The Mathematical Bridge (Nighthawk)

Written by Jim Kelly
Review by Douglas Kemp

Cambridge, England in the cold and snow-laden New Year of 1940. Detective Inspector Eden Brooke, a veteran from the Great War whose eyesight was damaged in the conflict, attempts to rescue a five-year-old Catholic boy, Sean Flynn, from the River Cam; he is seen in a sack rapidly floating in the freezing waters. Sean had only just arrived as an evacuee from London. When there is an explosion caused by Irish nationalists at a local factory that is involved in highly classified war work, Brooke begins to wonder whether there may be a connection between the two events. His investigations uncover a sorry tale of treachery, duplicity and betrayal, with quite a few unforeseen twists in the plot to surprise the reader.

The depiction of wartime Cambridge is excellent, with detailed researched topographical details on the war-time university city. There is the common occasional fault of characters using phrases that were not current at the time – it is an irritating tendency, and one that should be quite easy to eradicate (such as the term “bragging rights”, and referring to the Celtic Queen Boudicca when she was widely known as Boadicea at that time). Nevertheless, it is a very capably constructed narrative, with a story that is both intelligent and absorbing. Brooke is a rounded, well-depicted character – he suffers from insomnia, again most probably a result of his experiences in North Africa in the War, but in his 50s, has a surprisingly tactile and close relationship with his wife. This is the second book in the Nighthawk series, and it is recommended for intelligent and well-written crime fiction.