Dead Real is the 12th book in Helen Durrant’s Calladine and Bayliss series.
It has been a year since book 11 of this series was released and I was eagerly waiting for the next installment. Last book ended with Tom Calladine and Ruth Bayliss managing to catch the killer but Calladine collapsing. His health was a bit bad and he ignored it until he just dropped… thankfully, not dead!
Dead Real begins with Noah Crosby, a sixteen-year-old boy meeting his untimely death. Before he was brutally murdered, his killer asked him who he was working for. The killer named two people – Spooner and Barton. Noah refused to reveal anything about his boss and he was killed… the killer didn’t want to any chances.
One of Hobfield estate’s newest tenant finds the dumpyard a bit too smelly. It’s just an alley between the two building which has been converted to an impromptu dumping grounds. But when her cat brings home a human foot (a gift for its mistress), things start looking a bit grim. The police are called in and decomposed body of Noah is found in the dump.
Expensive watch, trainers and top-of-the-range mobile phone are found on him. How could a young lad like Noah with no proper education or job afford such expensive items? On post mortem, it is revealed that an X was carved on Noah’s body. It’s the signature of Shadow, a notorious serial killer who terrorized the Hobfield estate two decades ago.
As Calladine and Ruth start to investigate, they realize people are scared to talk. The two gangsters who want their claim on Hobfield estate – for drugs and other nefarious activities – aren’t ready to talk to the coppers. But one of them is attacked soon after and there’s a mark on his arm – an X.
Expensive goods such as jewelry, watches, handbags and trainers are being distributed in Hobfield for dirt-cheap price. Some of these goods aren’t in the market yet. Was Noah killed because he dealt with the wrong person? How does the serial killer fit in?
If this wasn’t enough for a recovering Calladine, his girlfriend Kitty’s (a private investigator) office is attacked. She tells Calladine someone threw a rock through the window. But when he questions a neighboring owner, she says it was a man with a rifle. Kitty does not want to talk to Calladine about it.
I binge read the previous books of this series last year and I was eagerly waiting to see how things proceed in book #12. The recurring characters have come a long way since book #1. DS Ruth Bayliss is now married to her partner/school teacher Jake. Casanova Calladine *wink wink* met Kitty, a private investigator, while solving a case. They are now a couple. Kitty spends most of her nights at Calladine’s. *whoot*
I read this book in one sitting, it was that engrossing. I suppose I have read all the books of this series in one sitting. So engrossing and interesting that one will be hooked on to the story till the end.
The mystery behind the murder(s) kept me guessing till the end. The list of suspects is long, given that most of them are from the notorious housing estate. There’s also someone from Calladine’s past. Calladine was responsible for the imprisonment of a certain criminal. His wife had pretty ‘nice’ words to say after the conviction. Their current business becomes a center of suspicion as one of the suspects worked there.
Speaking of Calladine’s past, I have already called him a Casanova – and one can expect a blast from the past. He’s with Kitty but he cannot get over… um, the old flame. What happens when the ex meets the current? Mee-owww!
As the perp was caught red-handed, I realized something. Most of the mystery was about the stolen goods and murder – nothing about the serial killer. Something didn’t add up. Turns out, Calladine too had the same doubt in mind. Maybe I should take the sergeant’s exam or something and join Calladine’s team. Helen, is there a vacancy in the team?
I highly recommend this series. Absolutely marvelous storytelling. Excellent character development. Full of suspense. A mystery that keeps one guessing till the end. Not one but two criminal cases in each book. What else does a mystery lover want?
If you are looking for a gripping police procedural, you might want to give Dead Real by Helen H. Durrant a read.