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When the Dead Come Calling (Burrowhead Mysteries 1) by Helen Sedgwick

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Buy When the Dead Come Calling (Burrowhead Mysteries 1) by Helen Sedgwick at Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com

Category: Crime
Rating: 5/5
Reviewer: Sue Magee
Reviewed by Sue Magee
Summary: #
Buy? Borrow?
Pages: 350 Date: January 2020
Publisher: Point Blank
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-1786075697

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It began with the discovery of a body under the swings in the children's playground. It was Dr Alexis Crosse and he was found by PC Simon Hunter, who loved him deeply, but who had reason to mistrust him. Crosse was a psychotherapist who grew up in Greece, but such professions are misunderstood in Burrowhead (along with foreigners), a community which regards anyone not born and brought up there as an outsider. DI Georgie Strachan is an outsider - you've only got to look at her skin to realise that, and her husband, Fergus, well, he's a little strange too, not entirely here.

DC Trish Mackie is very much an insider: she's caring for her Uncle Walt, who has taken to wandering. It could be his age, or it could be that he has something to worry about. Trish is resentful of the fact that DS Frazer has been brought in to help with the murder investigation. He's very much an outsider too; black - and a city boy to boot. He finds Burrowhead unsettling, with its ruined church that sits simultaneously on the outskirts and deep within the heart of the village of Burrowhead.

There's hate here, and it's so ingrained that you suspect that people don't realise what a toxic atmosphere they live in. Pamali, the local shopkeeper (and also an outsider) says that her mother thought the boundaries of the world were thin here. The boundaries between the Earth and the skies. The living and the dead. It's exacerbated by racial hatred and the feeling that 'they're taking our jobs'. But are there any jobs to take?

Helen Sedgwick creates a chilling sense of evil, of impending disaster with some exquisite writing. Even without the bodies (yes - there's more than one) you'd feel a deep sense of unease, of Burrowhead being somewhere that you'd rather not be. It is almost, but not quite, surreal. The characters are excellent; you sympathise with Georgie. It can't be easy being the breadwinner when Fergus, who has had good jobs in the past, doesn't seem inclined to look for one now. He's more interested in the archaeological society he's trying to start, concentrating on that when there are more pressing matters.

There's a sense of unreality about the police station too. It's the smallest in the area and possibly in the country with a constant feeling that the next round of cuts will see the end of it, but for the time being murder is keeping the station alive.

I read the book more quickly than I intended, needing to know what happened and the answers were deeply satisfying. Sedgwick trusts her readers to understand and dispenses with tedious explaining: it's truly an exceptional book and I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to the Bookbag.

For a book of a similar standard (although I think the writing here is better) we can recommend The Lying Room by Nicci French.

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Buy When the Dead Come Calling (Burrowhead Mysteries 1) by Helen Sedgwick at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy When the Dead Come Calling (Burrowhead Mysteries 1) by Helen Sedgwick at Amazon.co.uk Amazon currently charges £2.99 for standard delivery for orders under £20, over which delivery is free.
Buy When the Dead Come Calling (Burrowhead Mysteries 1) by Helen Sedgwick at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy When the Dead Come Calling (Burrowhead Mysteries 1) by Helen Sedgwick at Amazon.com.

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