I am so honoured to be taking part in this blog tour, not just to focus on the book but to remember Helen as well.
It is the middle of a long night shift for PC Sean Denton and his partner PC Gavin Wentworth when they are approached by a dishevelled-looking woman desperate that they follow her. She leads them to the old Chasebridge High School where they find the dead body of a Syrian refugee. The investigation which points to the neighbouring greyhound stadium, finds Denton caught up in the world of immigration, drugs and sexual abuse, and one in which his private life becomes increasingly entwined.
I’ve said this before but I’ll say it again – I love Sean Denton. I say this more in a motherly rather than romantic way. He’s the kind of lad, that if I knew him, I’d be so proud. And clearly, Helen Cadbury felt the same. From the first book, To Catch A Rabbit, where Sean is a humble PCSO, this is a young man destined for more. Overcoming dyslexia, we find Sean as a PC in the second book, Bones In The Nest (see my review here). He has a knack for picking up on things that others don’t notice, something which doesn’t go unseen by a senior CID officer. And here, in Race To The Kill, Sean becomes a Detective Constable.
Even though he was the first response officer at the old Chasebridge school, Sean’s new boss, DI Khan, allows him to continue on the investigation of the murder of a Syrian refugee. There’s a strong sense of social justice in all three books. Not surprising really. Helen Cadbury was passionate about these things. But it’s never done in a ‘beat you over the head’ style. It’s always an integral part of the story – a thread that sews together the patchwork squares of the plot.
And this is something that I admire so much in Helen’s writing. She would take what seemed to be two or more disparate stories and slowly link them together. As the readers, we often get to find out the link before Sean does. And then, in true Columbo style, we get to watch as the truth dawns on him.
I don’t want to tell you too much about the story but we don’t just see Sean as an officer. His personal life is explored more fully in this book as well. I don’t think I’m giving away too much by saying that there is some sadness in the story near the end. But, Helen hasn’t left Sean in a desperate place. This is a book that ends with so much hope and possibility.
It was bittersweet to read this novel, knowing it was the last in the series. I loved it so much but I can’t tell Helen. I only met Helen once, very briefly. But we emailed a few times when I was writing a review for Bones In The Nest and she was incredibly generous to her readers. She will be sorely missed.
Thank you to Allison & Busby for the book and Anne Cater for allowing me to be part of the tour. A massive thank you to Helen’s family for allowing the publication to go ahead still. A collection of poetry is due for release in November.
You can find out more about Helen Cadbury and buy her books here.
Helen Cadbury wrote fiction, poetry and plays. She worked as an actor before becoming a teacher and spent five years teaching in prisons. She grew up in Birmingham and Oldham, lived in London for many years, then went north and settled in York with her family. Her debut novel, To Catch A Rabbit, was the winner of the inaugural Northern Crime Competition. Helen passed away in 2017.