Read The Water Clock by Jim Kelly Online


In the bleak, snowbound landscape of the Cambridgeshire Fens, a man's mutilated body is discovered in a block of ice. High up on Ely Cathedral a second body is discovered, grotesquely riding an ancient stone gargoyle. The decaying corpse, it seems, has been there for more than thirty years.Philip Dryden, lead reporter for the local newspaper The Crow, knows he's onto a greIn the bleak, snowbound landscape of the Cambridgeshire Fens, a man's mutilated body is discovered in a block of ice. High up on Ely Cathedral a second body is discovered, grotesquely riding an ancient stone gargoyle. The decaying corpse, it seems, has been there for more than thirty years.Philip Dryden, lead reporter for the local newspaper The Crow, knows he's onto a great story when forensic evidence links both victims to one terrifying crime in 1966. But the story also offers Dryden the key to a very personal mystery. Who saved his life after a car crash one foggy night two years ago---and who left his wife, Laura, in a ditch to die? As he continues his painful visits to Laura, who has been locked in a coma ever since the accident, Dryden's search for the truth takes on ever increasing urgency. The answers will bring him face to face with his own guilt, his own fears---and a cold and ruthless killer.This brilliant and evocative murder mystery, which was shortlisted for Britain's John Creasey Award for the best first crime novel of the year, marks Jim Kelly as the new master of suspense....

Title : The Water Clock
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780312321437
Format Type : Hardcover
Number of Pages : 320 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

The Water Clock Reviews

  • LJ
    2018-11-11 04:25

    THE WATER CLOCK (Unl. Invest- Philip Dryden-England-Cont) – VGKelly, Jim – 1st in seriesPenguin Books, 2003, UK Paperback – ISBN: 0141009330First Sentence: Out on the Middle Level midnight sees the rising flood nudge open the doors of the Baptist chapel at Black Bank. *** Reporter Philip Dryden nearly drowned as a boy and again when his car went into a river, leaving his wife, Laura, in ‘locked-in syndrome’ coma. His aversion to water is understandable when he attends a crime scene where a car, whose trunk contains a mutilated body, is pulled from a frozen river. A second body, the corpse having died 30-years previously, is found on the roof of Ely Cathedral. Dryden is on the trail of the story when it is found the two victims are tied to a crime from 1966. The investigation also ties to the night that changed his, and Laura’s, life.*** I can understand why this book was short listed for a CWA John Creasey award.. It did take me a bit to realize that while he’s telling the present day story, he is also telling the events of the past and bringing the two together in an “oh, wow” ending with all the ends neatly tied up. The characters are great; Dryden is interesting and multi-dimensional and his driver, Humphrey H. Holt, could become a favorite of mine. Kelly’s use of the weather is critical to the story. It was refreshing that the original crime isn’t a serial killing. It is also nice that the story is not set in London, but in the Cambridgeshire Fens. This is the first book I’ve read of Kelly’s and it definitely won’t be the last.

  • BookScout
    2018-10-27 06:49

    A disappointment. The plot was clunky and at times it was confusing as to what was happening. Secondary narratives that were completely irrelevant to the main story were not such much interweaved as hammered on with nails, then left as redundant appendages. The main protagonist was actually genuinely vile, even spiteful at times and elicited very little empathy. I was also annoyed by the way the local people were innacurately portrayed as insular bigots, a lazy stereotype of rural communities which I thought was weak. The prose wasn't all bad, particularly some of the bleak, haunting fenland portraits were very atmospheric. And there were some funny one-liners that worked well. The best character who stood out in bright technicolour compared to anyone else was the taxi driver Humph Holt. He was totally loveable and believable, I just can't believe the main protagonist, Dryden, was so insipid. Two stars, one for the portrayal of the fenland landscape and a second for Humph and his Ford Capri.

  • Carey Combe
    2018-10-30 10:50

    This was disappointing as I adore his later books. I found the story confusing and often clunky and the secondary narratives seemed irrelevant. I liked Dryden and his sidekick Humph but in general I found the other characters too stereotypical. However, I will read another one as it was well written and I loved the descriptions of the fens.

  • Paula Brandon
    2018-11-07 06:38

    Booorrriinnnggg. This moves at a glacial pace! When you spend four pages describing how the Fens is going to flood, I start to skim! Why is that much description needed? This is a crime novel - beef up your plot! One of my pet peeves! I've also read The Fire Baby and The Coldest Blood in this series, and they were really good! So don't let this first one put you off.

  • Dan
    2018-10-29 09:22

    good page turner

  • Shannon
    2018-11-08 11:48

    This was a real "British" mystery in that it is not revised in any way for an American readership. One doesn't realize just how much editing goes on in international publishing until one comes across an unadulterated book like this one! I reveled in such idioms as: "could do with being there," and "10p bits into a gas meter." I also enjoyed the references to "wine gums" which are a candy similar to "jujy fruits." It was really fun, if sometimes a little puzzling, (for instance, what IS a "drove road?") to read exactly what a British reader would see. I hope to come across more of these authentic reads!As for the plot of the book, I felt it presented too many aspects, but applaud the intricacy of the work, especially as it was a debut novel. I was too lazy to read back and figure out who the main killer was, but I still wouldn't have unraveled all the threads, so it's certainly fair to state that the author surprised me.Briefly, Philip Dyrden, reporter on a weekly newspaper in a small town near Ely, comes across police dealing with an underwater car in which a brutally murdered body is found in the trunk (boot.) From there, the story takes off, winding its way through the gruesome discovery of an additional body found petrified on the roof of Ely Cathedral, which proves to have been there at least 30+ years. Along the way, we learn that Dryden's wife remains in a coma following a car accident from 2 years ago and as a result, he no longer drives, but gets around only by taxi, driven by an eccentric cabbie, who appears to never have any other passengers. Assorted other town citizens make appearances, including the mayor and his wife, a flashy car dealer, a contractor (builder,) a gypsy family as well as the other newspaper staff members. Several people end up in the hospital; there is a pending flood of epic proportions threatening the whole East of England and several side issues of a gay vicar and a long-ago robbery. But author Jim Kelly does a decent job of wrapping it all up and tying down the loose ends. Note: through-out the whole book, many innocent people end up maimed rather than's a little disconcerting. A good read...I will look for any others by the same author.

  • Aurelia
    2018-11-07 09:38

    I enjoyed this book and plan to read the next one "The Fire Baby". It was a pretty quick read but long enough for character development - I like Dryden, the detective & main character.

  • Pete Marchetto
    2018-11-04 11:46

    With a gripping introduction holding out the promise of great things to come and a knockout ending, it's unfortunate that The Water Clock should have been marred by just about everything in between, which is to say most of the novel. If I were cynical, I'd say that teaser at the start was there to tell us 'Hang on in there, be patient. It'll be worth it' without which many a reader may otherwise have yawned and given up. However, I'm not cynical and so will suggest no such thing.The Water Clock feels like a bid for a TV adaptation and, as such, it could even be worth watching. A decent adaptation could lose a lot of the pointless digression - of necessity given the constraints of the medium - and give some of the characters a little more pizazz with decent acting. We have too many characters here for a kick-off, and all of them get way too much background for what Kelly presents us with in the end; individuals with some eccentric character trait but little more to them than that. Take Humph, the (effective) driver of our MC, local journalist-turned-sleuth Philip Dryden. Having given us a fair bit of background to the man who is, after all, a central character in his own right, all we're left with is a bloke who doesn't like to get out of his car - ever - and has a penchant for learning obscure European languages for no apparent reason. Then there's the editor who is thin as a rake and has a knack for appearing unexpectedly. We're given a fair bit of background on the guy running the Chinese takeaway who speaks perfect English but lapses into the vernacular appropriate to his forebears with customers in quest of authenticity. Unfortunately for Kelly, I've not long since read Steinbeck's East of Eden in which another Chinese cook, Lee, does much the same thing only to far greater effect. It permits some humour, but humour for Kelly is so dry that it can evaporate off the page before you get a sniff of it.It would help if Dryden were more sympathetic as a character. After all, we see everything from his point of view, he's in nearly every scene, and through empathy with him we could have some empathy with the characters. Unfortunately, Dryden has his head so far up his own backside that he doesn't seem to have much empathy with anyone. He does a line in cynicism which I guess is intended to be world-weary and somehow wise, but instead it's overdone, coming across like the naivety of a sulky adolescent. Dryden certainly has an eye for subtlety of character and I guess, on the back of that, so must Kelly in creating him. Small mannerisms are picked up, nuances in speech, Dryden could be an arch-manipulator if he could be bothered, but he doesn't seem particularly bothered by anything much beyond his own memories. When his girlfriend gets hit in the eye by a firework we're couldn't care less given it's hard to care when Dryden clearly doesn't particularly, and he's effectively the one telling us about it. Then there are the tricks of the trade Kelly uses to ill-effect. Flashbacks that take us crashing out of the narrative, leaving us a little confused until we get used to the idea that when things are italicised, what we're being told Happened In The Past And Is About To Become Important. Dryden receiving Information Which Reveals All, but though we're so in his head we sometimes come out of his backside, what Dryden has just had revealed to him is withheld from us for fear of spoilers. That, Mr. Kelly, is cheating. If I sound a little harsh, then here's the good stuff. The things that makes this a three-star work instead of a two I'd never have reviewed given I throw two-star books at the wall half-read. That intro kept me reading through the entirety of this turgid work given it did inspire hope for a cracking ending. The cracking ending was delivered and worth reading, though perhaps too short to be worth the heavy price of entry into it. Kelly has, as I have said, a good eye for character, but that just makes it all the more annoying when the subtle nuances he can present are not invested, given to us instead as disposable observations. He does a nice little line in symbolism, water and ice in this instance, but why should I care about the subtleties of symbolism when I'm having a hard enough time keeping up with the narrative? Above all, what's all this disposable subtlety got to do with what is, in the end, something akin to a thriller? Is this character-driven or plot-driven? It seems to be neither. Literature or genre? Again, Kelly doesn't seem able to make up his mind and it plops to the ground somewhere in the middle. A more literary work with different themes and Kelly might have walked away with a five-star review from me had he exercised his latent abilities to good effect but not here, not for this, sorry. I made it to the end and a cracking ending it was, but it wasn't worth all the effort to get there.

  • Stephen Hayes
    2018-11-10 07:46

    A rather confusing whodunit.

  • Jen
    2018-10-27 09:35

    Journalist Philip Dryden is haunted by a car accident that left his wife in a coma. When another crime seems to link back to his own car accident, Dryden is out to "get the story."I enjoyed the use of flashback in this novel. It helped bring details of the mystery out little by little, which in turn created suspense; the build up was better than the outcome, I thought. I don’t really think that both plots needed to occur simultaneously, though. The subplot dealing with Philip and Kathy’s car accident didn’t really need to be involved, and I think it kind of muddied the waters, so to speak. There ended up being quite a few characters in this book.I had difficulty liking Philip Dryden. And his feelings toward his wife seemed to be inconsistent. He visits her daily, talks to her, tries to protect her when he knows someone is breaking in her room; yet, he doesn’t seem to believe she has any chance of recovery and then jumps in bed with Kathy Wilde. A lot of the time I didn’t feel he had any true emotions for either one of the women; he was just driven to get the story, and he’d use anyone and everyone to get there. Andrew Stubbs came across as indifferent to me as well. He was trying to save his job, but it seemed to me more like going through the motions than really WANTING to keep his job. I did enjoy the character of Humph. He was unique. And I thought Billy Shepherd was a well-developed character. He came across as genuine to me. He really wanted to find out what happened to his brother.Overall, the novel was okay, but I’m not interested in pursuing any of the others in this series.

  • M.
    2018-11-16 04:34

    I had picked up the second through fifth books in the Philip Dryden series at a discount bookseller. To be fair, I tracked down the first to see if my $20 investment had been a bad risk. It was not!In a nutshell, the success of this book is its lead character, Philip Dryden. Dryden is not the typical fearless hero. He is a haunted, cynical and wry journalist, subject to fear and moral failings. In other words, a very realistic creation. His backstory, particularly that relating to his wife, is tragic and a focus of the book. It is hard to dislike Dryden, as his life is in a state of limbo.Dryden, a reporter for a newspaper called The Crow in the village of Ely within the Cambridgeshire Fens, starts investigating a murder that he soon discovers is connected to remains discovered days later on the roof of a cathedral. What connects a murder today with a mysterious death from thirty years past? Dryden aims to find out, but someone is intent on warning him off...The plot is very complex, and does come together at the end although one big reveal is somewhat of a letdown. The trip the reader takes to get to that point is thrilling, though, and Kelly's writing style is vivid in its imagery without being cumbersome. In fact, it is very artful and he brings the setting and the action scenes to life with a lyrical quality. That, and Dryden, are well worth the price of admission.

  • Damaskcat
    2018-11-01 09:50

    This is the first book in a series featuring journalist Philip Dryden. He lives on a boat moored near Ely and works for a local paper. He employs the eccentric Humph to drive him around in his ancient Ford Capri because he hasn't driven since an accident two years ago which left his wife, Laura in a coma. The reader first sees him at the scene of what appears to be another accident where a car has gone into a drain and the water has frozen above it - a not unusual occurrence in this part of the country. Then a body is found in the boot of the car when it is recovered.This is followed by the discovery of a skeleton behind a gargoyle on the tower of Ely Cathedral. Gradually the mystery is unfolded as the body count mounts. It seems that the police and Dryden himself are always one step behind the murderer. Dryden has his own agenda too - to find out what really happened the night of his own accident and why the police seem not to have investigated it thoroughly.This is an atmospheric mystery with an interesting main character. I thought the relationship between Dryden and DS Stubbs was well done. It is sparky and uneasy as each person needs the information the other can provide. I also liked the background of a provincial newspaper. I didn't like this quite as much as the first book in the author's other series featuring Shaw and Valentine but I think it will grow on me.

  • Annelie
    2018-10-20 07:23

    Honestly a bit boring. The plot was a bit meh, the crime that happened in the past, hell, the crimeS that happened in the past sounded more interesting than the mess that ended up being the plot used. But okay, I've read it all. Not sure I got any wiser having read this story, and I'm pretty damn sure I didn't get entertained.Why two stars instead of one? Not the worst book I've read. And some of the characters were fun enough (not Dryden though, Humpf (or however you spell it) was hilarious. 'Smith' was cool....uhhh....Laura was better than Dryden).What have I learned as an aspiring writer? You can, apparently, plug up all the plotholes in the last two pages, by the way of a list where the writer probably hastily removed the bullet points just before print, and STILL get published. That felt cheap, and I felt cheated. I should've just read those two pages instead of the whole book.And if I have to be entirely honest? Who the hell was the dude who ended up being the whodunnit? Out of all the sort-of-maybe-a-little interesting characters, that dude whose name I read in passing maybe twice diddly did gone and done it?Fuck off, now you're just taking the piss.

  • Cleo Bannister
    2018-11-07 09:37

    In the Water Clock Jim Kelly has produced a `comfortable' crime story which implies that any murder happens out of sight with no violence.... Not true, but the style of writing and the wry sense of humour that accompanies it somehow gives a warmer feel . Philip Dryden a newspaper writer whose wife Laura in a coma drives around the fens using his personal cabbie, Humphrey Holt, gathering copy to phone through to the partially deaf copywriter at The Crow.One of the trips leads him to a body in the boot of a car. Local policeman Andy Stubbs has something Philip Dryden wants so he investigates the murder. There are links to a robbery in 1966 on World Cup day which Dryden is determined to unpick.This book was written over a decade ago that adds to the slightly old-fashioned feel. I loved the descriptions of the office workers at The Crow, the long memories of those who live on the Fens and the great writing. A good plot and likable characters has definitely put Jim Kelly as an author to read more of for me.

  • Cat.
    2018-10-21 09:25

    A mystery somewhat reminiscent of P.D. James' works. This is set in the fens near Ely; the location is important because only there would the bogginess of the land mimic the bogginess of people's interior lives. There are mysteries in mysteries here: who rescued reporter Philip Dryden from his car after a crash into a bog, but left his wife to die (although she remains in a coma); what is so important about a crime that occurred 38 years ago; who is visiting his comatose wife and leaving notes under her pillow; is the detective assigned to the current case Dryden is reporting as incompetent as his father and everyone else think? A pretty good story, although the title somewhat gives the game away, if you are paying attention to the descriptions of people's house decor. Still, this is a pretty decent first effort for an author who normally writes for the Financial Times in London! I wonder if he'll bring back Dryden in forthcoming books, or if he'll start anew.

  • Will Tate
    2018-11-17 09:33

    Having met the author when he judged a local short story competition I bought this book in his home town of Ely. I really liked the story and I think Kelly does a good job of showing how his 'hero' Dryden links the discovery of a decaying corpse on the roof of Ely cathedral to the body of a man found in the boot of a car that has been pulled out of a river. I liked Dryden - the typically cynical damaged protagonist of many a noir-ish detective story, living on a barge on the river and I will certainly read more of his adventures. Kelly does a fantastic job of conveying the bleak emptiness of the Fens (and many of its inhabitants). My only niggles are that he sometimes lets too much of his research show in his descriptions of the landscape and buildings and the "flashback" sections describing the original crime in 1966, and episodes from Dryden's own backstory, sometimes jarred and spoiled the pace of the action. But bring me more Fenland noir!

  • Jean
    2018-10-31 06:45

    I'm always thrilled when I can find a new mystery writer who has lots of books I can dig into, but these are becoming scarcer (more scarce?). My most recent find is Jim Kelly. I like a start at the beginning, in case there is a progression of events through the main character's personal life. Philip Dryden is a reporter, formerly with the Times of London, who is dividing his time between being head reporter for a small local paper and visiting his wife, who is in a coma following an auto accident. He has a lot of guilt about her condition, because he got out of the car and was rescued but he was unconscious and wasn't able to tell the police to save her. In this case, he's investigating a killing, along with the police. The writing is excellent and the action believable. I'm looking forward to more of Philip Dryden and Jim Kelly.

  • Monica
    2018-11-10 04:23

    “The Water Clock” is Jim Kelly’s first book featuring a journalist named Philip Dryden. This book started out really slow for me and I wasn’t sure if I could slog through it. I put it down for a few days, then made a cup of coffee and sat down with it again. Glad I did. The story takes place in the Cambridgeshire region of England at a dull and dreary and cold time of year. Kelly is great at creating atmosphere and I found myself there in the mist. The plot itself was good...strong...not at all sensational but thoughtful and dealing with the past and present. A crime in the past...a murder or two in the present. It was good to read a crime book where a journalist plays the key role. Another author and protagonist to add to my long list of series.

  • Sarah
    2018-10-23 03:26

    "The Water Clock" was a murder/mystery novel that had a variety of intricate plot twists and turns and eventually wove all the various seemingly unrelated stories together into one unified conclusion. I liked the main character (Philip Dryden)very much, he was a real, human character that was fleshed out very well. The main case is solved and leaves plenty to go on for another book with the lead character. As Dryden is a news reporter the book also had some other "news" events that he covered, which added to the realistic nature of the novel, it felt like this person was real and I was slipping into his daily life. I found it a good book and would recommend it.

  • Ghengis
    2018-11-16 10:51

    I thought this was a superb novel and I am surprised by the number of negative reviews here. I live in the area where the story is set and the description of the various places and the social life of the fens is spookily accurate. The plot and the various sub plots were cleverly thought through and resolved satisfyingly together. I loved the water theme running throughout the book which is reflective of the preoccupation of most fen dwellers who are engaged in a constant battle against submersion. I only know of one other novel set in the fens - Waterland by Graham Swift - I enjoyed reading a novel by someone who clearly takes a great interest in his home town.

  • Elaine Flew
    2018-11-12 06:26

    I discovered Jim Kelly a few years ago - what a find! His prose makes the reader feel as though they are part of the story. It pulls you in, and holds you with a grip of steel - atmospheric and mesmerizing. The relationship between the protagonist, Philip Dryden, and the taxi driver, Humph, brings humour, whilst his visits to his wife's bedside, as she lies in a coma, give Dryden a believable character and background. I enjoyed this hugely, and read the others in the series with relish! More please!!

  • Cliff
    2018-11-11 05:50

    I'm giving this 4* because I love the sense of place the author evokes. The Fens are a creepy place cross crossed by malignant looking rivers and drainage cuts. I felt the atmosphere throughout the books. The story is a little clunky, true, but I liked the character of the protagonist Philip Dryden. He is a hack, but a likeable one. Not the drunk so often portrayed in fiction. One thing didn't ring true. No local authority private hire inspector would ever licence Humph's car with its bald tyres!

  • Alistair
    2018-10-17 08:25

    This is my introduction to the work of Jim Kelly and I arrived with no preconceptions.The central plot I found enthralling and the sub plot of the lead character’s wife being in a coma a nice twist. There are a lot of English culture references in the book, which may confuse readers from a different country, unless they are confirmed anglophiles.My main problem with this work was the constant hopping around of time zones, which did cause a slight confusion. However, I enjoyed it enough to give the next book “The Fire Baby” a chance.

  • Margery
    2018-11-13 06:42

    I'm glad I've read some of Jim Kelly's later work, so I feel confident future books in this series will be worth reading. This particular book, the first in his Philip Dryden series, has a crackerjack opening and a satisfying ending, but my goodness, it surely does meander in the middle. I'm interested in the characters, however, whom I expect to see fleshed out in later stories. Also, Kelly's writing is very good indeed. Overall, I enjoyed the book, in spite of being a tad confused and a little bored during the middle hundred pages.

  • Jenny Macdonald
    2018-10-30 07:24

    In the bleak, snowbound landscape of the Cambridgeshire Fens, a man's mutilated body is discovered in a block of ice. High up on Ely Cathedral a second body is discovered, grotesquely riding an ancient stone gargoyle. The decaying corpse, it seems, has been there for more than thirty year. The Water Clock is a competant murder/mystery novel that has a variety of intricate plot twists and turns and eventually weaves all the various seemingly unrelated stories together into one unified conclusion.A reasonably good read.

  • Deb
    2018-11-15 10:26

    The main character is a journalist Philip Dryden Who finds a dead body in the water which brings back memories of the car accident he had that caused his wife to be in a coma for two years. He begins investigating this murder when another dead body is found on a rooftop. Both bodies are linked to something that happened 40 years earlier in 1966. Phillips life as well as his wife's are put in danger due to his investigation.

  • Trev Twinem
    2018-11-15 03:27

    Well actually I did not finish...I hate to leave a book unfinished...but I was so bored...yawn...yawn! Philip Dryden trying to solve a murder linked to events stretching back some 30 about plodding and procedural..wake me up when it's over! So I have abandoned ship and request that you all grab the ship's cat and do the same....walking the plank is preferable to reading such unexciting prose.....

  • Gary Van Cott
    2018-10-19 07:51

    As flat is the Fens. This was apparently the author's first published book and I am somewhat surprised it was published. The main character is a reporter, somewhat like DS Valentine in his Peter Shaw series, but with the vices turned down a couple of notches. Dryden is deathly afraid of water, yet lives on a boat. I did not find the characters engaging and the book doesn't have much in the way of internal climaxes and the final one is weak.

  • Gooddeeds
    2018-11-07 11:51

    Great story - everything is all linked of course - wonder how often that happens for read?! :)Very funny too: "...part of the allure of cab driving since the separation had been the opportunity he might get to knock the bastard (EX-WIFE'S NEW BOYFRIEND) down." :)Loved the scenes with Philip Dryden and Humph in his Capri and can't wait to read more of Jim Kelly's books.Bought from Newcastle BHF shop and donated to Newcastle PDSA.

  • Sandra
    2018-10-26 08:28

    I read, and enjoyed, a story by Jim Kelly in 'The Starlings and other stories' and wanted to read more of his writing. There was a lot to like about this first book in the Philip Dryden series - the Fens location, the characters and the setting-up and almost laconic solving of the plot, not without a few dangerous moments; I shall certainly look out for more. This probably rated 3.5 rather than 4, but I'm usually generous for a first read.