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Wednesday 18 August 2021

‘Dead To Me’ by Cath Staincliffe

Published by Corgi,
12 April 2012.
ISBN: 978-0-552-16715-4

If the reader has already seen the excellent ‘Scott and Bailey’ series on ITV, then their impressions of this book are bound to be influenced by the screen version for this book is the prequel to the show, showing how Rachel Bailey first came to join the crime team. Which makes it rather like reading the first book in a series when you have read all the others that came after it.  You are already familiar with the characters but it is interesting to see how they slowly gell together, knowing what is going to happen to their relationships in the

Rachel is impetuous, hot headed and a loose cannon, all of which is put down to her deprived, underclass background. Mum ran off, Dad a drunkard, little brother in prison. But she really wants to make it in the police force where she is paired with the older, sensible Janet under the watchful eye of her boss, Gill.         

Janet is having the first stirrings of boredom with her nice but boring husband. Gill is trying to make a life with her son Sammy now that her philandering detective husband is shacked up with his uniform slag.         

Cath Staincliffe’s real talent is that although we read the book to find out who has killed the teenage druggie, Lisa Finn, it is the personal lives of Gill, Janet and Rachel that take predominance. She recognises that however involved you are in any job, in the end it is family and the day to day routine of your own life that must take priority. Not many crime writers give this a proper emphasis.          

And so to the crime. Lisa ,17 discovered half naked and stabbed. No knife found. Boyfriend main suspect but Rachel is suspicious of the victim’s care home background. Lots of false trails. Very plausible ending. Defintely a page turner.  At  times you could be reading a manual of police procedure, so accurate is the author with all the details. And, of course, if you’ve seen the TV series, you know what happens next which makes it difficult for the follow up book. But, these small matters aside, Dead to Me is one of the best crime books I have read this year and a series that could run and run.
Reviewer: Ron Ellis

Cath Staincliffe was brought up in Bradford and hoped to become an entomologist (insects) then a trapeze artist before settling on acting at the age of eight.  She graduated from Birmingham University with a Drama and Theatre Arts degree and moved to work as a community artist in Manchester where she now lives with her family. Looking for Trouble, published in 1994, launched private eye Sal, a single parent struggling to juggle work and home, onto Manchester’s mean streets.  It was short listed for the Crime Writers Association’s John Creasey best first novel award, serialised on BBC Radio 4, Woman’s Hour and awarded Le Masque de l’Année in France.  Cath has published a further seven Sal Kilkenny mysteries. Cath is also a scriptwriter, creator of ITV’s hit police series, Blue Murder, which ran for five series from 2003 – 2009 starring Caroline Quentin as DCI Janine Lewis.  Cath writes for radio and created the Legacy drama series which features a chalk-and-cheese, brother and sister duo of heir hunters whose searches take them into the past lives of families torn apart by events. Trio, a stand-alone novel, moved away from crime to explore adoption and growing up in the 1960s.  Cath’s own story, of tracing and being re-united with her Irish birth family and her seven brothers and sisters, featured in the television documentary Finding Cath from RTE. Cath is a founder member of Murder Squad, a virtual collective of northern crime writers.  She is an avid reader and likes hill-walking, messing about in the garden and dancing (with far more enthusiasm than grace).

Ron Ellis. Writer, Broadcaster and Photographer, Ron is the author of the popular series of crime novels set on Merseyside featuring Liverpool radio D.J./Private Eye, Johnny Ace.
He also writes the D.C.I. Glass mystery series. As well as his fiction titles, Ron has written 'Southport Faces' a social history of the town seen through the eyes of 48 of its best-known residents. His 'Journal of a Coffin Dodger', the hilarious adventures of an 84 year old playboy, has been serialised on BBC Radio and poems from his collection of poetry, 'Last of the Lake Poets', have won several nationwide competitions. During the 1980's, he conducted over 192 interviews with friends and relatives of John Lennon for Albert Goldman's biography, 'The Lives of John Lennon'. Ron writes the football reports for the Southport Champion and is also their theatre and arts reviewer as well as being a regular contributor to magazines such as Lancashire Life.
He runs his own publishing company, Nirvana Books.

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