The Funeral Owl
By Jim Kelly
September 1, 2014
Paperback, 256 pp., $15.95
Reviewed by Theodore Feit
It is a fundamental precept of the journalistic trade that a reporter should never be part of the story. Apparently this precept doesn’t apply to Phillip Dryden, the editor of the local newspaper The Crow and former Fleet Street reporter. Time and again throughout this latest story in the mystery series, he not only is a participant in the story, writing first-hand, reports his discovery of a body of a Chinese man hanging from a cross of Jesus near Christ Church, in an explosion of an illegal still, in which three men, two Chinese and a Pole, when he is nearby, or several other crimes where he is either in the middle, aiding the police in analyzing the event, or solving it.
The police theorize the original murder and subsequent occurrences in a nearby town are the result of a turf war, either between opposing tongs or a splinter group, each seeking control of illegal harvesting and black market sale of metal obtained from various sources, including lead ripped off the roof of the church. Somehow, Dryden finds links between the supposed disparate murders and other odd events.
Dryden is a hardworking editor and reporter, ever on the go. The writing is sometimes slow and mired in Anglicism’s, but on the whole the plotting is sharp and there is plenty of human interest. And, to top it off, the Fens geography and weather, together with a touch of the area’s history, increase the reader’s interest, especially the intimate descriptions of dust storms a la the 1930s Midwest, and the novel is recommended....Continua