Death Watch by Jim Kelly

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Death Watch by Jim Kelly

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Category: Crime
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Luci Davin
Reviewed by Luci Davin
Summary: Twisty police procedural set in Kings Lynn, Norfolk, where two detectives investigate the incineration of a hospital worker and the link with the disappearance of his twin sister 18 years before. There is also an interesting cold case subplot. A good read despite a far-fetched plot.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 464 Date: February 2010
Publisher: Penguin
ISBN: 978-0141035987

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In 1992, 15 year old Norma Jean Judd disappeared from her home. Eighteen years later to the day, her twin brother Bryan's body is found in the hospital incinerator where he worked. There is no evidence to suggest accident or suicide, and the police quickly treat it as a murder. They not only need to find out who did it, but to work out the link between Bryan's murder and the disappearance and presumed death of his twin sister. The investigation takes them into the family and a nearby hostel for homeless men.

This is Jim Kelly's seventh crime novel, and his second in a series featuring police detective duo Peter Shaw and George Valentine, set in Kings Lynn, Norfolk. The twists and turns of the plot kept me reading on and I devoured all 456 pages in a couple of days. It was a good read, but not quite as good as the first book in this series, Death Wore White.

As in its predecessor, the murder investigation uncovers all kinds of goings on in the Judd family and on the street where they live, as Shaw and Valentine try to find out just how close to home Bryan's murder was. However, in this instalment there were several aspects of the plot I found a bit implausible. Many of the characters seemed very unpleasant and shifty, and not caring about most of them made it harder for me to suspend my disbelief.

Despite these reservations about the book, there is plenty in it to enjoy. I do like the characters of the detective duo and the sometimes difficult relationship between them. DS Valentine is much older than his senior colleague DI Shaw, and worked with his father (now dead) until a disastrous murder case ended DCI Shaw's career while Valentine was demoted, under suspicion of trying to create evidence to 'prove' their case. Shaw and Valentine are still trying to find fresh evidence and get the case reopened, so they can clear the names of the detectives involved. Shaw is also shown as a family man, although he is in danger of neglecting his family life for work and for his other obsession with the past. I found this subplot more interesting than the main case.

I still look forward to reading future books by Jim Kelly, whether they feature Shaw and Valentine, his other series character journalist Philip Dryden, or new characters, and would recommend this one to fans of the police procedural.

Thank you to the publishers for sending a copy of this book to The Bookbag.

If you like this type of book, Jim Kelly's Death Wore White introduces the main characters and has a more intriguing storyline. Simon Beckett's The Chemistry of Death is another page turner set in Norfolk. Another good police procedural series set in small town and rural England is the Alan Banks series by Peter Robinson – All the Colours of Darkness is reviewed here.

Buy Death Watch by Jim Kelly at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Death Watch by Jim Kelly at

Buy Death Watch by Jim Kelly at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Death Watch by Jim Kelly at


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