminous, regulation black on yellow, in the middle of the carriageway, an AA insignia in the top left corner.



An arrow pointed bluntly to the left — seaward down a narrow unmetalled road.

‘Sod it.’ She hit the steering wheel with the heel of her palm. Slowing the Alfa, she looked at her watch: 5.01 p.m. She had to pick her daughter up at 5.30 outside the school. She was always there, like clockwork. That was one of the big pluses of owning her own business: she kept her own time. And that’s why she always took the old coast road, not the new dual carriageway, because this way there were never any traffic jams, even in the summer. Just an open road. Once, perhaps twice, she’d got caught up at the shop and phoned ahead to say she’d be late. Jillie had walked home then, but Sarah didn’t want to let her down. Not tonight, when snow was forecast. She’d make it in time, even with the diversion, as long as nothing else delayed her.

Looking in the rear-view again she saw that the following car was close, so she put the Alfa in first and swung it off the coast road onto the snow-covered track. The headlights raked the trees as she turned the car, but she failed to see that they fleetingly lit a figure, stock-still, dressed in a full-length dark coat flecked with snow, the head – hooded – turned away. But she did see a road sign.

Siberia Belt

Ahead were the tail lights of the vehicle she had been following. There was a sudden silence as a snow flurry struck, muffling the world outside. The wind returned, thudding against the offside, fist blows deadened by a boxer’s glove. She searched the rear-view mirror for the comforting sight of headlights behind. There were none. But the tail lights ahead were still visible: warm, glowing and safe. She pressed on quickly in pursuit.

DEATH WORE WHITE. Copyright © 2008 by Jim Kelly.

Meet the Author

Jim Kelly is the author of The Fire Baby, The Moon Tunnel, The Coldest Blood, The Skeleton Man and The Water Clock, which was shortlisted for the CWA John Creasey Award. He was awarded the CWA Dagger in the Library in 2006, for the series 'which gives greatest enjoyment to crime readers'. He lives in Ely.

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Death Wore White 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
TheReadingWriter More than 1 year ago
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.
harstan More than 1 year ago
In Norfolk, partners Detective Inspector Peter Shaw and Detective Sergeant George Valentine find a corpse on an inflatable raft on a beach. However, the pair cannot do much as a blizzard has closed many roads. A detour fails due to a downed tree causing an accident involving eight vehicles. -------------- The first driver Harvey Ellis is dead with a screwdriver buried into his eye. Whoever killed Harvey escaped leaving no footprints in the snow unless the driver of the second car did it; but he died at the scene from an apparent heart attack. More corpses are found and no witness interviewed by the cops seems to be forthright with the truth. While the pair investigate that case, Peter also opens up the cold case Tessier inquiry that destroyed his later father's reputation as a cop and took down his partner George too.------------- Loaded with twists that make San Francisco's Lombard Street appear to be a straight line, DEATH WORE WHITE is a tremendous police procedural that will keep readers up late wondering what next and whodunit. The story line is fast-paced from the discovery of the first corpse and never slows down until several more bodies accumulate. Kim Kelly provides one of the year's best mysteries and hopefully brings back his dynamic police duo.------------- Harriet Klausner