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Journalist Philip Dryden is shocked to be informed by police that his father has been killed in a car accident – he drowned during the fenland floods of 1977, 35 years before. At the same time, two unrelated cases are demanding Dryden’s professional attention: a body riddled with bullets found hanging in the middle of a lettuce field, and a couple protesting that the local council has buried their baby daughter in a pauper’s grave without permission. As Dryden pieces the clues together, he realizes that the three...
Journalist Philip Dryden is shocked to be informed by police that his father has been killed in a car accident – he drowned during the fenland floods of 1977, 35 years before. At the same time, two unrelated cases are demanding Dryden’s professional attention: a body riddled with bullets found hanging in the middle of a lettuce field, and a couple protesting that the local council has buried their baby daughter in a pauper’s grave without permission. As Dryden pieces the clues together, he realizes that the three cases may be related after all . . .
Even if they never came up with such a diabolical plot, long-winded colleagues could well take example from the generosity and economy with which Kelly (Death’s Door, 2012, etc.) spins his web
“Kelly makes superb use of Fens geography and history in an entry that should give new life to the Philip Dryden series.”
Posted June 1, 2013
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This was a book that I enjoyed immensely, despite the fact that at times it moved rather slowly for me, probably because many of its frames of reference were unfamiliar, coming as I am from the “other side of the pond.” Even extending to the title, although I supposed it was meant to evoke the opposite of sunrise, and is defined by the author at one point as the moment when one sees “the first star clear in the sky.”
Philip Dryden had been a Fleet Street reporter, a job he’d left for one on the local paper to be near his wife. I found him to be a very original protagonist, one made very human and vulnerable when, on the opening page, he is introduced to the reader as the father of an infant son, following somewhat traumatic circumstances: His wife “had been badly injured in a car accident a decade earlier - - trapped in a coma for more than two years. She would never completely recover. They’d been told a child was impossible.” But, almost miraculously, here he was.
Also in the opening pages, Philip is told by the police that his father has just been killed in an auto accident, the body burned beyond recognition, only the vehicle itself providing the identity of the owner. This is a second near-impossibility: His father had died 35 years before, drowned during the floods of 1977, the body swept away and never found. The thought that he might have survived and simply chosen not to return to his family is, to say the least, stunning.
There are other story lines here, and a faint suspicion allowed that somehow they may be linked.. A West African man, seeking asylum in England but being forced to return to Niger; has been refused, without explanation, the return of the body of his infant daughter, buried, he is told, in an unmarked grave, and he and his wife seek Dryden’s help. Then there is the mystery behind the murder of a local man whose already dead body had been hung from an irrigator in an open field. When another murder occurs, a very personal one for Dryden, his efforts to solve these crimes are redoubled.
The novel is very well-written, suspenseful, and with a totally unexpected ending. This is the sixth book in the series, but the first one I’d read. I was happy to discover it, and shall definitely look for the previous entries. This one is certainly recommended.