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Tuesday 23 April 2013

‘Everyone Lies’ by A D Garrett

Published by C&R Crime,
20th June 2013.
ISBN: 978-1-78033-979-5

The damaged cop with demons to battle and a difficult personal life is a recurring theme in crime fiction, and one which finds its way into this first outing for A D Garrett. 

Kate Simms is a newly promoted DCI with a past which sidelined her for several years and has left her with a lot to prove to her senior officers now she’s back in the mainstream. Nick Fennimore is a consulting forensic pathologist who carries ghosts from his own past around with him. And he and Simms have history.

Kate is tasked to draw a line under a series of drug-related deaths regarded as small-time by the police hierarchy; with Nick’s clandestine help she finds a linking factor. Then evidence starts to fall into her lap a little too easily, and she begins to wonder if there’s more going on than meets the eye.
There is, of course, and A D Garrett weaves a cast of intriguing bad guys, a raft of forensic detail and a background of police politics into a gripping rollercoaster of a tale which ranks among the best police procedurals I’ve read in years.

Then again, from a crime writer with nine highly regarded novels under her belt, or a high-profile professor of forensics who has worked on cases such as Madeleine McCann’s disappearance, Millie Dowler’s murder and the Soham killings, you’d expect no less. A D Garrett is both of these; the name is a pseudonym for the writing partnership of Margaret Murphy and Professor Dave Barclay.

Structurally the plot is well-nigh perfect. A couple of times I thought I’d caught them attempting something which doesn’t work in fiction, only to find, a chapter or two later, that I’d been sold a skilful dummy. At one point, a few dozen pages from the end, I laid the book down thinking, there, they’ve hit rock bottom, now the only way is up – and next time I picked it up the story swooped down into an even deeper pit.

There’s a lot of forensic detail, rightly so, since the narrative relies heavily on it, and once in a while it gets pretty technical. But just when Fennimore gets a little too carried away by science-speak and the lay mind threatens to glaze over, Simms cuts to the chase and it’s all summed up in a few concise and totally comprehensible words.

Simms and Fennimore don’t work in isolation, of course; a whole cast of other characters, major and minor, move through the action, almost none of them wholly good or bad whichever side they’re on – and every single one evinces that sense that they go on living when they walk off the page. The locations, too, from police HQ to squalid crime scenes via massage parlour, hotel room and Simms’s home, have the ring of truth; and Greater Manchester in the sleet really is as dismal and comfortless as it’s portrayed; been there, done that!

If this book isn’t meant as the first of a series, both publisher and author should consider it seriously. When I finished it I wanted more. The story is wrapped up, the bad are caught and the good rewarded, but tantalizing loose threads are left dangling, questions left unanswered about both major and minor characters, laying down oodles of potential for the future.
Let’s hope Murphy and Barclay stay friends.
Reviewer: Lynne Patrick
A D Garrett is the pseudonym for Margaret Murphy and Professor Dave Barclay’s writing collaboration.

 Margaret Murphy has written nine psychological thrillers – both stand-alone and police series. Her work has been published in the UK and the USA, and in translation across Europe, receiving accolades from broadsheets and tabloid newspapers alike, as well as starred reviews from Publishers’ Weekly and Booklist in the USA.  Her novels have been shortlisted for the First Blood critics’ award for crime fiction, and the Crime Writers’ Association (CWA) Dagger in the Library; she was the joint winner of the 2012 CWA Short Story Dagger. Margaret is founder of Murder Squad, a touring group of crime writers, and in 2009-10 she was Chair of the CWA. She was RLF Writing Fellow in Liverpool and Chester from 2008-2011, and has tutored creative writing at Masters level, as well as presenting talks and workshops in creative writing for library groups and literature festivals. She has been a countryside ranger, science teacher and dyslexia specialist, and her lifelong passion for science is reflected in her painstaking research for her novels. Everyone Lies is her first collaborative work with forensic scientist Prof. Dave Barclay, under the pseudonym A.D. Garrett.
Professor Dave Barclay is a world renowned forensics expert and Senior Lecturer in Forensic Science at Robert Gordon University, Aberdeen. Professor Barclay has worked on some of Britain's highest profile murder cases. He is also a former head of physical evidence for the UK National Crime and Operations Faculty, where he was involved in reviewing more than 200 murder investigations, cold case reviews and inquiries into alleged miscarriages of justice, including the Bloody Sunday inquiry, the Omagh bombing, the World's End murders in Edinburgh, and the Milly Dowler and Soham murders. His extensive experience also led him into becoming an adviser for the BBC television series 'Waking the Dead' and more recently, the Channel Four documentary, Dispatches, invited Prof Barclay to Praia da Luz, Portugal to review the Portuguese police investigation into the disappearance of Madeleine McCann.

Lynne Patrick has been a writer ever since she could pick up a pen, and has enjoyed success with short stories, reviews and feature journalism, but never, alas, with a novel. She crossed to the dark side to become a publisher for a few years, and is proud to have launched several careers which are now burgeoning.
She lives on the edge of rural Derbyshire in a house groaning with books, about half of them crime fiction.

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