Leigh Russell is an English teacher by trade and it would give me great pleasure to be able to point out mistakes such as non-conjugated verbs (whatever they are) and incomplete sentences, however my personal battle with English teachers ended twenty something years ago when I left school, and it would be churlish and unfair of me to exact revenge on somebody who is only guilty by association.
What I can do though is give a fair and unbiased appraisal of an English teachers work. In short I found Dead End to be a macabre read, full of enthralling characters and gruesome details which kept me glued from first page to last.
The characterisation involved in all of the central roles including Geraldine Steel, Ian Paterson, young Lucy & Ben, Matthew Kirby and his mistress Charlotte was first class (no pun intended) and showed a great understanding of human traits and a keen eye for detail as well as a finger on the pulse of youth culture and trending. Steel is an endearing character full of self doubts, who is on something of a personal crusade as well as battling to solve the case. This crusade carries over from the previous book and I'm sure will re-appear in future tomes to give an added depth to the lead character.
The plot see-saws back and forth with an obvious suspect who seemed just too obvious to me, yet there was no evidence to back up the suspicions I had. For once I'm not going to tell you if I guessed the killer correctly, I'm going to let you draw your own conclusions on that one. A neat sub-plot further muddied the waters and when the final reveal is brought to light all the loose ends are neatly tied up.
The prose is a delight as you would expect from such a learned source and the passages of dialogue are exactly what you would expect to hear from the respective characters. The subject of bullying came up and was dealt with by showing understanding, compassion and sensitivity from the school staff, whereas in my day half the teachers were bullies themselves.
I'd happily sign up for detention, if it was reading one of Mrs Russell's books.