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Wednesday, 14 January 2015

Book Review: Dead To Me by Cath Staincliffe

A prequel novel to the television series Scott & Bailey, Dead To Me follows DC Rachel Bailey as she joins MIT and gets to grips with the case of a young woman found dead in her flat. Rachel clashes with her new team, especially DC Janet Scott who sees her as immature and impulsive but DCI Gill Murray believes she'll be a useful addition to the team. As the investigation wears on, spectres from both Rachel and Janet's pasts unsettle them but they gradually learn to work together.

With a book like this, there was the chance it would turn into a second-rate spin-off novel. However, written by someone with the talent and expertise of Staincliffe and deliberately filling in a gap in the series rather than recounting a tale we already know from the screen, I found it brilliant. Anyone familiar with the series will know that an integral aspect are the relationships between Rachel, Janet and Gill. Dead To Me sets all this up perfectly, showing the rocky start of what would become Rachel and Janet's friendship whilst staying completely true to the characters. It felt like I was watching it in my head and nothing really stuck out as 'wrong'. Even so, I believe even people unfamiliar with the television series would enjoy it - all the main characters are introduced and explored properly but generally - and this is important - in relations to the investigation.

I don't want to give too much of the crime plot away. All I'll say it that I had an inkling but I wasn't sure until the detectives were sure, just as it should be. Also, Staincliffe's immersion into the more prosaic elements of crime detection mimics the series, coming across as completely authentic without being too boring.

All in all, this was an excellent book. I felt like I'd spent time with three of my favourite television characters whilst still enjoying a twisting murder plot. Thoroughly recommended.

This book was read as part of the 'New Author' reading challenge, details here.

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