It's my great pleasure today to host a guest blog piece from Margaret Murphy, former CWA chair, founder of Murder Squad, top writer and all-round lovely person. She is pictured above in an American homicide department. To learn more about this and a trip via Tulsa (known to me previously solely as somewhere that Gene Pitney was only 24 hours away from...), just read on...Over to you, Margaret:
"I’ve known Martin Edwards for nearly twenty years. At first, he was the man with the astonishing knowledge of crime fiction. I imagined him living in a big old Victorian house crammed floor-to-ceiling with arcane texts, first editions and encyclopaedias – a cross between Hogwart’s library and oh, let’s say, The Bodleian. So I was delighted when this erudite fellow agreed to be one of the founding members of Murder Squad, a roving band of British crime writers. The Squad is still going strong fifteen years on, and I am now proud to number Martin among my friends. I am currently relishing his non-fiction text The Golden Age of Murder which draws on his enviable knowledge of the genre. He has revealed details of the Golden Age mystery writers’ lives which not only surprise, but which I for one would never have imagined. No wonder it’s yomping up the charts!
Here’s a modest revelation of my own: I am both Margaret Murphy and A.D. Garrett (cue gasps of surprise), and I’m here today to talk about the A.D. Garrett forensic thrillers. BELIEVE NO ONE, which has just been released in the USA, is the second in the series, and it brings the cop/forensic duo of Fennimore and Simms stateside in the hunt for a serial killer.
The story opens with an Oklahoma farmer dragging a cottonwood tree (and a body – obv) out of one of his ponds. Now, what Oklahomans call a ‘pond’, we Brits would call a sizeable lake, and this theme of familiarity and difference – two nations divided by a common language – sets the scene for the rest of the novel.
I travelled to America’s Midwest to research the novel with my husband (Murf), and forensic advisor (Dave Barclay) in 2012. Nothing brings home the vastness of the American landscape like being on the road, and we visited Homicide Detectives, CSIs, District Attorneys, judges, State Bureau agents and Medical Examiners from Tulsa, Oklahoma, clear to St Louis and the Missouri-Illinois state line, clocking up well over 1,000 miles. The fictional killer in BELIEVE NO ONE trawls Interstate-44 for victims, and it was a shock to discover that Oklahoma has its own real-life interstate killer. The I-40 killer committed a dozen murders before he was finally caught in 2009, and many other predators stalk the interstate highways. Truckers are top of the list of suspects: it’s hard to trace a killer who can abduct a victim in one state, murder her in the next, and dump her body in a third. One detective said, ‘I’d put every one of them on CODIS, I had my way.’ Of course, that went into the novel.
Fans of the genre know that a murder mystery should never be just about the murder. It has to be about people: the victims; those they leave behind – and those who seek justice for them. And again and again, it was the people we met in law enforcement who shaped the novel. In BELIEVE NO ONE, mothers and children are abducted, and the children remain missing. So it was a priority to meet consultants from ‘Team Adam’, a non-profit organisation dedicated to finding missing children. The two consultants we met were proud that Team Adam had reunited every child separated from their families by Hurricane Katrina, but one added sadly that some of those children clung to their foster parents and did not want to go home. That story haunted me, and is reflected in the questionable decision a deputy sheriff makes about a child’s future as the novel draws to a close.
I blogged the entire research trip, day-by-day on the A.D. Garrett website – a good place to start would be here – after which you can follow the links forward in time. I would love to welcome you – please do feel free to ask questions or leave comments!
You can buy BELIEVE NO ONE on AmazonUK in all formats, and on AmazonUS in hardback, with Kindle edition to follow soon!"