Book Review: Death Toll

Book Cover Death Toll by Jim KellyDeath Toll by Jim Kelly

Rising sea levels have forced graves to be moved at King’s Lynn’s dockside cemetery. When one is opened the bones of young man are found on the top of the coffin. Only one thing is certain – he didn’t die of natural causes.. . .

Death Watch has been short-listed for the prestigious New Angle Prize for Literature.

Review By S. Lloyd

I was really pleased to be able to read Jim Kelly’s latest novel on Kindle because I couldn’t put it down and it’s easier to disguise a Kindle to keep on reading. This has to be the best in the Shaw and Valentine series.

His writing is vivid and conveys easily the grittiness of the large town of Kings Lynn together with the stark difference of the coast line and coastal towns a few miles up the road.

The plot, like “Death Watch” has twists and turns unravelling family secrets. “Death Toll” was stronger for me because I thought I had it worked out when another twist comes along.

The characterisation is strong too. Firstly the difficult relationship between Shaw and Valentine feels so real – for example when in DS Warren’s office together “so they sat, each alone, despite being together”. However with developments in the sub plot it will be interesting to see how their relationship develops. There is more depth to them too with Valentine’s loneliness more pronounced and Shaw’s drive to get results. Other characters are well developed and you connect to them both kindly and unkindly.

It would be great for this series to be televised.

Review originally published on