Dead Bad is the eighth book in Helen H. Durrant‘s Calladine and Bayliss series.
Calladine is down with a bout of Shingles. DCI Birch asks him to go home, take rest, visit a doctor and not infect the rest of his teammates with the virus. Calladine is prepping for the upcoming trial of Vincent Costello, the notorious gang leader Calladine arrested recently. Meanwhile, a serial killer is on prowl. His victims are cleaners. He hits them on the head, tortures and nails them to wooden planks and leaves a teddy bear stuffed with the victim’s hair on the dead body. There is a new drug on the street and it is creating havoc in Hobfield. Youngsters are taken to the ER and some have a brush with death. Is there a new drug lord in town?
Wow! Kidnapping, a serial killer on prowl and a drug lord trying to make his mark in the notorious housing estate of Hobfield, Calladine and Ruth certainly have their hands full this time. Oh wait, it is just Ruth in the beginning because Calladine is down with Shingles.
The detectives not one or two but three cases to solve this time. On top of police work, Calladine and Ruth are also hit by a series of personal problems. Ruth’s partner Jake wants to move to a different city where he’s got a job as a teacher at a private school. Ruth doesn’t want to leave Leesdon, the place where she spent her entire life so far. Calladine is down with Shingles and is asked to take rest for a few days. But that goes awry when he gets kidnapped on his way home. DCI Birch gets a tip from an informant that Calladine has accepted a bribe and has run away so that he doesn’t have to give his testimony at the Costello case in court. Now, now, the Calladine we know would never do such a horrible thing!
The spotlight is not on the serial killer but on Calladine’s disappearance and what led to his kidnapping. The serial killer’s M.O. is same as that of a case from twenty years ago. The perp was caught and is currently in gaol. So, is this a copycat killer? Or, was the wrong person arrested twenty years ago? Ruth has her doubts. She’s in charge of the team and partners up with Rocco (as Calladine is missing). We have a crossover character from one of Helen’s other police procedurals – DCI Greco. Greco has made an appearance in one of the previous stories. This time, he’s here to investigate Calladine. The watercooler talk is, Greco had an affair with one of his colleagues and it went horribly wrong. Calladine’s team is not on friendly terms with Greco anyways so they don’t interfere in his work or personal matters (except for gossiping about it).
I certainly felt Calladine’s kidnapping added a dash of thrill to the story. The reason for kidnapping, which Calladine discovers in the latter half of the story, sends shockwaves through Leesdon and Hobfield. We also have to consider Ruth’s part in the story – the poor thing is having a tough time making Jake understand that her career matters too.
Once again, this is a fantastic addition to the series. Excellent storytelling and three mysteries to keep the reader guessing till the end. Recurrent characters have their share of side stories and their role in solving the case is what takes Ruth and Calladine face-to-face with the killer. Speaking of killer, their identity was totally unexpected. If you love gripping police procedurals, you might want to add Dead Bad by Helen H. Durrant to your TBR. I have read almost all the books and I highly recommend this series to mystery lovers.