Village secrets are blasted open when an abandoned church becomes a war-games target.
Reporter Philip Dryden, on assignment for the newspaper The Crow, is on hand when Major John Broderick instigates the training bombardment of Jude’s Ferry, a tiny hamlet the army emptied of residents 17 years ago so its soldiers could use it for artillery practice. Some of the material, however, misfires, landing in a cellar not marked on any ordinance map in which a desiccated corpse is found hanging. Before it can be identified, a tomb nearby is rifled, a small grave is dug up and refilled and an amnesiac is found floating in the river—a man who, later in the hospital, has flashes of Kathryn, a woman he loved in Jude’s Ferry. As DI Peter Shaw, a forensics specialist, and Dryden try to piece together the puzzle, they focus on local candidates who might have been the hanged man, but their task is complicated by letter bombs and dognappings by an animal rights group. As they examine each of the men’s stories, they uncover more village secrets, including illegitimacy, family disputes and murder passed off as suicide.
Keeps peeling away layers until all that remains is the sad, misguided core of village solidarity, and the conviction that Kelly (The Coldest Blood, 2007, etc.) is a master of the psychological mystery.