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Monday, 21 December 2020

‘The Guilty Man’ by Helen H Durrant

Published by Joffe Books,
29 October 2020.
ISBN 978-1-78931-581-3 (PB)

 DI Harry Lennox is a good detective. He’s also young, good looking, and very frightened of somebody from his past.  Right now, he’s the bane of Sergeant Jess Wilde’s life because he’s drinking too much, he’s never there when needed, and he won’t share his problems with her.

Harry and Jess are presented with two cases to solve in the northern town of Ryebridge.  The first case involves two major drug dealers in the town, Nick Sutton and Andy Marsh. Both end up dead having had a hand cut off whilst they were still alive.  As the dealers had reached a reasonably amicable agreement to share the town’s territory, the signs are that there is another player in town. One who operates in a much bigger league than Nick and Andy. But who? 

 The second case concerns a three-year-old Lucy Green. After going missing for five weeks, Lucy reappears. She had been well fed and clothed. Lucy’s drug addict mother, Kelsey Green, dies after taking drugs loaded with fentanyl.  Others living on the run-down Baxendale estate die from the same drug mix.  Their deaths are suspiciously convenient as they free up houses to shelter the illegal immigrants who have been brought to the town for the usual range of reasons associated with drugs, prostitution and slave labour.

Harry and Jess have just about worked out what is going on, but not who is behind it all, when Marcus Edge from the National Crime Agency steps in and starts ordering them about.  Marcus is only interested in the national picture. In the hope of finding out who is in charge of the wider international operation, he instructs Harry to cooperate with the local gang master, Kamel. Harry and Jess push back against Marcus when they find his methods towards their local population unacceptably brutal and even unethical. Whilst this is going on Sandy Munro, Harry’s old boss from Glasgow, appears on the scene. Harry tells Sandy what’s going on and enlists his help in tracking down one of his old enemies.  Harry agrees to help.

Harry Lennox is a very likable lead character and Jess, his no-nonsense sergeant, makes a good foil for him as she tries to keep him grounded.  The story moves along at a good pace until both crimes are solved and a neat link is uncovered between them.

The Guilty Man is the first in the series of Detective Lennox and Wilde thrillers. Apart from a) finding somewhere to live now that the camper van he was slumming in has been blown up b) sorting out his traumatic past, and c) alighting on a suitably romantic liaison to replace his wife Anthea - she threw him out because she couldn’t cope with his terrible nightmares. I’m sure there will also be plenty more crimes for Harry and Jess to solve in Ryebridge.

Reviewer: Angela Crowther

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!

Angela Crowther  is a retired scientist.  She has published many scientific papers but, as yet, no crime fiction.  In her spare time Angela belongs to a Handbell Ringing group, goes country dancing and enjoys listening to music, particularly the operas of Verdi and Wagner.

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