Monday, 5 August 2013

All the Lonely People by Martin Edwards (1991)

Your mind’s playing tricks, Harry Devlin said to himself.
As he reached for the front door key, he could hear a woman laughing inside his flat.


A woman he can hear laughing inside him long after she is stabbed to death in a deserted alley and long after he begins a desperate hunt for her killer.

Lawyer Harry Devlin is the prime suspect in the murder of his beautiful wife, Liz, but it does not discourage him from going after Liverpool mobster Mick Coghlan whom he suspects of killing the woman he still loved.


Liz had left Harry for Mick. One day she leaves Mick and returns to Harry’s flat where she seeks temporary shelter from Mick.


Harry is bitter but not unforgiving. He welcomes Liz “back into his life” as he is still crazy about her and dreams of a new life together. The next day she is found dead.

The lawyer for “small time crooks, desperadoes and drunken losers,” as British lawyer and crime writer Frances Fyfield describes Harry Devlin in her introduction, drops everything and scours the lower side of Liverpool for the man who killed Liz.

Harry is not a professional sleuth but his dogged pursuit of the truth behind her mysterious death marks him out as a seasoned detective. His inquiries, often polite and respectful, and his investigations, fearless if reckless at times, reveal to him a side of Liz he’d never suspected.

Wouldn’t it have been better if you’d left it alone and moved on, Harry? You can't help asking as you read and experience his turmoil.

Martin Edwards is an award 
winning writer
British crime writer Martin Edwards has characterised Harry Devlin as a decent man, a people’s lawyer, and a caring, if estranged, husband, perhaps even as the victim in the story. On the other hand, Edwards has taken care not to paint Liz in poor light, regarding her as one misguided in her quest for the good life.

A bunch of oddball characters including friends and felons move in and out of Harry’s investigative path, none more appealing than his next door neighbour Brenda Rixton, an attractive woman with an unhappy past. She recognises Harry’s worth and lends more than a shoulder, helping him cope with the crisis without getting in his way.

All the Lonely People is Martin Edwards’ debut novel and the first in his acclaimed Harry Devlin series. It was nominated for the John Creasey Dagger for best first crime novel of the year. I liked his style of writing, which is devoid of complexity, and construction of the plot, where we move with Harry in every chapter. There are no sub-plots. Everything revolves around the Liverpool attorney. Edwards is simply saying, "This is Harry Devlin. He has a story to tell you," and it's riveting.

I hope to read some of the other novels in the series and find out how Harry Devlin’s widowed character develops.

Martin Edwards is also the author of another series, Lake District Mysteries, featuring DCI Hannah Scarlett and historian Daniel Kind. He has also written standalone novels, short stories, and non-fiction, and edited several anthologies. While he blogs on crime fiction at Do You Write Under Your Own Name? you can learn more about his books at his Website.

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12 comments:

  1. A new author for me. Thanks for the review.

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    1. You're welcome, Mystica. I hope you get around to reading some of his crime fiction. This was my first book by Mr. Edwards and I plan to read some of the others.

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  2. Sounds intriguing. The plot reminds me a bit of a movie I saw with Harrison Ford as a lawyer who had supposedly killed his wife. I'll give it a look see.

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    1. Charles, I agree the story is intriguing and I liked its single-pointed focus with the chain of events revolving around the main character. I think the Harrison Ford movie you're referring to is PRESUMED INNOCENT which I saw a long time ago though I haven't read Scott Turow's novel on which it is based.

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  3. Sounds great Prashant, thanks, I really want to start reading Martin's books as I only hear good things. The Turow book PRESUMED INNOCENT (like its sequel, INNOCENT) is a great read as I recall with a fabulous twist - and for once the movie version was pretty good too actually!

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    1. Thanks, Sergio. ALL THE LONELY PEOPLE is a good book written in a methodical way. I'd assume the title refers to the essentially lonely lives that Harry and Liz and some of the other characters in the story lead. I have never read Scott Turow though I have heard a lot about his legal thrillers. He is one of many authors on my reading radar.

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  4. I just finally found a copy of this recently. I have been wanting to read it forever. So glad to hear that you liked it.

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    1. Tracy, I look forward to reading your thoughts on the book. I think you'll like it as I did. Mr. Edwards knows how to put life into his characters. I might add that I failed to nail the culprit as it happens so often with Agatha Christie novels.

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  5. Prashant, another author I have ignored. Not that I need any more on the pile but Devlin sounds intriguing and an interesting read. Thanks....I think!

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    1. Col, don't I know what that's like! I read fewer contemporary authors than I do early writers, across genres, and I'm trying for some kind of balance between the two. Harry Devlin is a likeable character.

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    2. I'm similar in that I have a lot already from the 70's, 80's, 90's on my shelves. Less from earlier than that and not so much "new" stuff. I keep getting my head turned by the latest this and the latest that though!

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    3. Col, ditto here. I have enjoyed reading books published in the decades you mention, especially espionage and Cold War related, and many more are yet to be read. Besides, I go back to writers of the 19th and early 20th century on account of my interest in the Classics and Frontier fiction. I know I'm losing out on current authors but you can't please them all, can you? I usually read two or three books by an author, to place them on record, unless it's someone like John Irving, Ray Bradbury, John Steinbeck, Alan Sillitoe, Jack Higgins, A.J. Cronin and some others whose books I love reading.

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