Susan Kelly – Killing the Fatted Calf, Disguise for Death
and Hope Will Answer.

Kelly has written two series – the first features Inspector
Nick Trevallyan and his partner Alison Hope. Unsurprisingly
Hope Will Answer is in this series (the third of five). I read
this a while back and cannot remember it well which is
not a good sign. Perhaps she was getting her hand in
with the first series!

The second series features Superintendent Gregory Summers
and is now up to 7 books of which I have at one time or
another read 4, including the two above. All have been good.
Summers is an interesting protagonist – he is a very ‘ordinary’
policeman, no drink problems or cliched cynicism, but he
has a very extraordinary personal life; I won’t spoil things by
revealing this, but it is so extraordinary that it provides interest
in every single book (not that his partner is necessarily involved
in the cases). I am not sure I have ever heard of a relationship
like this in real life (certainly never encountered one!). Very clever
of Kelly.
Beyond this each book is interesting in its own right. Kelly
does tend to the melodramatic and co-incidence is often
stretched to breaking point and maybe beyond according to
your taste. Sometimes her social observations are a little
banal. But she is always interesting. Killing the Fatted Calf
concerns illegal immigration, racism, child abuse, revenge,
incest – which sounds a heady brew and I suppose it is, but
Kelly’s style is plain so that it does not read as very heavy.
There is less emotional tension and intellectual engagement
than there would be with a really great writer (Walters say) –
this is not to disrespect Kelly, I think the Summers books
are good, but they are not great.
Disguise for Death is centred on the release of a convicted
IRA bomber under the terms of the Good Friday agreement and
the repercussions of this event. Again the issues are serious and
provide much scope for obfuscation when it comes to solving
the murder.
I would unhesitatingly recommend the Summers series and am
going to try and get hold of the remaining books.

(May 2007)