This is the first of the Gregory Summers series,
and the book opens with a bang – or two. Summers
is being held hostage by a gunman who has just shot
his wife, and must save the lives of the two children
and landlady who are also captives.

 It is hardly a spoiler to reveal that Summers successfully
talks his way out of the situation (it would hardly have
made a series if he died in the first few chapters!).
Returning home Summers conceals his activities from
his partner and there is a fairly graphic (for a middle
ground Brit myst) sex scene. The book’s actual plot
then starts with the disappearance of a child.

These opening chapters do have a somewhat hurried
and contrived feel, as though Kelly feels she needs to get
the reader hooked in a hurry and also set up some pretty
immediate character establishment and explanation. This
is not to say they are not well done, but in a way they are
a little misleading – I cannot recall that the sex scene is
repeated in quite such detail in any subsequent book for
instance. And while there is a considerable amount of
‘action’ in most books there is also much thought and observation
(as there in the rest of this one). It would be a great pity
if anyone was put off by those first chapters as a result
of Kelly’s attempt to haul the reader in.
It maybe that she also wanted to put a marker down
that the Summers series was to have a different tone from
her first (the Trevallyn/Hope series) but I cannot recall
any of the books from that series to be certain.

Returning to The Lone Traveller the plot concerns, as
previously stated, a missing child. Linked in are the Romanies
and New Age Travellers who have arrived in Hungerford for the
annual Fair, and on whom suspicion falls. Parenthood, love,
families – these are the core subjects for this book and are
explored through the case and Summers own, fascinating,
personal life. This is the sort of area where Kelly is at her
best. I had known from subsequent books that the series
was set in Berkshire in the Newbury/Hungerford area and
wondered about the Hungerford connection. This is all
amply explained in this first book. Summers is shown to have
been actually present on the day when Michael Ryan massacred 7
people. This is an interesting use of real-life events though I
suppose necessary; any fictional police series set in Hungerford
cannot ignore the town’s recent history.

The weakest part of the book is probably the solution. But even
here Kelly injects both drama and great sadness. Again I recommend
this series which is well worth starting, unlike me, with this the
first book.

(June 2007)