The Funeral Owl
Creme de la Crime
When a reader contacts local newspaper The Crow to report a rare sighting of the Boreal or so-called ‘Funeral’ owl, the paper’s editor Philip Dryden has a sense of foreboding. For the Funeral Owl is said to be an omen of death.
It’s already proving to be one of the most eventful weeks in The Crow’s history. The body of a Chinese man has been discovered hanging from a cross in a churchyard in Brimstone Hill in the West Fens. The inquest into the deaths of two tramps found in a flooded ditch has unearthed some shocking findings. A series of metal thefts is plaguing the area. And PC Stokely Powell has requested Dryden’s help in solving a ten-year-old cold case: a series of violent art thefts culminating in a horrifying murder.
As Dryden investigates, he uncovers some curious links between the seemingly unrelated cases: it would appear the sighting of the Funeral Owl is proving prophetic in more ways than one.
When I selected this book I was unaware that this was the 7th book in the Philip Dryden series. It took me about 40 pages to become comfortable and familiar with the main characters and the location, after that I was fully immersed in this well written book of many mysteries.
This is a solidly written mystery, visually exemplary – I was able to place myself in the setting of the Ely countryside and see the houses, the farms, and the ghost like villages ever shrinking in population. Add to this vista the rundown church towers, the black dust storms and you have a contemporary landscape that is not pretty but one that is real and gritty and worthy of your interest. Much is happening under the surface of these decaying towns; murders, an illicit brewery, art fraud, gang war fare, evidence of post traumatic stress brought about by events of the Korean War and other acts of violence closer to home; Kelly expertly draws all these seemingly unrelated threads together in a narrative that will keep you engaged to the very last page. A very satisfying read.