BOOK REVIEW: THE SKELETON MAN
Once again, Kelly delivers a riveting psychological tale of human nature. In The Skeleton Man. Philip Dryden is sent to cover the war games the army is conducting at Jude's Ferry, a long abandoned village. The assignment tugs at Dryden because seventeen years before, while a reporter of some note on Fleet Street, he covered the evacuation of Jude's Ferry. So taken with the story at the time, he purchased the recorded interviews Cambridge University had taped of the last citizens in town. This prior connection proves to be important as he works the story.
When artillery shells hit the old tavern, a cellar, not on the army's village map, is exposed-as well as a hanging skeleton. It is assumed that the skeleton is that of a suicide victim. But the question remains, who is the victim? Why did no one report him missing? Meanwhile, just a couple of days later, a man is washed up on the bank of the river near the village. The man, afraid and suffering from amnesia, can only remember that Jude's Ferry is important to him. Dryden assumes there is a link between the two cases and begins digging into the village's history. One of the first things he does is to listen again to the taped interviews of the villagers as they were evacuating. Those people have scattered now and as Dryden travels to ask further questions, he obviously hits a nerve or two, putting himself and the amnesia victim at risk.
Through four previous books readers have followed the ups and downs of Philip Dryden's life. Now in the fifth book in the series, Dryden's life again takes some unexpected turns.
His wife Laura, critically injured seven years ago in a car accident, has come out of her coma. Instead of being part of the sad back story that her character has been before, she is an active character in this book's mystery.
The strength of Kelly's books is the characters. It is also the one weakness. While Kelly's characters are richly complex and the reoccurring ones are ever developing, the shear number of characters can be a bit daunting when trying to sort out the clues. That aside, for fans of Dryden, this is another excellent outing. For readers unfamiliar with the series, I would recommend reading at least the first book, The Water Clock to get the history of the characters.
REVIEWED BY CARYN ST. CLAIR
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