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Death on Demand (Shaw and Valentine) by Jim Kelly
Review by Joseph B. Hoyos
Crème de la Crime Hardcover  ISBN/ITEM#: 9781780290775
Date: 01 November 2015 List Price $29.95 Amazon US / Amazon UK

Links: Author's Website / Show Official Info /

Originally, Ruby Bright would have had a festive 100th birthday celebration at Marsh House. Instead, the wheelchair-bound centenarian is rolled out to the beach where she is suffocated to death with a freezer zip-bag. DI Peter Shaw and DS George Valentine investigate the shocking crime. Soon, they learn that some of Ruby's elderly friends have died under mysterious circumstances. Ruby's death is also connected to several other crimes: blood-soaked sneakers thrown over wires and threats made against a Christian pilgrimage to the shrine of the Virgin Mary in Walsingham. Shaw and Valentine fight personal demons as they battle to prevent an evil organization from killing more elderly citizens.

Best-selling British author Jim Kelly presents us with Death on Demand, his most complex, most bizarre, most controversial mystery in the Shaw and Valentine series. I had to definitely take notes on this one. There is the main plot and numerous subplots that are all connected. The question on everyone's lips is: Who killed Ruby Bright, and why? Soon her death is connected to the deaths of other senior citizens who lived at Marsh House or at a housing community in Ely known as Parkwood Springs. This community is near the Lister Tunnel where blood-soaked sneakers are thrown over wires to delineate the territories of fighting gangs (North End versus South End). When the corpse of a gang member is found, it is realized that these fights are turning deadly.

Also by Jim Kelly:
Peter Shaw and George Valentine Series:
* Death Wore White
* Death Watch
* Death Toll
* Death's Door
* At Death's Window
* Death on Demand
Philip Dryden:
* The Coldest Blood
* The Skeleton Man
* Nightrise
* The Funeral Owl
* The Water Clock
* The Fire Baby
* The Moon Tunnel

An act of terrorism occurs in Death on Demand. I read this only a few days after the ISIS massacre in Paris on Friday, November 13, 2015. The ensuing chaos provides some of the novel's most intense scenes. It is during this chaos that much information is revealed about Ruby Bright's demise. Jim Kelly is an expert at writing novels with numerous interconnecting subplots. Also, he is an expert at writing novels rife with police and medical procedures that make them appear more true to life. Reading a Jim Kelly novel is like reading nonfiction. His writing style is very similar to that of Peter James, another one of Britain's best-selling authors.

As I noted earlier, Peter Shaw and George Valentine are fighting personal demons. Shaw is gradually losing sight in his one good eye. Fortunately, his wife, Lena, is achieving success as co-owner of her beach café, Surf!. Valentine receives a terrible medical diagnosis, which isn't too surprising since he is a chain smoker. Unfortunately, he now has a new love interest, Jan Clay. She has recently joined the police force. Her husband, also a police officer, passed away from cirrhosis of the liver; he was a closet drinker. Will she survive the death of another loved one? Despite the fact that Shaw and Valentine are fictional characters, I care enough about them to feel sorrow when they are in pain.

Controversial issues such as abortion, gay rights, and the euthanasia of the elderly are discussed in Jim Kelly's Death on Demand. Some elderly citizens demand to die on certain dates as a type of bizarre family tradition that can be traced back for generations. Others, such as Ruby Bright, fight valiantly against death. The murder of a sixteen-year-old teenager, Lewis Gunnel, is viewed differently than that of Ruby Bright's. The teenager's death is considered more tragic because of his young age. Peter Shaw looked upon their deaths as the same. Ruby struggled bravely for the life she was presently living, regardless of the few years she may have had left.

When does life begin? When is life supposed to end? Why end someone's life because of a pair of shoes, or other materialistic possessions? People are always looking for reasons to demean, belittle, hate, and even kill someone else. It doesn't always have to be about skin color. It can be politics, religion, or economic status. If someone can get rich from ending a life, that makes murder even more appealing. Scary is the thought that soon doctors will be able to provide death on demand for the elderly and get paid handsomely for it. Death on Demand is highly recommended for fans of the British whodunit. I demand that Jim Kelly write another sequel in this highly intriguing series.

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