DI Kate Simms is on the fast track to nowhere. Five years ago she helped a colleague when she shouldn’t have. She’s been clawing her way back from a demotion ever since. Professor Nick Fennimore is a failed genetics student, successful gambler, betting agent, crime scene officer, chemistry graduate, toxicology specialist and one-time scientific advisor to the National Crime Faculty. He is the best there is, but ever since his wife and daughter disappeared he’s been hiding away in Scotland, working as a forensics lecturer. In Manchester, drug addicts are turning up dead and Simms’ superior is only too pleased to hand the problem to her. Then a celebrity dies and the media gets interested. Another overdose victim shows up, but this time the woman has been systematically beaten and all identifying features removed. The evidence doesn’t add up; Simms’ superiors seem to be obstructing her investigation; and the one person she can’t afford to associate with is the one man who can help: Fennimore.
It’s always a tricky proposition I imagine to undertake a crime, or indeed any kind of fiction novel with a dual writing partnership. In other books I have read with two authors there is usually a very noticeable distinction between their two styles causing me to favour one over the other, or the book falls down as one has obviously taken control over a certain facet of the story. Everyone Lies neatly bucked the trend for me and I was incredibly impressed by this debut collaboration between Margaret Murphy and Professor Dave Barclay, with this winning combination of established crime author and forensic scientist proving itself to be an altogether better combination than simply relying on meshing the talents of two authors.
Everyone Lies carefully combines the premise of a female police officer, DI Kate Simms, seeking to re-establish her formerly successful career derailed by one investigation, causing her to take a transfer to Manchester, and her complicated but necessary professional and personal relationship with forensics expert Professor Nick Fennimore. Add into the mix an intriguing investigation into a cluster of suspicious drug deaths, with all the attendant forensic detail and the narrow and small minded politics of the police department and this thriller more than proves its worth. The plot was well paced and compelling with enough surprises along the way to keep the reader hooked and all in all a well-judged depiction of the insidious nature of the drugs trade and its consequent victims. Breaking the story down into the fields of expertise of its authors, the forensic detail is perfectly layered into the story, providing points of interest to the reader, but not overwhelming them with unnecessary information, and for me the tormented Nick Fennimore, who labours under the grief of his wife and daughter disappearing some time previously, is the most interesting character of the piece. The mental conflicts this produces in him and the personal failings in his character, in addition to the insight and technical expertise his character brings to the book works exceptionally well throughout. It quickly becomes clear to the reader that there is some shared emotional baggage between himself and Kate which adds another dimension to his more fully formed character. I was not as engaged with Kate finding her a little bland, simply because she seemed an amalgamation of pretty much all of the female detectives I have read. Throughout the course of the book I could see aspects of her more famous counterparts in her character construction, but there is always room for development as I believe this book heralds the arrival of another series worth following in the future. Definitely worth a look if your tastes run to grittier British crime fiction, and a good Manchester based police procedural accurately portraying the more sordid and criminal aspects of inner city life.
A. D. Garrett is the pseudonym for the writing collaboration of prize-winning thriller writer Margaret Murphy and forensic scientist Professor Dave Barclay. Margaret Murphy is the author of nine psychological thrillers. She lectures on writing and is a former Royal Literary Fund Writing Fellow. She is founder of Murder Squad, a touring collective of crime writers, and was Chair of the Crime Writers’ Association in 2009-10. Professor Barclay holds two university posts and is a forensic adviser to the police forces and the media. He was Head of Physical Evidence at the UK National Crime and Operations Faculty for 10 years. He is currently working for several UK police forces and a state of Australia on high profile murders. He is part of the ‘Murder, Mystery and Microscopes’ team which aims to explain the real science behind popular crime fiction via a national series of public lectures. Everyone Lies is their first collaboration. http://www.margaretmurphy.co.uk/
(With thanks to Constable & Robinson for the ARC )