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Monday 1 July 2019

‘Dead Guilty’ By Helen H Durrant

Published by Joffe Books,
April 2019.
ISBN: 978-1-7893-1105-1 (PB)

Helen Durrant’s books are set in an area she knows well.  The hills, villages and once industrial Pennine towns on the Lancashire Yorkshire border. Places where the well-heeled and the getting by rub shoulders somewhat uneasily. This is a rich vein to mine. Sixteen novels so far - the Calladine and Bayliss mysteries, the DI Greco series and a recent first book featuring DCI Rachel King.

I come to Dead Guilty without having read any of Durrant’s body of work.  It is my first acquaintance with DI Tom Calladine (a career copper, living alone, with a less than successful relationship history) and DS Ruth Bayliss (a long-time friend and colleague, married, and sometimes a clearer thinker when the going gets tough).

This is book number 9 in the series.  The story opens with the disappearance of a child.  Richard Alder and his wife Annie are local examples of the getting by who have made it big; brought up on a sink estate, now living high on the hog.  Their 3-year-old daughter Sophie is missing, presumed kidnapped, although the Alders await the ransom note.  When it arrives, the mystery only deepens.

Meanwhile there is a huge spike in street crime in the town.  A spate of burglaries and a major increase in drug incidents, has resulted in the formation of a vigilante group and a series of vicious night patrols. Cases bleed into each other, and this is handled skilfully by the author.  The operation to find Sophie Alder becomes mired in drug dealing and murder; and a desperate search for a person known as ‘Street’ - apparently the brains behind the drugs boom.

Child kidnapping, murder, drugs and men taking the law into their own hands – this is all big stuff.  The story runs in a linear fashion through 11 days and truly motors along, with a satisfying number of twists and turns.  Genuinely a page turner. 

Dead Guilty is clearly a welcome addition to the series and will be well received by fans of Calladine and Bayliss.
Reviewer: Jeff Dowson

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!

Jeff Dowson is a TV writer/producer/director turned crime novelist. Screen credits include arts and entertainment features, drama series and TV films. Closing the Distance, Changing the Odds, and Cloning the Hate, feature Bristol private eye Jack Shepherd. The latest in the series, Bending the Rules, is about to be released. One Fight At A Time opens a new series set in post-World War 2 Bristol, featuring American GI Ed Grover.  Jeff is a member of BAFTA and the Crime Writers Association.

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