Dead to Me – Cath Staincliffe

Before television……

there was the novel.  However in this case television came first, with the series Scott and Bailey. Cath Staincliffe has written a prequel to the popular ITV1 crime drama series. An interesting idea but Staincliffe was the creator and scriptwriter of ITV’s Blue Murder, is familiar with Manchester so is in a perfect position to write a book without simply regurgitating something from the television to appease fans.

It is not a prerequisite that you have had to watch the programme as this being a prequel it is the beginning of the story for the three main characters DC’s Janet Scott and Rachel Bailey and DCI Gill Murray. I have only seen one or two episodes so their characters as they are in the programme are not really fully formed in my mind.  Finding out their backgrounds and what has shaped them into the police roles they are in now and what they will be in the future and how well their dynamic will be in solving the case that brings them together is what makes this book an excellent read.

A girl has been stabbed, there is a possibility of rape, drugs play a part somewhere and the victim’s mother wants justice; she is convinced it is the boyfriend. She wants blame to be apportioned so that she feels after leaving her daughter in care to be looked after the system has not failed her.

DCI Gill Murray is heading up the investigate team and she has her faithful DC Janet Scott with her, but there is a new girl on the block Rachel Bailey; gun-ho, arrogant and a bit of a risk to a well established team. Murray teams her up with Scott in the hope that Scott’s calmness, experience and ease with events takes some of the arrogance away. Bailey thinks she is being mothered and wants to prove she is worthy of her place without the help of a colleague. It is this arrogance that makes Bailey a strong character within the book, and I felt as irritated by her as her colleagues did.

Bailey has something to prove not because she is a woman, but because her background and past would have brought her on the other side of the law if she had not taken the path she had. She needs to fix everything to heal the wounds of the past.

Scott on the other hand, knows that some wounds of the past cannot be healed permanently and it is the experience in dealing with them that makes them stronger in the future. She has empathy for a mother who has lost her daughter and knows that trying to juggle a life is not an easy job when you are in the police force.

Murray as the ‘boss’ got their on her own merit, and would have got further had her family unit not been turned upside down. Career paths had to change and the past perhaps can never be far away.

If you have never read a crime novel before then start with this one, ignore the fact that it is based on a television programme. It covers police procedural well, and explains for all us non police readers some of the language and shorthand used. You can understand the process and the outcomes if everything does not go right, have they really got the right person?

If you loved the programme and very rarely read then read this novel as it will get you into the joy of reading.

Thank you to the publisher for sending me this review copy. 

The book is published in paperback on 12 April 2012 and there will be more novels to follow. I will be writing more about my thoughts on this book nearer the publication date.