Howard Hughes Everyone Lies

ISBN 13: 9781472107572

Everyone Lies

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9781472107572: Everyone Lies
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About the Author:

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. Professor Barclay is a world renowned forensics expert and senior lecturer in forensic science at Robert Gordon University, Aberdeen. Everyone Lies is their first collaboration.

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

1

‘A trivial example of observation and inference.’

 

A. C. DOYLE, THE BOSCOMBE VALLEY MYSTERY

Monday morning, 9 a.m., in A12 lecture theatre, Robert Gordon University, Aberdeen. Small and slightly cramped, certainly not the best lecture theatre on the St Andrews Street campus, but Professor Nick Fennimore liked it, and always asked for it. The walls were clad in ochre-stained pine, and the seating, gently raked, ran six to a row either side of the aisle. There were several curious burn marks on the floor near the demo bench – relics of his famous ‘Petrol Makes a Good Fire Extinguisher’ demo.

Today, fifty students were seated or slouched in the tiered seating, chatting, texting, sleeping off the weekend’s hangovers. The fluorescent light reflecting off ochre walls added to the jaundiced pallor of the serious Union Street club-goers. The last few drifted in just before nine and began shedding jackets and hats and scarves. Aberdeen in winter was no place for dressing down.

Nick Fennimore was forty-two, though he could pass for thirty-five. Above average height, but not exceptionally tall, he was lean, with strong, broad hands that were more calloused than you would expect to see in a forensic scientist. He kept his dark brown hair short. Whether teaching, or visiting crime scenes – even working in ditches with the soupy remains of corpses – he wore suit and tie. Not because there was a dress code for staff – Fennimore was one of only two people in the building who regularly turned out in business wear – but after years of working with the police, that was how he felt most comfortable. He cleared his throat, the murmur of voices subsided and, after a last-minute scramble for seats, he had their attention.

‘What’s the most powerful tool available to a forensic scientist?’

These were first-year undergrads, several months into the course, and some of the shine had been rubbed off them. He got a muttered, slightly pained, ‘DNA’ in response.

‘Really?’ he said. ‘The top 10 per cent of Hibernia’s brightest young minds, and that’s the best you can do?’ This was Fennimore’s preferred approach: flattery wrapped up in an insult.

Some of the more combative types sat up a bit straighter, but nobody offered an alternative.

‘I know, I know … it’s Monday…’ He plucked a test tube from the rack in front of him. ‘Okay, easy question: what’s this?’

‘A straw-coloured liquid.’ This from a dark-haired lad with a short goatie.

‘Interesting.’ Fennimore frowned at his laptop which stood open on the long demonstration bench. Still frowning, he looked at the contents of the test tube. ‘It looks like wee. It’s in a test tube that we use for testing wee. But you’re not willing to hazard a guess that it is wee?’

‘Not a chance.’

A few people smiled.

‘Why?’

‘Because. It wouldn’t be very scientific.’

‘Scientists don’t guess?’

‘Not unless they know all the facts.’

Fennimore smiled. ‘Sadly, we rarely know all the facts. What I think you mean is that you believe I’m not above staging a set-up to catch out some poor alcohol-fuddled first year, and you’re not falling for it.’

The goatie smirked, enjoying the attention.

‘Fair enough.’ Fennimore held the test tube up to the nasty white glare of the low-energy lights. ‘Okay – for the record – this is indeed urine. The problem with DNA and urine is you’d be lucky to get a few epithelial cells from the urethra. So DNA isn’t likely to help you identify the urinator – even if this is an assault case and the assailant peed on the victim – and that particular perversion is not a discussion point in this lecture.’ It wasn’t meant to shock, it was merely a statement of fact.

‘So, coming back to my original question, our most powerful tool is…’

‘Observation.’ Josh Brown – interesting on two counts: that he was here at all; and that Fennimore hadn’t seen him. But Josh Brown had the knack of being in a room without being noticed – until he wanted to be noticed. Now, it seemed, he did.

The subject of this lecture was ‘Observation and Assessment’. The title was listed in their course schedule and it was projected from his laptop onto the screen behind him.

‘Correct,’ Fennimore said, ‘but you don’t get full brownie points on account of the BIG FAT CLUE.’ He glanced over his shoulder at the lecture title, and a few of his audience groaned at their oversight. Fennimore slapped his head and in a fair impersonation of a generic student, said, ‘Mondays. Nightmare!’

They shuffled and grinned, and one or two of the girls even laughed.

He nodded to the AV tech in the glass booth at the rear of the hall. A second screen lit up on the wall to his right, projecting an image of the rack of test tubes, magnified a metre high.

‘All right. Observations?’

A tawny-haired girl on the third row raised her hand. ‘They’re different colours?’ Only lately arrived from one of the smaller Hebridean Isles, she was good, but not convinced of her worth, yet.

‘Colours, or shades?’

‘Um …Both?’

‘Describe them.’

Embarrassed, she said, ‘Well, you can see.’

‘We can all see, but can you observe?’ he said, paraphrasing Sherlock Holmes.

She blushed, frowning, but he held her gaze, and finally she accepted the inevitable, took a breath and launched in. ‘You’ve shades of lemon and honey and pale amber and caramel.’ Did she know that she’d described beautifully every shade of island malt from pale oak-matured Islay to sherry-casked Jura?

‘And this?’ He selected a test tube from the end of the rack; it shone slightly pink in the artificial light.

‘That’s altogether different,’ she said. ‘It looks … Well, it looks like somebody’s been knocking back too many Sea Breezes.’ She got a laugh of recognition.

‘Excellent.’ Fennimore looked around the room; now they were beginning to wake up, he could hit them with a few more facts. ‘Vodka, like all alcohol, dehydrates – which would concentrate the pretty pink dye from cranberry juice in a Sea Breeze. So maybe this person died of acute alcoholic poisoning. Or maybe not – but it’s worth considering. Beetroot can turn urine an even more impressive shade of pink, and we might be interested in that – for instance, does this fit with accounts of what this person had for their last meal? Perhaps they’re allergic to beetroot, and died of it.’

Some were showing an interest, some had even picked up their pens as if they intended to use them.

‘You might also note quantity, turbidity, the presence of casts. So – let’s say we’ve observed what we can of appearance. Now what?’

‘Smell,’ someone said.

‘For example?’

‘Well, diabetic urine smells weird.’

‘Define weird.’

‘I dunno, like nail polish remover.’

‘Which is mainly acetone, of course. In urine, it’s ketones that cause the pear drops smell. It’s caused by ketoacidosis – a sign that they’re not taking their insulin as they should. And it’s potentially fatal.’ Pens hovered above notepads; he almost had them. Fennimore leaned forward, conspiratorially. ‘When you’re looking for a possible cause of death, a fatal disease could be significant.’

Some of them actually did him the honour of committing ink to paper. Now they could see a point to squinting at glass tubes filled with someone else’s bodily fluids.

‘You also get ketonuria in anorexia – if the body is starved, for whatever reason, it starts metabolizing fatty acids – eating itself to keep the cells alive.’

At the last count, 5 per cent of the UK population had diabetes – statistical probability said there would be two or three diabetics in this lecture hall alone – and he’d give good odds that every one of them knew someone who had an eating disorder.

‘I was going to save this till later, but since diabetes has come up…’ Fennimore reached below the demonstration bench and fetched out a neat rack of ten test tubes. ‘Diabetic urine can smell sweet. Have you thought how it might taste?’

He heard a rumble of alarm. ‘It’s perfectly safe,’ he told them. ‘Fresh urine is sterile, and these samples have been tested bug-free – in fact all of this urine has been passed by the management.’ He looked brightly around the room. ‘So, who wants to go first?’

They weren’t falling for it. Many of them sat back, folded their arms, shook their heads, the rest avoided his gaze. ‘You don’t trust me?’ he said, trying to look crestfallen.

‘We’d want to see a demo first,’ the goatie said. A slow roll of laughter followed: they knew Fennimore couldn’t resist a challenge.

He took out the first tube in the rack and stared at it for a few moments. ‘If I do this, you have to do exactly the same.’

He waited until they nodded and muttered agreement, then shrugged, popped the lid off the tube, closed the mouth of it with his index finger, inverted it, dabbed his finger on his tongue and smacked his lips. ‘Sweet. So that one’s diabetic.’ He scanned the room.

‘Now it’s your turn.’

A few declined, but the majority were game. Test tubes were passed along the rows; he watched closely, and identified Josh Brown as the one person who had done exactly as he had. When he was sure they had all finished, he said, ‘Josh. What does it taste like?’

‘I dunno.’

‘You didn’t taste it?’

‘No.’

‘Why?’

‘We agreed to do the same as you.’

‘Would you demonstrate?’

Josh stood up and turned side-on, so the majority of the room could see him. He repeated the action exactly as Fennimore had performed it. A half-dozen students exclaimed in dismay, but the rest looked perplexed.

‘Again, more slowly, please.’

Josh closed the top of the tube with his index finger, inverted the tube, righted it, then raised his middle finger like he was flipping them the bird, and touched that to his tongue.

Now they understood. There were exclamations of disgust; someone even retched. ‘Before you all stampede for the toilets…’ Fennimore raised his test tube and tipped the liquid down his throat to further exclamations and outraged laughter. ‘Lucozade,’ he explained.

*   *   *

Fennimore wrapped up a few minutes before the hour and the lecture ended with the muted applause of flip-up seats, as his students gathered their belongings and made way for the next group, already gathering outside. In the final half-hour, they had begun to look at toxicology and metabolism, and Fennimore had handed out more samples for them to identify, among other things, signs of infection (musty odour); medication for infection (the slightly sulphurous whiff of penicillin); drug habits, including ephedrine (cat pee); amphetamine (brut wine); and amytriptyline (Chanel No.5).

He turned his phone on as the last few stragglers shuffled out, and it rang immediately. He answered the call, shutting down his laptop and gathering his notes with his free hand, making way for the next lecturer.

‘Yep?’

‘Nick? It’s Kate.’

The sound of her voice blew through him like a blast of air off the North Sea. His heart thudded and he felt the tug of the past like a dangerous undercurrent.

‘Simms,’ she added, as if he didn’t know her voice as well as he knew his own. ‘Can we talk?’

You got the wrong number, he wanted to tell her. You made a mistake. Instead, he heard himself say, ‘It’s been a while.’

‘Four years.’ The inevitable pause, awkward, painful to them both.

He cleared his throat. ‘Are you still in London?’

‘Greater Manchester Police. The Met was a bit of a dead end for me, after the Crime Faculty.’

‘My fault,’ he said. ‘I’m sorry for that.’

‘I’d do it all again in a heartbeat.’

He felt something shift in his chest. A burden he’d been carrying around for five years.

She started to speak, but he talked over her.

‘Look, Kate, I’m in a lecture room, and I’m kind of in the way. Can I call you back?’

‘No. Nick, listen to me, don’t hang up.’

He heard a sharp edge of desperation in her voice, and couldn’t harden himself enough to close the phone. So he bundled his belongings together and stood in the corridor with his laptop at his feet among the surge of incoming students, while Kate Simms explained.

The police authority’s six-monthly crime review had turned up an excess of overdoses, and she had been assigned to look into it as part of their public protection remit.

‘As jobs go, it was routine, low level, something simple and undemanding for my first try-out.’

First try-out? When he worked with Kate Simms at the National Crime Faculty, she was a young Detective Sergeant with a career path carved out of pure gold. Her placement there should have put her on accelerated promotion from Detective Sergeant to Detective Chief Inspector within a couple of years.

‘Kate,’ he said, ‘it’s been five years since the Crime Faculty.’

‘You don’t need to tell me – they kept me on the naughty step for four of them.’

He imagined her, a half-smile on her face, reaching for cynical from the top shelf of cop attitude. He felt a thud of guilt.

‘It was a straightforward paper review,’ Simms said. ‘A box-ticking exercise. I was expected to read through the coroner’s verdicts, report that it was just a bit of a spike in the numbers of deaths, nothing to worry about – it happens occasionally.’

‘What changed?’

‘I hardly had time to divvy up the paperwork before we had another death. Except this one’s got media potential and suddenly the top brass are asking for updates and demanding to be kept in the loop.’

‘Define “media potential”,’ Fennimore said.

‘You’ve heard of Stacey?’

‘Stacey who?’

‘Not Stacey – StayC, with a capital C.’

‘Not ringing any bells,’ he said.

‘She reached the quarter-finals of Stars! Got kicked out when she was caught in one of the toilet cubicles at the venue snorting cocaine. A week later, she’s found dead in her mother’s back bedroom, a hypodermic stuck in her arm. Heroin. She was written up as a suspected overdose, but the pathologist wasn’t convinced – she wasn’t a regular user. I’d already been in touch about the excess cases so he knew I’d be interested. He expedited the toxicology, suspended the post-mortem, and called me.’

‘And?’ The question was out before he could bite it back.

‘The tox results show lowish levels of heroin, and some methylecgonine, as well.’

‘The methylecgonine just indicates she’s a cocaine user, which you knew already – it’s not necessarily suspicious.’

‘That’s exactly what the NPIA Forensic Specialist Advisor said.’ When Fennimore worked with the police, the National Crime Faculty had advised police on forensic matters, but since 2007, technology and support services had come under the National Policing Improvement Agency.

‘You should listen to your FSA,’ he said.

‘I would, but the numbers are weird, Nick. We’ve got a sudden surge in ODs in the last six to eight months, most of them female. Why?’

Mostly female – now that is interesting. He almost allowed himself to be drawn into speculating why that might be, but he pushed away the questions that began to crowd in, the possible threads of hypotheses he could see spinning into the distance, and said, ‘Let it go, Kate; addicts die all the time. Follow the FSA’s advice, do the review, write up your report and move on.’ It was brutal, but he’d made himself a promise, and he wasn’t about to go back on that, even...

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Book Description Little, Brown Book Group, United Kingdom, 2013. Paperback. Condition: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. 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. Seller Inventory # AA29781472107572

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