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In Memory of Helen Cadbury – by Marnie Riches

The world of crime fiction mourns one of its brightest and best this month. Those in the crime-writing community who were lucky enough to call Helen Cadbury a friend knew that she had secondary cancer. But we didn’t expect her to depart this world quite so quickly. When her family announced her death at the end of June, it was rather like a friend had left the pub abruptly – their seat, still warm and their drink, half drunk.

Helen and I first met at CrimeFest in 2015 where, as a pair of gobby Northerners, we bonded over our fascination with bodily fluids and peculiar ailments. At Harrogate, we drank bubbly with my publisher to celebrate my Dead Good Reader Award win. Sitting together at the CWA Northern Chapter lunch, Helen and I gossiped and laughed and pigged out on cheese. We planned trips to Northern libraries and appearances at panel events, such as the one in Iceland Noir that she took part in last year. For all her travails in getting well from breast cancer – and she did have a chunk of time in the last year where she felt well and looked as beautiful as ever – never once did she lose her enthusiasm for life. Helen was as brilliant at living as she was at writing.

About that writing…

Helen’s critically acclaimed Sean Denton series was loved by readers and her peers alike, and we’re incredibly lucky that she got to finish the undoubtedly wonderful third instalment, Race to the Kill, which is out September 2017. Angela Clarke says of her books, Bones in the Nest and To Catch a Rabbit that she, “revealed her own empathy and depth of kindness in the authentic, often heart-rending tales of marginalised people”. The series is, of course, gripping as hell. Our multi-talented Helen was also a skilled poet, described as, “brilliant” by Sarah Hilary. Jane Casey remarks that, “she always had the right words for every occasion” – both on the page and in person, as it transpires.

When I moved into a bug-infested, neglected 60s bungalow last year, Helen cheered me up by sending me a book about the architectural value of British bungalows – a tongue-in-cheek gesture of solidarity. When she became ill, her first thought was for her family, whom she adored. Online, no matter how rough the ride through her treatment was, she always had sympathetic words or a side-splitting observation for those who needed a pick-me-up. Valued for being so much more than a writer, Helen Cadbury was a thoughtful soul and a great friend to many. She had a filthy sense of humour; She was deeply spiritual; She was a shooting star that glittered incandescently in the crime-fiction firmament. Her words will live on on our kindles and bookshelves. Her beauty of spirit will live on in our memories.

Goodnight sweet lady. Good night, good night. You may be gone, but you’ll never be forgotten.