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Thursday 29 July 2021

‘Dead Sorry’ by Helen H. Durrant

Published by Joffe Books,
17 June 2021.
ISBN 978-1-78931-831-9

In the northern town of Leesdon, DI Calladine has a lot to contend with.  His personal and professional lives have become entwined, and his body is indicating that he has heart problems.  His sergeant, Ruth Bayliss is worried about him, but will he listen, of course not.

A former adversary, Andrei Lazarov provides Calladine’s main cause for concern.  The DI has busted Lazarov’s drugs empire and turned him into a fugitive. In return, the drugs baron is out to kill Calladine, but before he does that, he intends to maim and kill Calladine’s daughter, Zoe, and her new baby. Only when Zoe and the baby are hidden in a safe house can Calladine concentrate on his work.

Addict Becca O’Brien is found battered to death on the Hobfield estate. It turns out that she was the mother of one of the schoolgirls linked to a 25-year-old unsolved incident in which one of their classmates was murdered.  The Hobfield estate is a centre for drug dealing, but Johnno - a drug dealer and a friend of Becca’s - tells Calladine he has no idea who murdered her. Calladine assumes Becca’s death is probably related to a new drugs war and advises Johnno to lie low and keep out of Lazarov’s way.

Whilst Calladine is leaving the Hobfield estate, his car is “accidentally” pranged by an attractive young woman who introduces herself as Kitty Lake. Kitty manages a nearby café and invites him for a meal to make up for damaging his car.  Why is she so interested in the DI?  Is she out to entrap him or does she fancy him? Calladine plays along because he likes her, though he wonders if Kitty’s involved in the murder. When three young lads are executed on the Hobfield, the number of murders on Calladine’s plate increases to four current plus the historical one.  DCI Greco and Calladine and their juniors divide the work between them.

Just to add a little more spice to life, Calladine’s cousin’s wife, Marilyn is released early from prison – she murdered his cousin. Marilyn insists on moving in with Calladine and her dog Sam whom Calladine has been looking after. What is she and the director of the local museum up to?  Are they involved in the murders, is she helping to get Calladine killed, or could they be more interested in the gold treasure due to arrive at the museum in a few days’ time?

Dead Sorry is a complicated tale. It roars along at an enormous pace and paints a horribly realistic picture of the trials and tribulations of the depressed and deprived lives of those unfortunate enough to end up on the dreadful Hobfield estate. It is the eleventh book in the series but can easily be read as a stand-alone story.  Tom Calladine and Ruth Bayliss are likable characters who form a good team.  So far, I have only read one other in the series, but I am looking forward to reading more.  My only hope is that the ladies in Calladine’s life manage to persuade him to look after himself a bit better as I would hate the series to come to a premature end.

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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