Interview With Jim Kelly, author of Death Toll
by Joseph B. Hoyos
Review by Joseph B. Hoyos
Gumshoe Review *Interview ISBN/ITEM#: INTJimKelly
Date: 27 June 2011
Links: Review: Death Toll / Jim Kelly's Website /
After reading Death Toll with its fascinating, heart-pounding denouement, I feared that the Inspector Shaw series might be coming to an end. Rushing to Jim Kelly’s web site, I e-mailed him a few questions. He was gracious enough to reply to my inquires. Kelly assured me that Shaw and Valentine are once again paired up in his next novel which is provisionally titled Deathbed.
Shaw and Valentine are as opposite as night and day. One is young and the other is old; one jogs along the beach while the other sits at a bar drinking; and one is widowed and alone while the other is happily married with a child. According to Kelly, he modeled the two men after the same man in his life: his own real-life father who was a detective at Scotland Yard. This is why Shaw and Valentine are at odds with one another because they are the same man, only separated by a lifetime.
I personally believe that a unique setting is very important to the success of a novel. Kelly's Inspector Shaw series is set at King’s Lynn during the cold, winter months. The snow and freezing weather become more obstacles to overcome in order to solve the mysteries. When asked why Kelly chose King's Lynn as the setting, he said it was because this city has a seedy urban side but it also has a wonderful Medieval heritage. King's Lynn is very close to the vacation paradise of Norfolk Coast with its beautiful, limitless beaches. His Dryden novels are set in the small town of Ely and, for the Inspector Shaw novels, he desired a setting with the potential for a lot of urban city crime.
Jim Kelly said he was greatly influenced by "Golden Age" writers, especially those who wrote Locked Room Mysteries. These are mysteries where the reader is presented with a puzzle and expected to solve it before being told the solution. Locked Room Mysteries usually involve a murder committed under apparently impossible circumstances. The victim is found in a locked room, chamber, etc., that the perpetrator could not enter and/or exit and the murder weapon can not be found. Kelly has been influenced by Locked Room writers ranging from the modern to the classic such as Dorothy L. Sayers, John Dickson Carr, Gaston LeRoux, Israel Zangwill, and Edgar Allan Poe.
Once again, I want to thank best-selling author Jim Kelly for answering my questions. I wish him much success with his Inspector Shaw series and look forward to its next installment, tentatively titled Deathbed.