Reviewed Books.

If you would like me to review a book please contact me for availability.



The Real CSI: A Forensic Handbook for Crime Writers KATE BENDELOW

Who is allowed access to a crime scene? What happens when a body is discovered? Will a blood transfusion alter DNA? How can the distribution of gunshot residue inform your plot? The Real CIS – A Forensic Handbook for Crime Writers answers these questions and more in a unique and exclusive insight into crime scene investigation. Using real-life examples and case studies, experienced CSI Kate Bendelow shines a light behind the yellow tape and debunks the myths popularized by the ‘CSI Effect’. Each chapter explores the latest procedures in contemporary practice including: Crime Scene access and preservation; fingerprints and DNA profiling; footwear; trace evidence; fire scenes; drugs and toxicology and, finally, firearms. Packed with insider knowledge, handy tips and compelling storylines, this is the definitive guide for all crime writers who wish to write with authenticity and authority.”Every crime writer should have a copy of this book on their desk.” Lynda La Plante. Illustrated with 59 colour images.



Dark Angel, Helen H. Durrant.

FLASHPOINT, Derek Thompson

RUTHLESS, Charlie Gallacher.

A Time to Kill, Steven Puleston

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The Soldier’s Home, George Costigan


“A magnificent, big beast of a book!” – renowned playwright Willy Russell


The Soldier’s Home is the stunning sequel to the bestselling debut, The Single Soldier, by actor and writer George Costigan.

‘Beautifully written.’ – Sally Wainwright

The war is over and his home was built…but a home is just a set of empty rooms without people and love. After surviving the devastation, secrets, lies and tragedies of a community under German occupation, can people now rekindle their lives, and rediscover their reasons for suriviving? As the soldier waits for the return of his love, the world keeps moving, threatening to leave his hopes and dreams behind….

History, secrets and painful truths collide in this astonishingly human, warm and emotive sequel from writer George Costigan.


  • Extensive regional and national coverage planned in all media. •Second novel of one of the UK’s best known – and best loved – actors


George Costigan is best known for Rita, Sue and Bob Too and more recently Happy Valley, his acting career has included working with Sally Wainwright, Willy Russell, Alan Clarke and Clint Eastwood. He has directed Daniel Day-Lewis and Pete Postlethwaite, and his writing for the stage includes several Liverpool Everyman pub shows and ‘Trust Byron’, for which he was nominated for Best Actor at the Edinburgh Festival. He and partner Julia North have three sons and one grandson and live in York.


My Review 

I was really looking forward to this novel and jumped at the chance to review it when I saw it was endorsed by one of my favourite playwrights, Willy Russell. This is the second novel in a series but it works well as a standalone. You could even read it as two shorter stories, Enid’s part and Simone’s part.  I adore books that are split like this. I enjoyed this book so much though that I am going to go back and read the first.  The book is very different from many others that I’ve read recently and it feels very original and confident. It flows beautifully and is poetically written.

Costigan is very observant and builds a gradual detailed picture and at no point does the book feel rushed.  The whole novel feels well researched and I think it would appeal to fans of historical fiction as well as romance.  I’ve been reading a lot of fast crime reads lately and this made for an enjoyable change of pace. I don’t normally read romance novels but I thoroughly enjoyed this one. Costigan really makes you care about his characters and I think that’s what’s most important. I am looking forward to more novels by George Costigan.

Buy Link:

Murder never retires, Faith Martin


Looking for a brilliant best-selling murder mystery with a feisty female detective?

DETECTIVE HILLARY GREENE IS BACK! And this time she’s going to solve the most difficult cold cases.

Hillary Greene returns to Thames Valley Police HQ, acting as a consultant for the Crime Review Team, looking into murders which the police have never been able to solve.

She wasn’t sure she wanted to go back. But solving crimes is irresistible for Hillary Greene. And it doesn’t hurt that her new boss is devastatingly handsome.

Twenty years ago, mother-of-three Anna McRae was found beaten to death in her kitchen with a rolling pin. She’d been having an affair with her brother-in-law, so the prime suspect was Anna’s sister Debbie.

However as Hillary digs deeper, more secrets and betrayals emerge. Who wanted Anna dead and can Hillary finally bring her justice?

Meanwhile, Hillary is distracted by an unknown admirer, who quickly seems to be going from suitor to stalker.

Can Hillary solve a fiendishly complex case from the past while fending off unwanted attention?

This is a crime mystery full of well-observed characters, which will have you gripped from start to the absolutely thrilling conclusion.

MURDER NEVER RETIRES is the twelfth in a series of page-turning crime thrillers set in Oxfordshire.

The village of Chesterton, just a few miles from the market town of Bicester. With recent development, the village (like many near large towns) is nowadays in danger of becoming a mere ‘suburb’ of its biggest neighbour. Especially since it’s a stones-throw from Bicester Village — the famous high-end designer-label shopping centre that brings large amounts of UK and foreign shoppers. But at the time of the original murder investigation, it was a village like many to be found in rural Oxfordshire. Surrounded by farmland, it was a peaceful, quiet location. Not the sort of place where you’d expect a shocking murder to happen

DI Hillary Greene
An attractive woman in her forties, Hillary Greene is a retired police detective. She had many years’ experience solving the toughest murder cases, and came up through the ranks. Consequently, she knows how the system works, and is fiercely loyal to the force without being blinkered to its faults. She was popular with the rank and file for her no-nonsense attitude and competence.



Faith Martin has been writing for over 25 years, in four genres and under four different pen names. She was born in Oxford and sets most of her crime novels within sight of the city of dreaming spires. A real nature lover and afficionado of the countryside, descriptions of wildlife and native flora often find their way into her manuscripts. Right now, JOFFE BOOKS are re-issuing the DI Hillary Greene novels in new updated editions! The first 12 books in the series are available now.
Her romance novels, written under the name of Maxine Barry, are now available from Corazon Books. IMPOSTERS In PARADISE, and HEART OF FIRE are both out, and others will very quickly become available in the future.

Her first foray into writing ‘spooky’ crime, (and written under the pen name of Jessie Daniels) comes out in November 2017. THE LAVENDER LADY CASEFILE is published by Robert Hale, an imprint of Crowood Press.

As Joyce Cato, she writes more classically-inspired ‘proper’ whodunits. So, if you like an amateur sleuth, plenty of clues and red herrings, plus a baffling murder mystery to solve, these are the books for you.


My Review

I’ve read quite a few of the DI Hilary Greene series now and I can always say that Faith Martin never disappoints. I was really interested to see what would with a newly retired Hilary.  Hilary has been enjoying retirement traveling on her narrow boat but now she is a police member of staff working within the crime review unit. This novel is part of a well established series but could easily work well as a standalone.  It’s a quick read. I read this novel within one sitting and its full of twists and turns to keep the reader turning the pages. An enjoyable police procedural that I’d highly recommend.

The Secret (EXTRACT) Katharine Johnson

The Secret

June 1st is Publication Day for The Secret by Katharine Johnson


This is the second book set at Villa Leonida, the house at the centre of The Silence which was published last year but it’s a standalone story.

In The Silence some bodies were discovered at Villa Leonida, an idyllic holiday home, during a children’s game of hide-and-seek during a family holiday. They’re found to relate back to the summer of 1992.

A year on, in The Secret, the villa has been put up for sale. Which for elderly resident Sonia can only mean one thing – that the renewed interest and gossip will lead to the discovery of her own secret which relates to that same evening at the villa in 1992.

But while she’s desperate to keep the past hidden another resident, Carlo, can’t leave it alone. He’s determined to discover the truth about a wartime atrocity in which Sonia’s mother and his own played a part.


Here’s the blurb:

Love, lies and betrayal in wartime Italy. Two girls growing up in Mussolini’s Italy share a secret that has devastating consequences. Against a backdrop of fear, poverty and confusion during the Second World War friendship is tested and loyalties divided. But a chance encounter changes everything. The girls’ lives diverge when beautiful, daring Martina marries and moves into Villa Leonida, the most prestigious house I their Tuscan village while plain, studious Irena trains to be a teacher.

But neither marriage, nor life at Villa Leonida are as Martina imagined. And as other people’s lives take on a new purpose, Irena finds herself left behind.

Decades later a tragedy at the villa coincides with the discovery of an abandoned baby whose identity threatens to re-open old wounds. While Irena’s son is determined to get to the truth, Martina’s daughter is desperate to keep the past hidden.


The Secret is published by Crooked Cat Books and is available in paperback £6.99 and kindle £1.99 here: http://thesecretjohnson


Find out more at the Online launch on 1-2  June



About the author

Katharine Johnson likes writing about ordinary people in extraordinary situations. She’s passionate about old houses and the stories they have to tell. She grew up in Bristol and has lived in Italy. She currently lives in Berkshire but spends as much time as she can in the Lucca area of Tuscany. When not writing you’ll find her exploring cities, drinking coffee, playing netball badly and walking her madcap spaniel








“She’s back,” said Irena, looking out onto the piazza. “She’s

got a nerve.”

“Who’s back?” Carlo asked. He was only half-listening

to his mother, while calculating how many tables would be

needed at the restaurant that evening and whether extra

waitresses would be required.

“Martina. Look. Out there in the piazza.”

Carlo joined Irena’s small, stout form at the window, half

his size these days but no less imperious. He followed her

gaze to where Sonia was passing the fountain. “That’s not

Martina, it’s her daughter Sonia. Martina’s dead,


Irena’s voice was full of scorn. “Dead? Since when?”

He placed his hand on her arm. The skin was soft and

papery, a spider’s web of contours. “Must be twenty-five?

Thirty years ago?”

The furrows in his mother’s heavily-lined face deepened

as she thought about this. “No-one told me that. Why didn’t

anyone tell me?”

There was no sense arguing with Irena when she was like

this. At her age, it was hardly surprising she forgot things.

Although lately he’d started to worry that it might be

something more.

“It was when Cass and I were living in New York. You

wrote and told me. You didn’t go to the funeral – it was a

very small affair, from what you said.”

Irena’s stare was hard, her small, dark eyes like raisins in

her weathered face. “Please don’t treat me like an idiot. Of

course I know Martina’s dead. And not a day too soon

either. Good riddance to her.”

She looked as though she might spit but checked herself

and turned away. Her voice trembled. She turned towards

her chair, taking his arm to steady herself.

“What she did wasn’t Sonia’s fault,” Carlo said. “It isn’t

fair to blame her for what happened. There’s been enough of


To change the subject, he placed a box on the table in

front of his mother.

“I found these. Thought you might like to look through


Irena stared at the box but made no move to open it. It

wasn’t unusual for her hands to shake these days, but Carlo

noticed a flicker of panic cross her face, as though she were

afraid her memory might let her down.

“Whatever for?”

He could tell her the doctor had recommended it as a way

of helping reinforce her memories, but why worry her?

“Remember we were talking about the book I wanted to

write for you? The one about the village? I thought these

might help jog some memories.”

She’d talked so often about writing the book but had

never granted herself the time to do it. Always too busy –

and then arthritis had made typing impossible for her. Now,

with dementia setting in, she had all the time in the world

but sometimes couldn’t even write her name.

Several guidebooks had been written about the area, but

none specifically about the village. And all of them talked

about the topology, and the Etruscans, and comfortably distant

historic events, glossing over its more recent past –

the things that mattered.

Carlo had never taken the idea that seriously until now,

but increasingly he was getting a sense that time was

running out. Besides, it might be something he could sell in

the restaurant or to his wife’s property clients – a bit of local

colour. There were so few people left in the village that

remembered what it had been like in the last century. He

couldn’t stand the thought that when his mother died all

those people she’d kept alive for him in her stories would

die, too.

Some of the stories he’d heard so often that he’d stopped

paying proper attention. He’d found himself recounting

them to his daughters, and recently his grandchildren, but

he’d doubtless embroidered these with a few details of his

own so that he was no longer sure he could trust his

memory. He felt a little ashamed now that he’d not paid

more attention.

Perhaps it was already too late. Occasionally you could

still have a lucid conversation with his mother, but so often

these days the talk went round in circles. When had she got

like this? She’d always seemed indestructible.

While most of their neighbours – those that were left –

had packed up and moved away after the war ended, Irena

had stayed and watched Santa Zita’s slow decline, like a

sailor refusing to abandon a sinking ship. Carlo had asked

her hundreds of times to move to the States and live with

them, as she’d once promised, but she’d always been

adamant she couldn’t live anywhere but here. She’d no

more have left Santa Zita than cartwheel round the piazza.

Irena had known everything about everyone in the village

once. And there were still days when she recalled

surprisingly small details about people, but others when she

didn’t know them at all. She’d start a story and then

suddenly lose it.

“No, it’s gone,” she’d say, shaking her head with

frustration. As though her mind was a piece of lace with

some solid bits strung together by a series of holes.

“I know what’s happening to me,” she said, fixing him

with her dark eyes, the way she always had when seeing

straight through an attempted deception. “I know I’m losing

my mind. It happens at my age.”

She shook her head and looked out across the mountains

where a bird of prey was circling.

“Do you know the cruellest thing about it? I forget stupid

things like what I came into the room for, or what I was

about to say. Things I actually need to remember. And yet

the things I most want to forget are clearer now than ever.”

She said this last sentence so quietly he barely heard her.

He took her hand, which suddenly seemed very small.

“What do you mean, things you want to forget?”

She shook her head. She wasn’t going to talk about them






The Gravity of Love, Noelle Harrison


About the book

In love, there’s no such thing as a coincidence …

Scottsville, Arizona, 1989

In small-town America, Joy Sheldon loves the plants that bloom in the desert but longs too for the sea’s elemental wildness. It’s a dream never realised – and now, facing the brutal truth that her husband is a cheat, Joy learns of unimaginable secrets in her early life. Riven by betrayal and loss, a chance encounter with the enigmatic Lewis, Joy embarks on a journey to seek her true identity – and to discover why the sea pulls so strongly at her heart.

Soho, London, 1967

Lewis Bell, abandoned by his mother and responsible for his wayward sister, is now living the dream. An ambitious young graphic designer, he’s aiming for the big time – if only he can keep his creative spark. His talented girlfriend Marnie adds pressures of her own and, as Lewis’s troubles intensify, sixties London fast shows its darker side.

Ballycastle, Ireland, Easter, 1989

Unexpectedly drawn together, Joy and Lewis fly across the Atlantic to the Irish coast. She’s in search of a lost mother; he’s looking for a lost love. They need to make peace with the past, with themselves and others. But the truths they encounter and connections they create will transform everyone’s lives forever.

Bold, intimate and joyful, this glorious novel deftly interweaves decades, continents and lives to tell a story of the irresistible gravity of love.

 About the author

Noelle Harrison is the Irish author of Beatrice, A Small Part of Me, I Remember, The Adulteress & The Secret Loves of Julia Caesar. Her Valentina trilogy was published under the pen name Evie Blake. She has been translated into over 13 different languages, as well as featuring on Der Speigel’s Bestseller List. Noelle was one of 56 Irish writers included in the National Gallery of Ireland anthology and exhibition Lines of Vision, Irish Writers on Art. Now living in Edinburgh, Noelle divides her time between writing fiction, and on art and travel, as well as pursuing a Masters in Creative Writing at Edinburgh Napier University.



My review

The Gravity of love is a stunningly well-written novel about love in all its forms.  Harrison takes the reader on a roller coaster ride of emotions. The book is funny at times, sad, honest and hopeful.  I don’t normally like romance novels and I think that’s because I lot of them don’t feel real but this novel does. Once I started to read it I just couldn’t put it down, it’s extremely clever and I love the fact that it’s set over two different time periods which are woven together. Harrison does a fantastic job of evoking place. She captures a dusty Arizona, London and rainy Ireland.

The gravity of Love is one of those books that stays with you long after you finish it.  I highly recommend it. Its definitely the best book I’ve read this year. I didn’t want it to end but even then Harrison does a wonderful job.  I was hooked from the start and wanted to know what would happen to every character and I think that’s hard to achieve.  I look forward to reading more from Harrison in the future.

Book link

The Gravity of love on Amazon

Crimson Siege: Blood Riders


Crimson Siege ebook cover


Book description


In the Godforsaken badlands of Transylvania the fragile truce between mankind and monsters is about to explode…
When bounty hunters target one of 19th century Europe’s most feared vampire clans, the last place any lawman wants to be is caught in the middle…

But for Anton Yoska, Lord Marshal of the Imperial lands south of the Carpathian Mountains, fate has trapped him in a supernatural stand-off that can end only in a bloodbath.

A gang of mercenaries led by Anton’s former army comrade Milosh Drubrick have captured vampire aristocrat Stefan Modjeski, wanted for a string of frenzied murders, and have come to Anton to claim the reward. And as Stefan’s predatory undead kin lay siege to the jailhouse, Anton is faced with an agonising choice – hand over his prisoner and abandon the bounty hunters to their unspeakable fate, or stand and fight.

The jailhouse defenders are outnumbered and out of options. It’s a battle that can’t be won, certain slaughter for them all, and Anton can’t trust his scheming allies. But Lord Marshal Yoska isn’t about to surrender.

For he’s an experienced vampire hunter, a dangerous man when cornered, and a single minded warrior who knows there are worse things to fear than death…



Jay Raven is the author of Gothic chillers and historical horror reminding readers that the past is a dangerous place to venture, full of monsters and murderous men.

He blames his fascination with vampires, witches and werewolves on the Hammer Horror films he watched as a teenager, but living in a creepy old house on the edge of a 500-acre wood may have something to do with it.




Facebook: pattison.1

Twitter: @jayravenauthor

My Review

This is the first in a new horror series which looked good.  Its not something I’d usually pick up but I fancied a change and I’m glad I did because I thoroughly enjoyed it.  Its gory but not over the top and it is well written with lots of intriguing characters.  Its also very easy and quick to read and I didn’t find it too scary. The only thing I wan’t sure about was the use of modern language in this Gothic chiller, it didn’t quite work for me.  I would read another in this series and I’m looking forward to the sequel.  If you are put off by horror I would also say that it wasn’t too scary and it was a lot of fun to read.

ABSENT, Emma Salisbury



The worst things happen in plain sight.

When he stopped a serial killer in his tracks earlier in the year he thought that would be the end of it, but for DS Kevin Coupland his nightmare has just begun.

A child’s body is discovered hidden in a bag, kicking off a major investigation for Salford Precinct’s murder squad. Soon the National Crime Agency roll into town and Coupland is under strict instructions to play nice.

He’s got enough on his plate to worry about politics. A shock discovery in his personal life is starting to take its toll, causing him to make decisions that bring him to the attention of the powers that be for all the wrong reasons.

DS Alex Moreton returns from maternity leave to find her partner deeply troubled, but with a cold case to review she’s in no position to prevent him hitting the self-destruct button.

As he hunts down the child’s killer Coupland is forced to reflect upon his own life and find an answer to the question he’s been avoiding. Is it possible to accept the things you cannot change?

About the author

I write gritty, crime fiction that focuses on the ‘why’dunnit as well as the ‘who’. I worked for a housing association supporting socially excluded men and women with their return into society, which provided me with a lot of inspiration. If you like hard-boiled crime writers Stuart MacBride, Denise Mina AND Ed James then my Scottish crime series is for you. Fans of Ian Rankin or Mark Billingham-style police procedurals should try my Salford detective series. Like living on the edge? Why not try both…

ONE BAD TURN is the third in my Salford crime series and is available to pre-order now.
No sooner has Detective Sergeant Kevin Coupland stepped off the plane from a family holiday than he gets the call that a woman’s body has been found on a path beside a recreation park in a smart suburb in Salford. Account Manager Sharon Mathers suffered a brutal blow to the head following a night out with friends from work. As the body count rises Coupland makes a startling discovery – the killings… Read More

I write gritty, crime fiction that focuses on the ‘why’dunnit as well as the ‘who’. I worked for a housing association supporting socially excluded men and women with their return into society, which provided me with a lot of inspiration. If you like hard-boiled crime writers Stuart MacBride, Denise Mina AND Ed James then my Scottish crime series is for you. Fans of Ian Rankin or Mark Billingham-style police procedurals should try my Salford detective series. Like living on the edge? Why not try both…
ABSENT is the fourth in my Salford crime series and is available to pre-order now.
ONE BAD TURN is the third in my Salford crime series – No sooner has Detective Sergeant Kevin Coupland stepped off the plane from a family holiday than he gets the call that a woman’s body has been found on a path beside a recreation park in a smart suburb in Salford. Account Manager Sharon Mathers suffered a brutal blow to the head following a night out with friends from work. As the body count rises Coupland makes a startling discovery – the killings are linked to a murder in ’92. Coupland was a probationer back in the nineties – could he be linked in some way to the killer?

A PLACE OF SAFETY is the second of my Salford crime series and opens with a drive-by shooting that leaves a witness in fear for her life. DS Coupland and Moreton return to investigate what looks like a turf war gone wrong when a local gang does everything it can to cover the killer’s tracks. Why is a young woman who happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time such a threat to them? Or as Coupland suspects, is there more to their guilt than meets the eye?

FRAGILE CORD is the first in my Salford Detective series introducing Alex Moreton and Kevin Coupland as they investigate the murder-suicide of a mother and her son. Alex is under pressure from her partner to have another child, but they’re happy as they are, aren’t they? Coupland’s wife is behaving oddly, is he right to be worried?

My Edinburgh crime series featuring Davy Johnson:

When the daughter of Edinburgh’s most powerful crime lord is kidnapped all hell breaks loose in the city. Determined to find her without the hindrance of the police Gus McEwan summons his most reliable men to track her down. Davy Johnson, still reeling from witnessing an horrific suicide is in no position to refuse. As the violence escalates but no ransom note emerges Davy must convince Edinburgh’s most fearsome gangsters that this isn’t about money or power, but something far more primitive.

TRUTH LIES WAITING, the first in my Scottish crime fiction series introduces anti-hero Davy Johnson as his life is thrown into turmoil when a killer strikes in Edinburgh’s underbelly – framing him in the process. TRUTH LIES WAITING will tackle your perception of good v. evil forever.

Fans of Ed James, Stuart Macbride and Ian Rankin will be gripped by the rollercoaster ride through Edinburgh’s colourful underbelly.

Most evenings I can be found walking the family dog on the beach near our home in East Lothian, Scotland. You can find out more on my website and I can be found on twitter @emmasauthor.

My Review

This is the first of this series that I’ve read and I think the reader would enjoy the series more from the start.  This police procedural is well written and pacey which is exactly what I like but it is also very dark and harrowing.  I found the crimes that the book deals with hard to read although well approached. I did find it difficult at times as the book felt real.  I really enjoyed the personal lives of the officers involved in the case and Salisbury does a great job of characterization.

This is a solid read that would work well as a standalone.  I’d definitely recommend to someone who is looking for a well researched police procedural.


(My reviews are shorter than normal at the moment as I’m dealing with a personal situation but I want to keep my commitments. Apologies to my readers.


DEAD BAD, Helen H. Durrant

Dead Bad Cover Image

DEAD BAD by Helen H. Durrant

Available from:

Looking for a brilliant best-selling crime mystery with great detectives?

Detective Calladine and Bayliss face a vicious serial killer in a mystery with a shocking ending.

A woman’s body is found in a disused church, a homemade stuffed toy by her side. The victim had been dumped there months ago. The crime has the hallmarks of twenty-year-old case whose alleged perpetrator is in prison.

Detective Ruth Bayliss must work out whether a serial killer has returned, or whether a new killer is just taunting the police.

Her partner DI Tom Calladine faces the fight of his life to clear his name of corruption accusations. And then things go from bad to worse for Calladine . . .

With the team under massive pressure and drugs flooding the streets, another gruesomely presented body is found.

In an ending with a huge twist, the detectives must unpick decades’ old lies before anyone else dies.

If you like Angela Marsons, Rachel Abbott, Mel Sherratt, Ruth Rendell, or Mark Billingham you will enjoy this exciting new crime fiction writer.

DEAD BAD is book eight of a new series of detective thrillers featuring D.S. Ruth Bayliss and D.I. Tom Calladine.

Tom Calladine is a detective inspector who is devoted to his job. His personal life, however, is not so successful. Having been married and divorced before the age of twenty-one has set a pattern that he finds difficult to escape.

Ruth Bayliss is in her mid-thirties, plain-speaking but loyal. She is balancing her professional life with looking after a small child.

The fictional village of Leesdon on the outskirts of an industrial northern English city. There is little work and a lot of crime. The bane of Calladine’s life is the Hobfield housing estate, breeding ground to all that is wrong with the area that he calls home.





Author Bio

Author photo - helen durrant

OVER 500,000 books sold of her Calladine & Bayliss and DI Greco Series

I’m one of the ‘baby boomer’ generation. I was born in Edinburgh to an English father and Scottish mother. My father was from the North West of England and this was where the family settled.

I know the area well, both the good and the bad, and so I set my books here. Sitting between two counties, Lancashire and Yorkshire, and between the city and the hills, it offers a rich mix of the industrial and the countryside and all the character therein. I always planned to write crime novels — to create the characters in my books. Since my retirement from a busy teaching job in FE, this is what I’ve done — almost to exclusion of anything else!

I have a grown-up family and five grandchildren. They see me as something of an eccentric — always on my laptop writing away. Writing is something of a second career and, despite having a bus pass, keeps me busy, young and tuned in the world as it currently is.

Twitter @hhdurrant


Facebook Page


My Review

‘Dead Bad’ is book eight in The Calladine and Bayliss murder mystery series.  I’ve only read a couple of them so wasn’t sure what to expect with this one. I was very impressed by the prologue which hooked me in straight away and makes for a gripping read.

The novel is very pacey and there are several story strands to follow and each one opens up a host of questions, this is exactly how I like a book to be.  It’s hard to write this review without giving too much away but the characters face some interesting personal turmoil which also makes for good reading and there is a good balance of light and dark moments.  It’s well written and doesn’t feel padded or full of red herrings.  I wanted to spread the book out and read it over several days, but I ended up reading this in one sitting.

This story also works well as a standalone but I think you would get more from the novel if it was read as part of the series.  Helen is going from strength to strength with this series and I can’t wait to read more from her.  I give this book five stars and would highly recommend and I’m looking forward to reading more from Helen H. Durrant.

Extract of The Forgotten

The Forgotten by J.V. Baptie FACEBOOK and TWITTER TEASER

As my debut novel is available to pre order now:

I thought I would post a little extract on this site.

About the Book

Edinburgh, 1977.

Newly-promoted but not welcome in CID, Detective Sergeant Helen Carter is tasked with investigating a murder in an old abandoned picture house.

The killer has left a clue: the business card of an ex-cop.

Helen must piece together the case before the bodies mount up around her, and before the killer strikes closer to home…

Extract of The Forgotten

A bus packed with schoolchildren pulled out in front of her. Helen trickled to a stop and rolled her window down a crack, taking in the icy November air. She liked this time of the year – the dark nights and mornings, the frost, and the good reasons to stay at home. Rows of pebble dashed houses lined both sides of the street, some with black bags of rubbish parked outside their gates. A milk float had stopped on the corner, and the milkman was now heading up the garden path of number 5. She tapped on her steering wheel. She was late and Craven wouldn’t like that. The bus driver stuck out a chubby thumb as a sign of thanks from his side cab.

Slipping the Mini into second gear, she took the left turn down a one-way road. This estate reminded Helen of one of the first cases she worked on – a string of petty robberies. A boy of about eighteen who’d do odd jobs for the elderly then rob them blind. She shook her head, remembering chasing him up the street with her little truncheon that was half the size of the ones given to her male colleagues, all the while, trying not to trip over her regulation handbag that kept slipping off her shoulder.

The fire-wrecked building was easy to spot. She watched the shaky single-decker bus accelerate away until it was a speck in the distance. The Boardwalk Picture House had been a triumph of 1930s Art Deco architecture. A once whitewashed building now grey with soot. All its windows either boarded up with chipboard or smashed over the years by kids, and what they couldn’t smash they’d sprayed graffiti on. She parked behind a Rover. Her stomach churned. She pulled the key out of the ignition and slipped it into her tan leather jacket pocket. Helen screwed her eyes shut and wished that time would stop. ‘In for two and out for two.’ She practised her breathing exercise and forced her eyes open. Analysing herself in the rear-view mirror, she noticed her brown eyes looked red and blotchy. Last night at Ted’s she’d only managed a couple of hours sleep before she was needed on shift.

A sharp knock at the passenger-side window pulled her back to reality. She let out a gasp and turned to see the broad features of Detective Inspector Jack Craven peering in. Her cheeks burned.

‘Are you coming in or what?’ Craven walked around to the driver’s side just as she was getting out and opened the door wide for her. He smelt sickly sweet – a combination of Old Spice and smoke.

‘I did wonder when you planned on showing up.’

‘Sorry, Inspector.’

‘I thought you lot were meant to be good at telling the time,’ Craven replied. He was wearing a brown tailored suit that had gone shiny at the cuffs. His yellow shirt was creased at the collar and looked slept in. The top two buttons were open, showing a sprinkling of salt and pepper chest hair. He didn’t seem to be that much older than her – a really handsome guy but his face had been hardened by drink. Even his eyes had a tinge of yellow in them.

He made a show of looking her up and down and smiled. ‘Well, at least we will have something nice to look at in the department. I didn’t mean to give you a fright, pet. Caught you doing your lipstick, eh?’ He looked braced to say something else but instead closed the car door and began to walk towards the crowd.

‘Thank you for this opportunity, sir.’

‘You don’t need to thank me.’ He slipped her a sideways glance. ‘Well, you’re not going to be here long anyway.’

‘I’m planning to be,’ Helen stated.

‘Nah,’ he snorted. ‘You’ll get married, have bairns and that’ll be the end o’ it.’

Not this again. ‘You don’t know that.’ She followed him. ‘I haven’t heard of this place before.’

‘Aye, is that so?’ He looked her up and down again. ‘Suppose you would’ve been too young.’

Craven snorted. ‘We’ve got a nice little one for your first job in CID.’

‘So I’ve been told.’

‘He was found by a couple of wee laddies this morning.’ Craven flicked his roll-up end into a puddle and fished in his pocket for his tobacco pouch. ‘You’ve no’ got any real fags, have you?’

‘I don’t smoke—’

‘Of course, you wouldnae.’

She shook her head. ‘Sorry.’

Craven’s smile faded. ‘I better get you up to speed on what we’ve got here. It’s not pretty in there. There’s no wallet or I.D. on him and the body’s practically still warm.’

‘Could it have been a robbery? Then maybe someone dumped him in an old building? Expecting him not to be found so quickly?’

‘Doubtful.’ Craven shrugged then lit his roll-up. ‘If you want to rob somebody, you don’t torture them slowly to death. Looks like the boy suffered and someone wanted him to.’

Helen’s stomach knotted at the thought and she changed the subject. ‘How long’s this place been shut down?’ Her leather handbag thumped against her thigh. She wished she had left it in the car.

‘Around five years. I think. The door was open and it looks like tramps have been dossing inside.’ He stopped in his tracks and turned to face her. ‘Right, let’s get this out in the open before we get in there. I’ve no’ had a WPC on one of my cases like this before.’  ‘I’m not.’

‘Not what?’

‘A WPC. It’s Sergeant Carter actually, Inspector, and I can assure you that—’

‘Carter… I know, Detective Inspector Richard Carter.’ He shook his head. ‘I know exactly who you are and I know exactly why you are here.’ He pointed his finger at her. ‘I don’t run things like he did.’ He shook his head. ‘This is just a box-ticking exercise for the DCI. It makes him look modern and that’ll help him get his promotion.’

Helen bit down on her lip to stop her saying what she wanted to, that she wasn’t there because of her father. Even though that’s what they all said, it was easy to dismiss her that way. To ignore and belittle her. She thought back to when she told her dad she wanted to be in the police and he burst out laughing, then when he realised she was serious, he couldn’t hide the look of disappointment on his face and his comments about her waste of an education and how he wanted a better life for her.

‘I’m not here because of my dad, sir,’ she finally replied. ‘If I was, life would have been a lot easier for me. I’m here to fill your staff shortage and I’ll do my best for however long I’m needed.’

‘Aye, right.’

‘No, it is right.’ She took a step closer to him and frowned, not wanting to anger her senior officer further.

He gave her a wry smile. ‘Christ, I was only having a laugh, pet. Women dealing with cases like this in the CID, what’s bloody next?’

‘Me being here is nothing to do with anyone else. And this is not my first murder either.’ Her heart pounded. ‘So will we just get in there or do you want to stand out here chatting all day?’ Surprising herself at her own outburst.


The Forgotten by J.V. Baptie 3D Book Cover Mockup

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