When a reader contacts local newspaper The Crow to report a rare sighting of the Boreal or so-called 'Funeral' owl, the paper's editor Philip Dryden has a sense of foreboding. For the Funeral Owl is said to be an omen of death. It's already proving to be one of the most eventful weeks in The Crow's history. The body of a Chinese man has been discovered hanging from a cross in a churchyard in Brimstone Hill in the West Fens. The inquest into the deaths of two tramps found in a flooded ditch has unearthed some shocking findings. A series of metal thefts is plaguing the area. And PC Stokely Powell has requested Dryden's help in solving a ten-year-old cold case: a series of violent art thefts culminating in a horrifying murder. As Dryden investigates, he uncovers some curious links between the seemingly unrelated cases: it would appear the sighting of the Funeral Owl is proving prophetic in more ways than one.
|Publisher:||Severn House Publishers|
|Series:||Philip Dryden Series , #7|
|Sold by:||Barnes & Noble|
|File size:||1 MB|
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It is a fundamental precept of the journalistic trade that a reporter should never be part of the story. Apparently this precept doesn’t apply to Phillip Dryden, the editor of the local newspaper The Crow and former Fleet Street reporter. Time and again throughout this latest story in the mystery series, he not only is a participant in the story, writing first-hand, reports his discovery of a body of a Chinese man hanging from a cross of Jesus near Christ Church, in an explosion of an illegal still, in which three men, two Chinese and a Pole, when he is nearby, or several other crimes where he is either in the middle, aiding the police in analyzing the event, or solving it. The police theorize the original murder and subsequent occurrences in a nearby town are the result of a turf war, either between opposing tongs or a splinter group, each seeking control of illegal harvesting and black market sale of metal obtained from various sources, including lead ripped off the roof of the church. Somehow, Dryden finds links between the supposed disparate murders and other odd events. Dryden is a hardworking editor and reporter, ever on the go. The writing is sometimes slow and mired in Anglicism’s, but on the whole the plotting is sharp and there is plenty of human interest. And, to top it off, the Fens geography and weather, together with a touch of the area’s history, increase the reader’s interest, especially the intimate descriptions of dust storms a la the 1930s Midwest, and the novel is recommended.
The Funeral Owl was another strong entry in the Philip Dryden series. Jim Kelly continues to write mysteries with clever red herrings and unexpected plot twists. While I was suspicious of the character who ultimately turned out to be the murderer, I was completely wrong about that character's motivation and yet, once Kelly (through Dryden) explained it, it made perfect sense. In The Funeral Owl, Kelly also devoted a substantial amount of time to developing the personalities of the three main characters: Philip; his wife Laura; and his friend Humph. An entire subplot focused on Humph's relationship with his daughter Grace; we learned more about Philip's water phobia (which, from the previous Philip Dryden book I had read, had seemed to arise solely from the car accident in which Laura was injured); and Laura's character gained depth from both her handling of her residual physical limitations and her new status as a mother. I look forward to seeing all of these characters grow in subsequent books. I received a free copy of The Funeral Owl through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.