Dead Corse - Mary Kelly

In the end the calls and reports and questions were done. The foreman sent for a car to take me home. I was too shaken to drive.
He’d brought it on himself. Had he? Where does the blaming start or stop, if it ever does?
Clive, Morley, Mrs Vere, Allie, Skipton – whatever is brought on them they bring on others and have it brought back on themselves. Blame becomes meaningless. Everyone deserves it, or no one. 

It may be that the book benefited from my reading the bulk of it on the heels of a very unsatisfactory read, but I thought this book was fantastic.

Yes, some parts of the plot were predictable, but overall I was not bored for one instance with this story, I really got to care for the characters, and the social commentary on a number of topics, not just one of the issues at the heart of the book, was well thought out and quite out there for a book penned in 1966.

The first of Kelly’s books that I read was The Christmas Egg, which is pretty much a straight mystery. A short glance on Wikipedia tells me that Kelly was known as a crime and mystery writer.

Dead Corse does not really fall into either category, even if there is a mystery to set the book off and there is a crime at the heart of the story.

At first, I thought of Kelly’s style being comparable to that of some the “angry young men” – Silitoe and Barstow came to mind – but this is not where the book was at. Kelly took in a much wider angle in her description of a smallish community that is based around a steelworks, and that is dependent on the steelworks, and this is at the same time in a state of change away from that still somewhat Victorian industrial setting.

I very much enjoyed the book for this aspect alone. And yet, there is a lot more to the book and to the characters. I much prefer Kelly’s style in Dead Corse to that of many other books penned in the same decade – it’s honest without being self-righteous, and it’s smart without trying to actually come off as clever.

I already look forward to reading her other books.

4.5* (out of 5*)

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