When The Dead Come Calling is the third novel from Helen Sedgwick who is also the author of The Comet Seekers and The Growing Season. When The Dead Come Calling is the first book of a new crime series, The Burrowhead Mysteries, set in a small coastal village in the north of England. Despite its small size, Burrowhead does have its own police station led by DI Georgie Strachan. The village is shocked by the brutal murder of psychotherapist Dr Alexis Cosse, partner of one of the other police officers at the station, and as Georgie begins to investigate his murder, long hidden secrets come to light.
When The Dead Come Calling is not a fast paced, action packed crime novel. Rather, the story unwinds slowly but in a way which captures the attention. Helen Sedgwick has captured perfectly the brooding atmosphere of the run down village, with the wild sea and dark skies echoing the darkness of the crimes. On the face of it, Burrowhead seems to be a sleepy town, a quiet backwater, but there are hidden depths and secrets to be uncovered, so many secrets going back over the years. As the investigation continues, Georgie discovers deep-seated racism, homophobia, historic abuse and villagers protecting their own.
For me, it was the characters who made the story. Georgie was quite fascinating and made me wonder why she felt so drawn to Burrowhead but also why she has clearly been a restless spirit with a need to move on every now and then. Her husband Fergus doesn’t seem to be the kind of person Georgie would be with and I’d love to know more about their back story as a couple. Then there’s young Alan, living with a violent father, given a chance to do work experience at the police station. Alan was a character I really felt for. So much potential but little opportunity to improve himself. Local shopkeeper Pamali was another excellent character, the focus of some of the racist behaviour in the small town and her calm demeanour really drew me to her. And then there’s the mysterious first person narrator in a cave by the shore. Who was that? What were they actually seeing? And what was their significance to the story. All these characters really combined into a fascinating cast for the book.
When The Dead Come Calling is a beautifully written, intelligent crime novel which certainly kept me guessing. I’ll look forward to a return visit to Burrowhead to see what happens next to these compelling characters in this intriguing location.
My thanks to Margot Weale at publishers Point Blank, an imprint of Oneworld Publications, for sending me a copy of the book for review. It is available now in hardback and as an ebook. It should be available to buy or order from your usual book retailer or you will find buying options on the PointBlank website here: When the Dead Come Calling
From the back of the book
In the first of the Burrowhead Mysteries, an atmospheric murder investigation unearths the brutal history of a village where no one is innocent.
When psychotherapist Alexis Cosse is found murdered in the playground of the sleepy northern village of Burrowhead, DI Strachan and her team of local police investigate, exposing a maelstrom of racism, misogyny and homophobia simmering beneath the surface of the village.
Shaken by the revelations and beginning to doubt her relationship with her husband, DI Strachan discovers something lurking in the history of Burrowhead, while someone (or something) equally threatening is hiding in the strange and haunted cave beneath the cliffs…
About the author
Helen Sedgwick is the author of The Comet Seekers (Harvill Secker, 2016) and The Growing Season (2017). She has an MLitt in Creative Writing from Glasgow University, she won a Scottish Book Trust New Writers Award in 2012, and her writing has been broadcast on BBC Radio 4 and widely published in magazines and anthologies. Before writing her debut novel she was a research physicist, with a PhD in Physics from Edinburgh University.