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The Skeleton Man (Philip Dryden, #5)
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The Skeleton Man (Philip Dryden #5)

3.59 of 5 stars 3.59  ·  rating details  ·  143 ratings  ·  23 reviews
For seventeen years, the English hamlet of Jude’s Ferry has lain abandoned, used only for army training exercises. Before then, the isolated, thousand-year-old community was famous for one thing---having never recorded a single crime. But when local reporter Philip Dryden joins the army on practice maneuvers in the empty village, its spotless reputation is literally blown ...more
Hardcover, 352 pages
Published January 8th 2008 by Minotaur Books (first published 2007)
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Although The Skeleton Man is the fifth book in Jim Kelly's Philip Dryden series, it is the first I have read because it's the only one available at my public library. I will be reviewing the most recent Philip Dryden book, The Funeral Owl, through NetGalley this week, and I wanted to get some idea of the characters first. The Skeleton Man served admirably for this purpose.

The Skeleton Man is similar in structure to a standard British police procedural, except that the protagonist is a journalist
First Sentence: The Capri shook to the sound of snoring, and through the fly-spattered windscreen of the mini-cab Philip Dryden contemplated the Fen horizon.

Journalist Philip Dryden accompanies the Territorial Army on a war games exercise. Jude’s Ferry is now deserted but was a small village in Cambridgeshire which, for 1000-years, never recorded a single crime. Until now. When an errant shell hits the old pub, a cellar, unmarked on ordinance maps, is uncovered as are the remains of someone who
Another 4 stars for Jim Kelly!

To me this book proves it is always best to read a series in order.
Not just the plot time line, but also to see how an author grows and adapts.
In my humble opinion, Jim Kelly has learnt to turn down some of the more irritating traits in his writing. Here we have a very clever plot that keeps on twisting until the end.

Well worth a read.

One other thing, for those of you who are familiar with the
1980’s British TV series “Hammer House of Horror”.
I suggest you dig out
It is a long time since I read a Jim Kelly book and I had forgotten how much I had enjoyed his writing. This is an excellent thriller centred on a provincial journalist and set in and around Ely, where I enjoyed a two day break a few weeks ago. It is an essentially British style thriller with only a modicum of action, albeit that there are quite a few bodies.
The plot is labyrinthine, based around an abandoned village now used as an Army training base. Characterisation is fine and Kelly never let
c2007: The pace of this was way too slow for me. I found myself bored to tears and it was like swimming in treacle to finish the book. With the protagonist being a journalist as opposed to the normal cop or pyschologist etc. - I was expecting more - plot did sound good. Courtesy of Amazon "For seventeen years, the Cambridgeshire hamlet of Jude's Ferry has lain abandoned, requisitioned by the Ministry of Defence for military training in 1990. The isolated, 1000-year-old community was famous for o ...more
THE SKELETON MAN is the fifth novel in this series - "starring" Philip Dryden, journalist - once Fleet Street luminary, now small-town newspaper man, and I have to confess this is a favourite series of mine. Not because the books are edgy, or dark or particularly enlightening of the human condition, but because everybody in them is relatively normal; the situations that Dryden ends up investigating are not that outlandish and because there is a real human touch in the way this author builds his ...more
Gary Van Cott
A good book but with some issues that don't really concern the main story. The author refers to a member a the British Territorial Army as a major but says his rank insignia has three pips (which is the insignia of a captain). Also his brief excursion into American history doesn't make sense. He say the first member of the Peyton family arrived in Virginia three seasons after the Mayflower. Since the Mayflower went to Massachusetts in 1620 and Virginia had its first permanent settlement in 1607 ...more
Love all the Dryden mysteries. The plots always keep me guessing and Dryden has a real humanity to him. His relationship with Humph is funny and touching. The unique storyline with his wife Laura is interesting and does a good a job of explaining why is lives like he does. This is the last Dryden to date as Kelly has moved onto another protagonist. The Skeleton Man did have a finality to it although I hope Kelly does return to write another book featuring Dryden. Having read an interview where h ...more
Andrea Hickman Walker
This was a good mystery. It had some irritating features and some blazingly obvious 'twists', but there was an awful lot of good writing and it was very enjoyable. Not, however, enjoyable enough for me to look out for other Philip Dryden mysteries. The main reason for that is that the man in question is some sort of journalist or something and I really prefer my main characters to be either detectives of some sort. I do not like journalistic detectives who find their mysteries while researching ...more
The fifth in the mystery series set in East Anglia with detective Philip Dryden. The plot is competent but overly complex. Anyway, it kept me reading to find out what happened -- and also what is happening with Laura, as readers of previous novels in the series will understand.

The best thing about the book is the setting in the fens (many novels have been saved for me by the strong evocation of an unfamiliar part of the world). The author makes the fens vivid and real. He keeps commenting on how
Another good book featuring Philip Dryden. Jim Kelly continues his pattern of taking a story from the past and pulling it into the present. In this case Philip finds himself investigating a murder that happened seventeen years ago...and all the secrets, lies, and emotions that have been covered up for so long begin to resurface. I continue to praise the style of mystery writing that the majority of British and European writers seem to bring to the table...and that is that murder is secondary whi ...more
Journalist Philip Dryden is viewing training exercises in Jude's Ferry, an English Hamlet which was evacuated for military exercises 17 years previously. An unrecorded cellar is revealed by a file caused by the artillery, and a skeleton is found in a noose hanging from the ceiling. Two days later, a terrified injured man with amnesia is pulled from the reeds in a nearby river. Dryden investigates the secrets of the dead town, making progress slowly, and in the process, he finds himself in troubl ...more
Always nice to find a new mystery series. This one features a journalist as its regular sleuth, which is a little removed from a police procedural but still gives him a reason to dig into unsolved crimes. This crime took place years ago and has a nice historical 70s feel. It gets too entangled with plot lines, but is still an easy read.
I had never come across this series and was given this one to return to the library. I found it edgy and interesting and will look out for some others in the series. The interplay between reporter, our hero, and the policemen is good and I wonder if there is a series with the policeman as the hero too?
Mary Kay
This is another British police procedural which deals with an abandoned village used by the British mititary for training. A mis-fired round uncovers a skeleton hanging in the basement of the pub. Who is it & what really happened 17 years ago when the villagers were forced to leave their homes?
I love Mysteries, and took a chance at this one. I enjoyed this book, although not my favorite, it was very well written.The plot kept me interested until the end, and I felt that the ending was good.I have never read this series before, and am glad I tried it...
Ishmael Seaward
Maybe the last in the Phillip Dryden series. Fairly good entertainment, with a complex plot and not a few surprizes as Dryden tries to unravel what happened 17 years ago, about a secret hidden in a small community that has since been abandoned.
Kevin Aston Hoey
I found the slow pace and relatively mundane humanity in this book quite refreshing. This is my first by the author and I look forward to going back to read more Dryden stories
Didn't realise this was the fifth in a series, but still an enjoyable read, if a little predictable by the last few chapters.
Mickey Hoffman
A complex and interesting plot with a few too many characters. The series as a whole
is well worth reading.
Katelyn S.
I was looking up books to put on here and I found this book!! It sounds so good. Like almost scary!!!
Enjoyable read - not scary though but good old detective type
Tory Wagner
Very dark British mystery. Rather slow in action.
Gayle Noble
Gayle Noble marked it as to-read
Aug 30, 2015
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Jim Kelly is a journalist and education correspondent for the Financial Times. He lives in Ely with the biographer Midge Gilles and their young daughter. The Water Clock, his first novel, was shortlisted for the CWA John Creasey Award for best first crime novel of 2002.

Librarian Note: There is more than one author in the Goodreads database with this name.
More about Jim Kelly...

Other Books in the Series

Philip Dryden (7 books)
  • The Water Clock (Philip Dryden, #1)
  • The Fire Baby (Philip Dryden, #2)
  • The Moon Tunnel (Philip Dryden, #3)
  • The Coldest Blood (Philip Dryden, #4)
  • Nightrise (Philip Dryden, #6)
  • The Funeral Owl (Philip Dryden, #7)
Death Wore White (DI Peter Shaw & DS George Valentine, #1) The Water Clock (Philip Dryden, #1) Death Toll (DI Peter Shaw & DS George Valentine #3) The Fire Baby (Philip Dryden, #2) Death Watch (DI Peter Shaw & DS George Valentine, #2)

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“The cellar, uncorked like a buried bottle, gave off the stale breath of the years.” 0 likes
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