Dead Jealous is the seventh book in Helen H. Durrant’s Calladine and Bayliss series.
A teenage girl’s badly decomposed body is found in the back of a car on the notorious Hobfield housing estate. The girl’s mother did not report her missing. Meanwhile, a cold case from Tom Calladine’s initial days as a constable comes back to haunt him. A two-year-old Jessie Wilkins went missing from the park two decades ago. Her mother left her in the pram and went to buy ice cream. When she returned, the child was gone. Calladine and rest of the coppers spent months trying to find the child. With no clues to proceed, the search slowly fizzled out. Fast forward to the present, a woman brings an old jar to the police station. It was found wrapped in a blanket, with a child’s pink hairclip. The jar contains ashes and bone fragments.
Confession: If I was to make a best of Calladine and Bayliss list, I would include all the books in the series. I don’t think I can choose one or two best books – each and every book I have read till date are equally good.
We have two mysteries here – one, the murder of a teenage girl in Hobfield; two, a cold case involving the disappearance of a child. The child’s mother, Josie, lives in Hobfield estate. When the jar containing bone fragments and ashes are found, Calladine pays a visit to Josie. Josie was an addict and when Jessie went missing, Josie had a mental breakdown. If not for Josie’s sister Tracey, Josie would have been dead by now. Josie and Tracey pay a visit to Duggan (the place where all of Leesdon’s autopsies and forensics are conducted) where they recognize the blanket and hairclip as that of little Jessie’s. The readers are then made aware of the fact that Tracey and Josie have something to hide – something related to Jessie’s disappearance.
Meanwhile, Sean Hopwood, a notorious loan shark at Hobfield is creating problems for the tenants. He’s violent and grievously harms those who fail to pay money on the due date. Both the victims’ mothers are terrified by Sean’s antics. Calladine wonders if Sean had any role to play in the death of the teenager.
We have a lot of developments here. Ruth and Jake are going through a rough patch – this affects Ruth’s work a tad. Meanwhile, Shez, Calladine’s girlfriend… um, well she’s his ex-girlfriend now. Casanova Calladine was dumped via text message. Wait, I am not done yet. Calladine has a new neighbour… she’s pretty, single and *winks* you know what happens next.
The previous book – Dead Nasty – ended with Calladine and team losing one of their teammates. Imogen Goode was killed by Craig Donnelly. Julian Batho, her boyfriend and forensic scientist at the Duggan, is still trying to cope with losing the love of his life. The Leesdon police have a new joinee – Nigel Hallam (Imogen’s replacement) – but the poor chap has a hard time adjusting; not his fault, though. Calladine and his teammates indirectly blame Nigel for Imogen’s death – it was due to his findings that Imogen went in search of the killer on her own.
The dead teenager’s friends have something to hide. They did not report her missing and neither did her mother. Calladine learns the girl’s mother received a text saying she’ll be back mid-week. Sean Hopwood’s nasty behaviour is taking a toll on Hobfield’s residents so they have a plan to put an end to it…
Once again, we have Ruth Bayliss supply Calladine with a vital clue – this makes Calladine see the case from a new angle. One of the witnesses that fateful day was Monika (Calladine’s ex). So, it looks like a Calladine has to pay Monika a visit. Ooh, it’s not going to be easy…
In the latter part of the story, we see Leesdon police get another new joinee; Not someone new – she made an appearance previously. It goes without saying Helen is a master storyteller. I would love to see this series on screen. The spotlight is not only on solving two mysteries but also on the characters’ personal lives. We have two killers here – Ruth solves one of the mysteries while Calladine solves the other. The mystery behind the murders and the identities of the perps are kept a secret until the end. I couldn’t identify them – not until they were brought for questioning…
Highly recommended police procedural series. One of the best series I have ever read. Consistent writing, gripping mysteries and mind-blowing twists.