The Dead Don’t Speak – Claire Askew | Book Review | #TheDeadDontSpeak | Crime Fiction | @OneNightStanzas @HodderBooks @AlainnaGeorgiou

The brilliant new novel from award-winning writer and rising star Claire Askew.

A city that’s no longer safe…

An anonymous vigilante stalks the streets of Edinburgh. As his behaviour escalates, the police are at a loss – they can find no clues to his identity, and no trace of his whereabouts.

A detective in the path of danger…

DI Helen Birch has been told to stay away from the case – but she’s never been one to play by the rules. When her colleague Amy comes to her asking for help, DI Birch finds it impossible to resist the challenge – and soon, her life is on the line.

Will she crack the case before it breaks her? Or has she finally met her match?

A gripping crime thriller for fans of Susie Steiner, Elly Griffiths and Val McDermid – guaranteed to keep you up all night…

The Dead Don’t Speak (DI Helen Birch #5)
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
Format: Ebook, Audio and Hardback (8 June 2023)


The Dead Don’t Speak is number 5 in the DI Helen Birch series, set in Edinburgh. I’m new to these books so have jumped right in partway through, however I feel this can be read as a standalone as enough background detail is given for a new reader. My thanks to Alainna of Hodder & Stoughton for the Netgalley copy to review and for the tour invite.

Helen Birch is rather a mess, both physically and mentally. Having previously been seriously injured she is on leave but the immobility, pain and boredom of not being allowed to do anything is driving her mad. Not being one to easily accept help, she is pushing some of those closest to her away and feeling even more isolated.

Her colleague Amy Kato has been promoted and is in charge of what initially seems a standard hit and run to solve. However all is not what it seems and when actions escalate, the team are on the backfoot.

The ‘team’ should not include Helen as she has orders not to involve herself in work and to rest and recover. However, she ignores this and her own investigations leads to danger and the possible end to her career.

This is my first outing with Helen Birch so I’m only able to comment on this book and not in comparison with the series. Parts of the book have a slower pace and at times it was an introspective character driven story but I suspect this is probably due to Helen’s own circumstances and her immobility. Having said that, there was plenty of tension and intrigue with the perpetrator’s own voice, ‘the Vampire’, included in the narrative. This wasn’t a clear cut case of the bad guy being hunted and deserving to be caught – there was somewhat of a moral dilemma involved too.

Despite her grumbling and prickly nature, I liked Helen. It’s clear she is a strong willed character but brave too and I loved the developing relationship she had with her previously distant father. Her frustration at her physical limitations came over so clearly, as did the mental torment she put herself through when thinking about the previous case that ended so badly.

Suspenseful, gritty and absorbing with dramatic twists and surprises, The Dead Don’t Speak was a very enjoyable read and a series that I shall be following in future.

Claire Askew’s debut novel All The Hidden Truths won the 2016 Lucy Cavendish Fiction Prize as a work in progress, and the 2019 McIlvanney Debut Crime Fiction Award. Two of her novels have been shortlisted for the CWA Gold Dagger. Her fourth novel, A Matter of Time, was longlisted for the McIlvanney Crime Novel of the Year 2022. Claire is also a poet and non-fiction writer and she lives in Carlisle.

Follow the author

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram | Amazon UK


I do love to read any comments 😊

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.