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The Language of the Dead

German bombers are arriving daily, seeking to crush England. But in a rural Hampshire village, things have remained fairly quiet-until an elderly loner, Will Blackwell, is brutally murdered. The method of his killing bears the hallmarks of the traditional vanquishing of a witch, and indeed, local legend claims that as a boy, Blackwell encountered a ghostly black dog sent from the devil, who struck a bargain for Blackwell's soul. Not long after the murder, a young woman who is carrying the illegitimate child of a fighter pilot also is violently killed; then a local drunkard ends up in the race of an abandoned mill with the back of his head bashed in. As the Germans continue their relentless attack, Detective Inspector Thomas Lamb rushes to solve the crimes. Do the killer's motivations lie in the murky regions of the occult?
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About the Author

Stephen Kelly is an award-winning writer, reporter, editor and newspaper columnist. His work has appeared in the Baltimore Sun, The Washington Post and Baltimore Magazine. He has a Master of Arts degree from the Johns Hopkins University Writing Seminars and has taught writing and journalism at Hopkins, Towson University, in Baltimore, and Sweet Briar College, in Virginia. He lives in Columbia, Maryland.


"Kelly fantastically recreates the claustrophobic mood of England under siege with period details." -- Cleveland Plain Dealer "Fans of well-researched historical mysteries, particularly the work of Charles Todd and Charles Finch, will welcome this solid debut that introduces a complex, driven hero who is both a product of his time and relatable in our modern age. Here's hoping this will be the first of many installments featuring the endearing Lamb." -- Library Journal "A fine-grained first novel." -- Kirkus Reviews "Kelly does a good job of juxtaposing the subtle ways the tensions of the crimes combine in all the characters with the tensions of the times. A very promising debut." -- Open Letters Monthly "Readers of the wonderful Charles Todd series will recognize the premise of a former soldier-turned-cop affected by the war but debut novelist Stephen Kelly makes this novel both reassuring and fresh. Vivid. Readers will look forward to spending more time with these characters." -- WABE-FM, NPR Atlanta "Charles Todd fans will welcome Kelly's first novel, a superior whodunit set in WWII England. Detective Chief Inspector Thomas Lamb, who's haunted by his experiences in WWI, is a complex lead meriting further outings." -- Publishers Weekly "The crusty Lamb is a well-conceived character, but what makes the novel work is Kelly's portrait of the village and the almost palpable sense of menace that comes from the possibility of a Nazi invasion." -- Booklist

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