There's nothing better than a well-executed version of one of the good old staples of crime fiction - a twist on the locked room scenario.
DEATH WORE WHITE is the first in a new series from CWA Dagger Winner Jim Kelly, an author well known for his ongoing Philip Dryden books. DI Peter Shaw and DS George Valentine are a good pairing - Valentine the older cop, ex-partner of Shaw's father, his career has seen higher points. Shaw, on the other hand, is a rising star, keen to prove himself and to clear his father's, and consequently Valentine's, reputations over the last case they both investigated. Despite what sounds like a pretty predictable scenario (and let's face it - most of everything's been done before), Shaw and Valentine rub along together as you'd expect the old buck and the young upstart to do for a while, eventually coming to a grudging if not quite respect, then at least understanding.
At the heart of DEATH WORE WHITE there's a very complicated plot which unravels for some aspects predictably, and in others unexpectedly. One of the best parts of this particular locked room scenario is that whilst it's obvious that's what the reader is being confronted with, and therefore there must be more to the initial discovery of the scene, the full story is revealed in a way that the reader can draw some conclusions, maybe completely solve the puzzle. The story is, however, incredibly complicated and some readers might find that it stretches credibility somewhat, having said that, personally I had no problem with the interconnectedness of the entire thing.
The book is really a great story, told well, with a couple of interesting central characters, set in a vividly drawn and ever so slightly quirky setting. Kelly knows how to write good, solid entertaining crime fiction - a bit of a puzzle solver, as gruesome as the killing may be, these books aren't particularly confrontational and characters and the settings are a big part of what he does. DEATH WORE WHITE should appeal to fans of the Dryden series, as well as to readers who are new to Jim Kelly's books.