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Wednesday 10 July 2024

‘Dig Two Graves’ by Helen H. Durrant

Published by Joffe Books,
7 March 2024.
ISBN  978-183526492-8 (PB)

Dig Two Graves is the first in a new series of books by the prolific Police Procedural author Helen Durrant. It features Superintendent Headly Sharpe – an irascible, curmudgeonly individual rapidly approaching retirement. His cynical take on life is often at odds with those of his more sympathetic sidekick DI Stuart Vasey. Despite their different approaches the two men work well together.

A dead body with a single shot to the head is found in a cellar beneath an empty shop. Sharpe and his DI are called to investigate the crime scene. The body had lain there for over a year. A second body is found in the cellar next door on the following day also shot in the head although this murder is recent, and the victim identified as that of a local homeless man known as Cowboy. The first victim is eventually identified as Dean Rawlins a gangster who Headly Sharpe believes was responsible for murdering his wife but has managed to evade justice despite all police attempts.

The pace of this novel is fast and furious. Every chapter raises yet another question, and the picture becomes more and more complicated as the investigation proceeds. Further down the line, it becomes clear that things are not quite what they seem. Everyone appears to have their own agenda. Can their stories be believed? What is it that they are keeping secret?

Although the reader is compelled to keep reading by the breakneck action, Hellen Durrant’s characters are skilfully defined by their dialogue. In less experienced hands, Superintendent Headly Sharpe might well be a difficult character to like but I found myself drawn to this outwardly difficult man from the beginning because I had absolute faith in his ability to find his way through the web of confusion and uncover the truth.

I loved this book – one of the best I’ve read in recent months – and I have no hesitation in recommending it.   
Reviewer: Judith Cranswick  

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 twenty six 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!  

Judith Cranswick was born and brought up in Norwich. Apart from writing, Judith’s great passions are travel and history. Both have influenced her two series of mystery novels. Tour Manager, Fiona Mason takes coach parties throughout Europe, and historian Aunt Jessica is the guest lecturer accompanying tour groups visiting more exotic destinations aided by her nephew Harry. Her published novels also include several award-winning standalone psychological thrillers. She wrote her first novel (now languishing in the back of a drawer somewhere) when her two children were toddlers, but there was little time for writing when she returned to her teaching career. Now retired, she is able to indulge her love of writing and has begun a life of crime! ‘Writers are told to write what they know about, but I can assure you, I've never committed a murder. I'm an ex-convent school headmistress for goodness sake!’ Her most recent book is Passage to Greenland

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