Tour: Character Interview (An Unfamiliar Murder by Jane Isaac)

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I'm interviewing DCI Helen Lavery from Jane Isaac's book An Unfamiliar Murder. After some back & forth, I finally got Helen on the phone. Time difference between the UK & the USA can be a bummer.

How are you today Helen?

Very busy and a little weary today, I’m afraid. I was called out to a suspicious death at 2am this morning and am leading that investigation currently. Later this morning, I’m due in Court to give evidence on a murder trial. And I’ve also been invited to attend an awards ceremony at my son’s school this evening. With my mother laid up with flu, I simply cannot let my son down and miss that one!

Okay, so to start, I have to say I was a little shocked on how quickly Anna was arrested and accused of murder. Do the investigations usually go this way?

Anna was found in the presence of stabbed murder victim with a knife in her hand. In these situations, the police have an obligation to protect the public by questioning a potential suspect and detaining them in custody while making the necessary investigations.

Nobody is charged in the UK unless police can present, to the satisfaction of the Crown Prosecution Service, sufficient evidence linking them to a crime, but they can be detained in custody for up to 96 hours with the authority of the Courts whilst we carry out our enquiries.

Now that the case has been solved, is there a sense of normalcy back in the dept?

Police work is always out of the bounds of normality! That’s one of the things that makes it so interesting. When we are not investigating live cases we are engaged on cold case review. A murder file remains open until solved and we are constantly working behind the scenes trying to look for fresh evidence that could lead us to a potential suspect.

Also, as a Senior Investigating Officer on the Major Incident Squad, I cover many incidents alongside homicide including major arson, kidnapping, importation of illicit firearms by organised criminals, and stranger rape. Recently, I led a team investigating an allegation of large scale people trafficking.

How are you getting along with Inspector Townsend these days?

Acting Inspector Townsend was only drafted in to assist me with the incident team on Operation Marlon. He is currently working as a custody sergeant, so we don’t work directly together at the moment.

Doubtless our paths will cross again - such is the nature of police work in a relatively small force.

How's the home life with your mom and the boys?

All is well, thank you. Matthew, my oldest, takes his GCSEs next year and Robert is now a teenager and embracing the age wholeheartedly. Makes for an interesting home life. Luckily, my Mother raised me so is quite laid back and comfortable in this environment.

At the moment they are trying to persuade me to add to our little family by adopting a dog from the nearby kennels. The jury is out on that one. With the hours I work, the poor thing is likely to get walked at 4 am in the morning in pitch darkness!

And finally, can we expect to read more about yourself and your detectives?

You’d have to check with Jane Isaac on that one. Certainly, the kind of unusual and serious crime that my unit deals with, forms the basis for some very interesting stories.

I am to Jane Isaac to what Holmes was to Watson, the source of great literary inspiration.

Thank you for your time Helen.

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Book Blurb:

What secrets lurk beneath a normal, healthy skin?

Arriving home from a routine day at work, Anna Cottrell has no idea that her life is about to change forever. But discovering the stabbed body of a stranger in her flat, then becoming prime suspect in a murder enquiry is only the beginning. Her persistent claims of innocence start to crumble when new evidence links her irrevocably with the victim...
Leading her first murder enquiry, DCI Helen Lavery unravels a trail of deception, family secrets and betrayal. When people close to the Cottrell family start to disappear, Lavery is forced into a race against time.

Can she catch the killer before he executes his ultimate victim?
Genre: Psychological Crime Thriller / Murder Mystery

About the Author:

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Jane Isaac lives in rural Northamptonshire, UK with her husband, daughter and dog, Bollo. Jane studied creative writing, and later specialist fiction with the London School of Journalism.

Jane blogs about her writing experience, 'Diary of a Newbie Novelist' at She is also co-author at the Pyjama Club.

Two of Jane's short stories, Duplicity and Perilous Truths, will appear in Crime Anthologies released in 2012 by Rainstorm Press and Bridge House Publishing. An Unfamiliar Murder is her first novel, 'due for release' in 2012.

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