Dead Guilty is the ninth book in Helen H. Durrant‘s Calladine and Bayliss series.
DI Long has had a heart attack and the case he was investigating is transferred to Calladine and team. A three-year-old girl named Sophie Alder has been kidnapped from her home. Little Sophie’s mother and her friend were having a chat inside while Sophie and Jack (the friend’s nephew) were playing outside. When the adults called the kids in, only Jack turned in. Sophie was missing. Sophie’s father owns the famous biscuit factory in town. Sophie’s mother Annie and father Richard spent most of their childhood in Hobfield, the notorious housing estate in Leesdon. Did someone from their past kidnap the child?
Meanwhile, there have been a string of robberies in the area. The police aren’t doing much so the local men set up a vigilante team. One of the thieves breaks into Calladine’s home and is caught in the act. Days later, the vigilante team corners up the lad and the next day, he’s found dead.
A new drug dealer named ‘Street’ is in town and is creating quite a scene in the are. Unruly kids, robberies and vulnerable people getting knocked up – looks like Calladine and team have their hands full.
Another fantastic and mind-blowing addition to my favorite series. Calladine and Bayliss Police Procedural is one of the highest rated series on my blog – 7 of which have a straight 5 while the rest, 4.5.
Lots of new developments in this one, including something to do with Calladine’s life (a major turn in the series plot). We have three mysteries here – the kidnapping of a child, drug menace in Hobfield and murder. The spotlight is on the drug menace – things have taken a turn for worse. A person named Street is encouraging young kids and teenagers if Hobfield to create ruckus in town. Old and vulnerable people’s homes are broken into and turned into a drug den. A string of robberies create havoc in town. Then we have the curious case of a missing child – curious because the mother seems to be hiding something (something to do with the kidnapping of her own child.)
If this wasn’t enough, Calladine and team are asked to stall the drug case. Then comes a pause on the child’s kidnapping – someone from the higher management doesn’t want the team to solve the case. But why? DCI Rhona Birch goes stiff when Street’s name is mentioned. Is there a connection between the two?
Our Casanova Calladine gets a dose of reality check. Well, it has to do with his girlfriend Layla – or, should I say, ex-girlfriend? I have lost count of the number of women Calladine has dated so far. He even kissed Ruth once – it didn’t go well with Ruth because she and Jake are going strong. On the family front, Calladine has some news from his daughter Zoe and her partner Jo.
The mysteries kept me guessing till the end. The story is filled with suspense – after all, Calladine has three cases to solve, none of which seem to be proceeding anywhere (no clues, no case). There was a time when Calladine, Ruth, Julian, Rocco and Rhona’s personal problems shared spotlight along with the mystery. I suppose the series has now reached a stage where characters are established and their personal lives have taken a back stage when it comes to work.
The ending is mind-blowing. Lots of red herrings throughout and it is not easy for the reader to identify the killer until the end. Calladine is lead ashtray until he stumbles upon a vital clue – purely by coincidence.
If you love police procedurals, you might want to give this series a try. Excellent plot and writing, not one but two or three mysteries (in each book) to keep you guessing till the end, Calladine and Bayliss is a highly recommended series.