Print Length: 258 pages
Publisher:  Joffee Books (July 26, 2022)

From Goodreads.com: SOMETHING BAD’S GOING DOWN — AND NO ONE WILL TALK.

One of the Hobfield estate’s newest tenants is horrified when her cat returns home with a human foot in its mouth.

The foot belongs to 16-year-old Noah Crosby, whose decomposing remains are found in a rubbish-strewn alleyway. He was wearing an expensive gold watch, high-end trainers and had a top-of-the-range mobile phone on him when he died. The motive clearly isn’t robbery.

But how could a young lad from the wrong side of the tracks afford such expensive gear?

The post-mortem reveals that the letter X has been carved into Noah’s skin. The signature of a killer known as the Shadow, who plagued the estate more than twenty years before. A killer who was never caught.

Could the Shadow be back at large?

Detective Tom Calladine and his partner DS Ruth Bayliss are finding it difficult to make headway. People are scared. No one will talk.

At the same time, Tom’s new girlfriend’s shop is targeted — and it’s clear she’s not telling him the whole truth about the attack. Just what is Kitty hiding? And when an old flame returns to Leesdon, Tom senses trouble ahead . . .

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My Rating: 3 stars out of 5

I'm really on the fence with how I feel about this one. On one hand, I thought the story was well executed, and I enjoyed seeing how all of the different threads were tied together in the end. I also enjoyed seeing Tom and Ruth back in action as I always enjoy their dynamic together. Having Tom's ex Amy thrown back into the mix was an unexpected surprise, as was the sub-plot involving him and his current paramour Kitty. 

However, I felt something was definitely off with Tom in this installment. Instead of his usual cynical self, constantly questioning everyone and everything, he readily accepted things at face value (especially things said to him whilst interviewing potential suspects). I'm not sure why the author choose to suddenly have him act this way, whether she is planning to wrap up the Calladine & Bayliss series to focus on her series involving Alice, or perhaps Tom is going to retire and become something of a consultant while Ruth steps up to fill his shoes? Whatever the reason, it didn't seem like I was reading Tom Calladine at all, so that was very disappointing. 

Of course, if there are more novels put out in this series, I will read them (although, at this point, Amazon is showing this as being book 12 of 12), and I do recommend it to those who enjoy well-written police procedural novels. I look forward to seeing what this author comes up with next. 

DISCLAIMER: I received a complimentary copy of this novel from the publisher. This has not affected my review in any way. All thoughts and opinions expressed in this review are 100% my own.
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                                                  Dead Real is available on Amazon.com
                                             (for free if you subscribe to kindle unlimited)