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Nightrise (Return of Philip Dryden) by Jim Kelly
Review by Joseph B. Hoyos
Creme de la Crime Hardcover  ISBN/ITEM#: 9781780290331
Date: 01 January 2013 List Price $28.95 Amazon US / Amazon UK

Links: Author's Website / Show Official Info /

Philip Dryden is an investigative reporter for The Crow in Ely, England. His wife Laura, a former actress, has just given birth to his son. Soon afterwards, Dryden is told that his father's badly burned corpse is lying in a morgue, the victim of an automobile accident. How can this be when Jack Dryden was swept away in the floods of 1977? Dryden ponders where his father has been for the past 35 years. While investigating the corpse's true identity, Dryden is terrorized by gangsters who kill and kidnap surviving members of his family.

Best-selling British author Jim Kelly took a break from his Philip Dryden series to write his thrilling Death series, starring the detective team of Peter Shaw and George Valentine. Now Philip Dryden has returned in the nightmarish Nightrise. Imagine how Dryden feels upon learning his father may have been alive for the past thirty-five years. Foremost are the feelings of betrayal and anger from having grown up without a father who was always nearby. Recently, Jack Dryden was living in the same city of Ely. During his investigations into the corpse's identity, Dryden uncovers painful secrets from his father's past when he was a schoolteacher.

The stress and horror that Dryden feels increases dramatically as another of his relatives is found dead. Soon, other members of his family are jeopardized by the evil thugs who are seeking a mysterious package--a package that brings life to some people and death to others. Dryden must focus his investigation on the flooded marshlands and meres (small lakes) of the Fens, located in Eastern England. Entire villages, such as River Bank, where his mom is buried, have been submerged by government-sanctioned flooding. His uncle, Roger Stutton, traps eels at River Bank. Dryden becomes entangled in the fight to prevent further flooding of the Fens, specifically Petit Fen. It is at Eau Fen that he investigates the gang killing of Rory Setchey who is found hanging from an irrigator in a lettuce field.

Jim Kelly is one of those extremely gifted writers who relies on personal experiences and extensive research to bring his stories to three-dimensional life. His diverse characters and their unique environs are described in such graphic detail that I feel I must be reading nonfiction. (Kelly is definitely in the same league as other popular British crime novelists such as Peter James and Barry Maitland.) The Fens, with their hauntingly beautiful sunrises and nightrises, give the novel a morose atmosphere.

Nightrise is the first Philip Dryden novel I've read and I enjoyed it just as much as the ones in his previous Death series. Most all of these gloomy, atmospheric novels involve past secrets that return to tear a family apart. The past collides viciously with the present. Furthermore, these novels are set along the coastline of Eastern England during the colder months. Many of the locales are also isolated, increasing the likelihood of characters dying before being found. In Nightrise, as well as in Kelly's previous novels I've read (Death Wore White, Death Watch and Death Toll), there are plenty of suspense and violence to guarantee a fast pacing. Furthermore, expect Nightrise to have a complex plot with numerous subplots that converge together for a very satisfying and clever whodunit.

Fans of British noir will most definitely want to read Jim Kelly's latest installment in the Philip Dryden series, Nightrise. If I had time, I would definitely read the series' previous novels. Dryden appears to be a very likeable character. I would love to learn more about the backgrounds of him, his wife Laura, and especially the strange Humph Holt who seems to be Dryden's personal chauffeur.

I can not end this review of Nightrise without praising its publishing company, Crème De La Crime, an imprint of Severn House Publishers Ltd. They did an excellent job of printing this novel in hardback. When I removed the dust jacket, I was pleasantly surprised to find its artwork also imprinted on both of its strong, sturdy covers. Thus the novel doesn't need a dust jacket; if it got lost or torn, the novel is still easily identifiable by its artwork. Also, the paper is thicker than ordinary, not thin like newsprint, and the lettering was large and legible. I didn't need a magnifying glass to read it. Crème De La Crime did a most professional job of printing Nightrise and I wish other publishing companies would follow their example.

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