‘Well of the Winds,’ by Denzil Meyrick

Well of the Winds

This is more like it. I was disappointed with Denzil Meyrick’s previous DCI Jim Daley novel, The Rat Stone Serenade (reviewed a little south of here). But Well of the Winds is (to my taste) a much better novel, showcasing the strengths of this engaging police series.

On the island of Gairsay, near Daley’s town of Kinloch, a Jewish family has lived for years. They came as refugees during World War II, and settled well into community life. But one day the mailman arrives to find them all vanished. Shortly afterward the body of the oldest of them, the grandmother, is found washed up on a beach in Ireland.

When Jim’s sergeant Brian Scott goes to investigate, he discovers a hidden cellar under the house – concealing a trove of old documents in German, apparently Nazi in orientation. Who were these people, really?

Although Special Branch and MI6 rush in to take over the investigation, Jim’s new superior, Superintendent Carrie Symington, insists that they carry on their own inquiries, in secret. Jim himself is contacted by a mysterious stranger, who gives him an old journal dating back to 1945. It was written by one of Jim’s predecessors in Kinloch, a detective named Urquhart who disappeared mysteriously in the wake of an unsolved murder. As Jim studies the journal, old secrets come to light.

Unlike the overblown and overcolored previous book in the series, Well of the Winds keeps the story smaller, simpler, and more local, as well as more character-driven. I liked it a lot, right up to the end, which was somewhat frustrating – but probably on purpose, to prime us for the next installment. Some skepticism about the European Union seems to be in evidence here, which doesn’t lose the book any points with me.

Recommended, with the usual cautions.

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