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Tain novelist Helen Sedgwick will launch first crime book with free event at Waterstones Inverness on Thursday


By Margaret Chrystall


WRITER Helen Sedgwick says that her new crime novel When The Dead Come Calling is the darkest thing she has ever written.

“And it was the most fun I’ve ever had writing a book,” laughed the Tain-based writer with a sense of relish.

It is set in the north of England, opening in the village of Burrowhead as a murder ignites a strange dual mystery that must be solved by Detective Inspector Georgie Strachan and her small team.

When psychotherapist Alexis Cosse is found murdered in Burrowhead’s playground, the mixed race policewoman also uncovers racism, misogyny and homophobia as she copes with new doubts about her relationship with her husband.

Helen Sedgwick sets her debut crime novel in a coastal village. Picture: Michael Gallacher
Helen Sedgwick sets her debut crime novel in a coastal village. Picture: Michael Gallacher

But as if that is not enough, someone – or possibly something – is hiding in the haunted cave beneath the cliffs.

Though the story has its own quirks, such as the supernatural elements, the book sits squarely in the crime novel category.

That is a first for Helen, though one of two unpublished novels she wrote before ‘fed into’ the ideas for When The Dead Come Calling.

She has hugely enjoyed writing the plot of the crimes that emerge in Burrowhead.

Helen said: “I found it a real driving force because the first murder happens right at the start of the book and there is also someone – we don’t know who they are at the beginning – hiding in the cave. So you have these two mysteries that propel it forwards. And when I started writing, I didn’t know who had done the murder, so I almost set myself the mystery and was solving it as I went along.”

Helen Sedgwick's new book.
Helen Sedgwick's new book.

The writer will definitely be returning to crime fiction as Helen already has plans for two more books featuring detective Georgie.

Unlike many fictional detectives, Georgie is not someone with massive personal problems or unusual flaws or obsessions.

“I was at a crime panel event at Wigtown Book Festival two or three years ago with several crime writers and they were talking about who you choose your detective to be,” Helen said. “They all said you needed a detective who was broken or angry or dark – and I was thinking ‘I would like to write a detective who is a really decent person who thinks the best of the world and wants a quiet life!’. That is how I approached Georgie to begin with. Gradually, as the book goes on, that gets worn away. But I started wanting to write a good detective in a broken world.”

The supernatural surfaces in Helen's book When The Dead Come Calling. Picture: Michael Gallacher
The supernatural surfaces in Helen's book When The Dead Come Calling. Picture: Michael Gallacher

Helen’s debut novel The Comet Seekers was selected as a ‘best book of 2016’ by The Herald, and The Growing Season was shortlisted for the Saltire Society fiction book of the year in 2018.

Before she became an author, Helen was a research physicist and her next project is inspired by the theory of ‘quantum entanglement’ and will be set in space across four different planets.

Helen Sedgwick will be joined by three other writers on a panel for the launch event at Waterstones Inverness on Thursday.
Helen Sedgwick will be joined by three other writers on a panel for the launch event at Waterstones Inverness on Thursday.

“It will make a nice change from the crime book which is quite down to earth and has quite a lot of realism in there balanced with the supernatural things – and is quite gritty. Though I never set out to write a Brexit novel, it’s about society crumbling and everyone is so divided.

“So it will be nice for the next thing to be set in outer space!”

Helen launches her new book on Thursday, January 9 at a free event from 6.30pm at Waterstones Inverness. Helen will be joined by three prominent Highland writers. Helen will be joined by three prominent Highland writers – crime writer Margaret Kirk, historical crime writer SG MacLean and specialist children's and YA writer and Barbara Henderson. Also on February 11, Helen will talk at the Portmahomack Ladies Club and on April 21 the writer will be dropping in at HighlandLIT – the group that champions new writing – at the Glen Mhor Hotel, Inverness. More on Helen: www.helensedgwick.com



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