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Thursday 27 June 2019

‘Next Victim’ by Helen H Durrant

Published by Joffe Books,
15 January 2019.
ISBN: 978-1-78931-066-5 (PB_

There's a savage murderer at large on the mean streets of Manchester, especially on one of the meanest of all – Canal Street, famous for its gay bars and nefarious goings-on.

A young man's mutilated body is found, and DCI Rachel King is tasked with hunting down his killer, who has shown particularly vicious tendencies and left no DNA trace. The only clue is a handful of nuts and bolts found by the body, and that appears to lead nowhere.

Rachel is already juggling a pair of difficult teenage daughters, a demanding ex-husband and a former lover with a background that would threaten her career; add in a high-pressure case in one of the most demanding jobs in existence, and it's small wonder she's permanently exhausted, and much of the time has no idea what her girls are up to. Her detective sergeant Elwyn Pryce is a gem: calm, well organized, perceptive; but even he has issues in his personal life, and she dare not confide in him.

As the body count rises the mystery deepens; Rachel is working long hours, and it's down to her whole team to rise to the challenge. Young DC Jonny Farrell is naïve but keen; DC Amy Metcalfe is ambitious but laid-back and reluctant to get her hands dirty. All the same, it's Amy who eventually comes up trumps – just as Rachel herself is finding that the entire case is coming a little too close to home.

It all adds up to a pacy murder mystery with a crew of sharply drawn characters and a vivid sense of place. The traffic on the A6, Canal Street's upbeat but slightly dark ambience and the cosiness of Rachel's home village are all well portrayed – though as a former resident of the area, I did have a question or two about the geography!

Enough loose ends are left dangling to make the reader wonder what next for Rachel King. I'd be very interested to find out.
Reviewer: Lynne Patrick

Helen H. Durrant writes gritty police procedurals and is published by Joffe Books. Until six years ago she hadn’t written a word, now she has sixteen titles out there and counting. Her novels are set in the Pennine villages outside Manchester. Writing was a dormant ambition. It was retirement that gave her the opportunity to have a go. The success of her books came as a huge surprise, now she can’t stop!

Lynne Patrick has been a writer ever since she could pick up a pen, and has enjoyed success with short stories, reviews and feature journalism, but never, alas, with a novel. She crossed to the dark side to become a publisher for a few years, and is proud to have launched several careers which are now burgeoning. She lives on the edge of rural Derbyshire in a house groaning with books, about half of them crime fiction.

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