The Word Association


Jim Kelly Jim was born in Barnet, north London, the son of a Scotland Yard detective and wartime Commando. He was told at an early age that he could pursue any career except - the police force. The youngest of three brothers, he studied geography – especially the perception of landscape – at Sheffield University.

After graduation he became a reporter on the Bedfordshire Times, chief reporter of the Bedford Express, and Deputy News Editor of the Yorkshire Evening Press. He specialized in covering crime and politics. He took a sabbatical to study freedom of information legislation at Wolfson College, Cambridge, before moving to the Financial Times, where he was UK Pages Editor of the International Edition, Tax Correspondent, and finally Education Correspondent.

In 1994 he married fellow writer Midge Gillies, and moved to the cathedral Fen city of Ely. He wrote the draft of his first book – The Water Clock - on the daily train journeys to and from London. Jim’s sleuth in these books was a local newspaper journalist. After winning the CWA Dagger in the Library he was encouraged to start a new series based on the north Norfolk coast, featuring the mis-matched police duo of DI Peter Shaw, and his side-kick DS George Valentine. He has reflected that the first of these is a version of his father as a young man, the second his father near retirement. It is little wonder they didn’t get on. Jim’s third series is set in Cambridge during the Second World War, and features Inspector Eden Brooke. The stories draw on his interest in wartime history, a passion shared with Midge, who has published several books on the period. She is Academic Director of Creative Writing for Cambridge University’s Institute of Continuing Education at Madingley Hall. They have a daughter who is studying fine art.

Latest Book: HANNA (Working title) World rights sold to Hodder & Stoughton 2020.

Hanna Stern, a Jewish orphan of the Holocaust, has grown up in a lonely farmhouse in the English Fens, adopted by Polish aristocrats who fled Europe in the opening weeks of the Second World War. She remembers nothing of her early years when – she is told – she was hidden away from the Nazis in Warsaw, while her parents perished in the camps. One day in 1960, when she is 21, an anonymous letter arrives which changes her life, rewriting her story: she too was sent to a death camp, and as she has survived, so too did her family. With her lover Peter – an American artist – Hanna sets out to find the truth: where is her family now, and how did they escape the fate of millions? The trail leads to Berlin – a city divided by the Cold War – where they track down witnesses from the camp. A parallel story unfolds as the reader is taken back in time to 1944 to walk with the Sterns as they arrive at Taborz – a death camp in Poland. There is turmoil as the Germans prepare to flee in the face of the advancing Red Army, while a desperate hunt is on to find gold looted from the Jews and hidden in the camp. The story of the lost Stern family – and Hanna’s quest – come together in the ruins of East Berlin. The final twist reveals not only the fate of the Stern family, but the identity of the letter-writer who set Hanna on her epic journey of self-discovery.

THE NIGHT RAIDS Published by Allison & Busby, 2020

A lone German bomber crosses the east coast of Britain on a moonless night in the long, hot summer of 1940. The pilot picks up the silver thread of a river and, following it to his target, drops his bombs over Cambridge’s rail yards. The shells fall short of their mark and land in a neighbourhood of terraced streets on the edge of the city’s medieval centre. DI Eden Brooke is first on the scene and discovers the body of an elderly woman, Nora Wylde, in a house on Elm Street, two fingers of her left hand severed, in what looks like an attempt by looters to steal her rings. When the next day Nora’s teenage granddaughter Peggy, a munitions worker, is reported missing, Brooke sets out on an inquiry which will uncover a series of cold-blooded murders. Profiteering, sabotage, and a brutal black market obscure the motives of a killer closer to home – but not before the bomber returns for a final raid.


Cambridge,1940. It is the first winter of the war, and snow is falling. When an evacuee drowns in the river, his body swept away, Detective Inspector Eden Brooke sets out to investigate what seems to be a vicious attack. The following night, a local electronics factory is attacked, and an Irish republican slogan is left at the scene. The IRA is campaigning to win freedom for Ulster, but why has Cambridge been chosen as a target? And when Brooke learns that the drowned boy was in the care of the close-knit local Irish Catholic community, he begins to question whether there may be a connection between the boy's death and the IRA’s so-called S-Plan – for sabotage. As more riddles emerge, can Brooke solve the mystery before the IRA closes in on its next target?


The Philip Dryden mysteries. THE WATER CLOCK (Penguin Books 2003), THE FIRE BABY (Penguin Books, 2004), THE MOON TUNNEL (Penguin Books, 2005), THE COLDEST BLOOD (Penguin Books, 2006), THE SKELETON MAN (Penguin Books, 2007). Overseas editions: US, Germany, Norway, Italy, and Japan. NIGHTRISE (Severn House, 2012), THE FUNERAL OWL (Severn House, 2013)

The Shaw & Valentine mysteries. DEATH WORE WHITE (Penguin Books, 2008), DEATH WATCH (Penguin Books, 2010), DEATH TOLL (Penguin Books, 2011). Overseas editions: US, Japan, Italy. DEATH’S DOOR (Severn House, 2012), AT DEATH’S WINDOW (Severn House, 2014), DEATH ON DEMAND (Severn House, 2015), DEATH SHIP (Severn House, 2016)

The Eden Brooke mysteries. THE GREAT DARKNESS (Allison & Busby, 2018), THE MATHEMATICAL BRIDGE (Allison & Busby, 2019), THE NIGHT RAIDS (Allison & Busby, 2020)

Short story: THE MAN WHO DIDN’T BREATHE. (Graffeg books, 2015). The Starlings & Other Stories. Editor Ann Cleeves.

HANNA. (Working title) (World rights sold to Hodder & Stoughton, 2020)