Detective Chief Inspector Lamb is called in to investigate
the death of an elderly farmhand, a loner whose brutal death
has all the markings of a witch slaying. The dead man was
believed to be a witch by most of the citizens of Quimby,
who avoided any contact with the old man. His only friendship
was with a young autistic man with a talent for drawing cryptic
images. Then a young pregnant woman is slain and a local drunkard
is brutally killed. Lamb suspects that the autistic boy's
drawings hold the key to the killer's identity.
DCI Lamb's investigation is somewhat hampered by the arrival
of a specter from Lamb's past, DI Harry Rivers, an old war
buddy who blames Lamb for his friend's death and competes
with Lamb in solving the case. Further complicating matters
for Lamb is his growing concern for his daughter Vera's safety.
She works at the civil defense offices of Quimby's parish
council, and the German planes frequently bomb that area.
Stephen Kelly's first murder mystery puts the reader into
Great Britain in the summer of 1940 during the height of the
German Blitz. As Lamb works to solve the particularly grisly
murder, the swirl of war time life and death struggle occurs
in the skies above. As a police procedural novel, there is
enough suspense and a parade of interesting characters that
kept me engaged until the end.
Much like Foyle's War and J. Robert Jane's crime novels set
in World War II occupied Paris, this novel reveals that ordinary
crimes occur in the midst of war. I particularly enjoyed the
well-written plot and engrossing mystery that kept me glued
to the book, and especially the insights into the daily routine
of life in a small English village.
Reviewer's Note: Stephen
Kelly worked for nearly thirty years as a newspaper reporter,
editor and columnist. His work has appeared in the Baltimore
Sun, The Washington Post, Baltimore Magazine, The Columbia
Flier and Howard County Times.