THE WATER CLOCK opens with the discovery of a mutilated body crammed into the trunk of a car.  The car is frozen under 15 feet of water in a river.  The next day, another body is found, draped over one of the gargoyles at the top of Ely Cathedral.  This one has been there for nearly 30 years.

Philip Dryden is a reporter for THE CROW, the weekly newspaper for Ely, Cambridgeshire.  Dryden is a keen reporter and recorder of information.  One of his sources  is Detective Sergeant Andy Stubbs.  Each wants something from the other.  Stubbs wants Dryden to write an article suggesting that there is a suspect in the death of the man in the car. After badly mishandling another case, Stubbs is about to face a disciplinary hearing that could cost him his job.  He needs something to rehabilitate his image.    Dryden wants Stubbs to give him access to the two-year old file explaining the circumstances of Dryden’s own rescue from his car when it went under water after being forced off the road.  Dryden is desperate to know who pulled him out of the car, drove him to the hospital, but left his wife, Laura, in the back seat. Laura has been in a coma since the accident.  Dryden needs to know who left Laura to die.  Why wasn’t she saved?

The story moves back to the afternoon of July 30, 1966, the afternoon of the World Cup final between England and Germany.  Amy Ward was alone in the Crossways filling station; her husband, George, and the mechanic at the station were watching the game in the living room, paces from the filling station’s shop. As Amy polished the counter, she noticed three men standing outside with their backs against the plate glass window.  Suddenly, they entered the shop, balaclavas pulled over their faces.  One held a shot gun.  They quickly emptied the till.  As they were leaving, Amy said the words that would change her life.  “I know you.”  At that moment, England tied with Germany and under the cover of the noise from the living room, the shot gun was fired, destroying part of Amy Ward’s face.

As Dryden investigates the discovery of the bodies, he becomes convinced that they are connected.  It was common knowledge that the gargoyles needed immediate masonry.  work.  The discovery of this body from long ago was inevitable.  Maybe a man had to die to protect the identity of the killer and the killed.  When betting slips found in the pocket of the man on the gargoyle, dated `”August 65″,  reveal the identity of the victim,  Dryden is convinced  that these men were involved in the Crossways robbery.

Every night Dryden visits Laura, filling her in on all the details of his day, talking things over with her.  One night, Dryden is told that Laura has moved slightly.  The doctors are delighted; Dryden is suspicious.  He has seen nothing change in two years and he is sure he would notice if Laura was coming back.  Then Dryden finds warning notes tucked between Laura’s pillows.  The message is clear that even Laura isn’t safe if Dryden continues his investigation.   Dryden realizes that he has stirred up the long-settled mud that covered the Crossways robbery and someone is still willing to kill to keep that robbery from being solved.

THE WATER CLOCK is the first in the Philip Dryden series, each book better than the one before.  Kelly’s stories are intriguing and his writing is rich and evocative of the area, the Fens, in which the stories are set.  But his finest writing is in the creation of Philip Dryden and his relationship with Laura.  She is a vital character in all the books and Kelly creates a love story that grows and evolves throughout the novels.

As with many great series, the Philip Dryden books are best read in order.

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2 Responses to THE WATER CLOCK – Jim Kelly

  1. Pingback: AUTHORS I – M | MURDER by TYPE

  2. pooja yadav says:

    veryyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy boring

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