A murder investigation unearths the brutal history of a village where long buried secrets threaten a small community
When psychotherapist Alexis Cosse is found murdered in the playground of the sleepy northern village of Burrowhead, the local police force set out to investigate. It’s not long before they uncover a maelstrom of racism, misogyny and homophobia.
But there’s worse to come. Shaken by the revelations and beginning to doubt her relationship with her husband Fergus, DI Georgie Strachan soon realizes that something very bad is lurking just below the surface. Meanwhile someone – or something – is hiding in the strange, haunted cave beneath the cliffs.
My first blog tour of the new year and I am delighted to be reviewing When The Dead Come Calling by Helen Sedgwick. My thanks to Anne Cater of Random Things Tours for inviting me to take part and to the publisher for my digital copy of the book, which I have reviewed honestly and impartially.
This was a crime book with a difference, quite unlike anything I’ve read before. I have to say, for quite a large chunk of the book I wasn’t’t really sure what was going on. We meet a first person narrator who is hiding out in a sea cave, but it is unclear who this person is or whether the things they are seeing are real until almost the end of the book. There are a series of crimes which no one quite knows whether they are connected or not, or what the motivations are behind them for a long time. It struck me that this is quite likely the closest feeling to how real investigations unravel, but it was an unusual construct for a novel and I was feeling my way through it quite confusedly for much of the time. I suspect this may put some, particularly impatient, readers off, but it is worth sticking with it.
The main reason I suggest you want to stick with this book is the pure beauty of the writing. The author has a masterful voice, the writing is lyrical and descriptive, truly invoking the starkness, remoteness and hostility of the book’s isolated location and imbuing it with the despair and menace that is the bedrock of the story. I could feel the sea spray, smell the seaweed, feel the decay, it was all immersive. On top of this, the book has an eerie, dream-like, ethereal quality which, again, mirrors and enhances the storyline. The line between reality and imagination are blurred and unclear throughout, questions are left hanging, not everything is explained. This is really a very unusual and exciting twist on a crime novel and it has made me very keen to see what will come next in the series.
This book will not appeal to everyone because it is so different. The pacing is not quite as frantic as some may expect from crime books, and it is a curious mix of the straight-forward and the mystic. However, the issues addressed are current, relevant and compelling, the characters diverse, well-rounded and interesting and the crime suitably violent, complex and baffling. I think it is a book that will reward a repeat read to draw out all of the subtleties and nuances of the story and that rewards readers who are curious and adventurous. I recommend it for those who enjoy beautiful writing, clever plotting and something a little out of the mainstream.
When The Dead Come Calling is out tomorrow and you can buy a copy here.
Please do check out the rest of the blogs taking part in the tour, you can follow via the poster below:
About the Author
Helen Sedgwick is the author of The Comet Seekers, selected as a best book of 2016 by the Herald, and The Growing Season, shortlisted for the Saltire Society Fiction Book of the Year in 2018. She has an MLitt in Creative Writing from Glasgow University and won a Scottish Book Trust New Writers Award.
Before she became an author, she was a research physicist with a PhD in Physics from Edinburgh University. She now lives and writes in the Scottish Highlands.
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