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The Language of the Dead
A World War II Mystery
Stephen Kelly

Pegasus Crime
April 15, 2015 / ISBN 978-1605986968
Mystery/World War II

Reviewed by Linda Morelli


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.

Reviewer Linda Morelli is the award winning author of three published romance novels.
Reviewed 2015