Set in scenic Norfolk, the Shaw & Valentine mystery
series involves two police officers. Detective Sergeant
George Valentine is an old-timer, a widower heading towards
retirement and not in the best of health. He still has an
eye for the right lady. Detective Inspector Peter Shaw,
upwardly mobile, is married to a smart, attractive café
owner who is running a beach party for a super moon at the
start of Jim Kelly's story, DEATH ON DEMAND.
An annual pilgrimage to Walsingham is coming up, with
opportunities for crowd control, but Shaw first gets a call
about a murder. Who would kill a senior citizen who was a
century old? Maybe some resident over-reacted. He heads off
to the senior home, passing beneath telephone wires and
power lines with running shoes thrown over the top,
dangling by tied laces. That's a reminder of another crime
prevention initiative for which his station is
responsible. Allegedly the shoes signal that drugs are
available here, and the police are going to go around
taking them all down.
Turns out that poor old Ruby Bright was killed all right.
She was living in an expensive home, but has no relatives
to benefit from her death. Shaw and Valentine will have to
look a bit further into the detritus of a hundred-year
life. Meanwhile, Police Constable Jan Clay is ostentatiously
removing trainers from wires, standing in a cherry-picker
hoist, when she spots a pair covered in dry blood. She
quietly bags this evidence of possible crime.
Shaw is distinguished by having only one working eye, due
to an accident on the job. Valentine has a diagnosis of
serious illness. Maybe they are particularly qualified to
work on the death of a lady in a wheelchair. I feel that
it's good to show people with disabilities because they
are part of every community and crime can strike anywhere.
To balance this, the beach café is cosmopolitan and we get
mentions of sports like Barefoot Water Skiing. I appreciate
particularly the allusions to policing incidents in Britain
- riots, corruption of the past. Not to mention, the
research into shoe tossing. In Dublin the utility companies
will turn out and remove any shoes on wires reported to
them, so it did strike me as strange that the police are
doing the work and footing the bill in this tale. But the
information they gain is valuable, shall we say.
There's more than one death and various angles of
investigation followed by the teams, making DEATH ON DEMAND
as complex and meticulous a police procedural as we could
hope to find. I enjoy procedurals because they include
social comment, and Jim Kelly gives us plentiful helpings.
This would make a superb Christmas present for a British
crime aficionado, especially if they've read all the usual
suspects. I'll be reading more by this highly individual
When the newspapers turn up to cover
Ruby Bright’s 100th birthday, they find her seaside care
home is a murder scene. Someone spirited Ruby away by
wheelchair down to the water’s edge on the idyllic north
Norfolk coast, and strangled her. But why kill a harmless
As Detective Inspector Shaw and Detective
Sergeant Valentine investigate, it’s clear Ruby wasn’t the
first victim, and nor is she the last. All trails seem to
lead back to the old Parkwood Springs estate, close to the
docklands. There’s only one way in and one way out of the
estate – through the derelict Lister Tunnel. But what is the
secret within …?