Harry Devlin arrives home on the night of his 32nd birthday to find his estranged wife, Liz, sitting in the living room, wearing one of his T shirts, as if she’d never left. Harry is a Liverpool lawyer & he’s spent the last two years hoping that Liz would come back. She’d left him for a gym owner & small-time crook, Michael Coghlan, when she realised that Harry could never provide the money for the lifestyle Liz aspired to. Now, she begs Harry to let her stay for a while. She wants to leave Coghlan but not to return to Harry. Liz has met a man she thinks is the love of her life – if only he weren’t married & dithering about leaving his wife. She’s afraid of Coghlan & thinks she’s being followed. The next night, Liz arranges to meet Harry at the Ferry Club but doesn’t show up & doesn’t return to his flat. Harry is woken early the next morning by two policemen who tell him Liz is dead. She’d been found stabbed to death in an alleyway.
Initially Harry finds himself under suspicion as the police are sceptical of his story. Harry can only think of revenging himself on Coghlan who he’s sure is behind Liz’s murder. So, he begins his own investigation. Tracking down Coghlan immerses Harry in Liverpool’s underworld & leads him into danger as Coghlan & then his lawyer try to warn him off. Harry also discovers a lot about the woman he loved. Liz was a fascinating, desirable but shallow woman who had several men lusting after her. The list of potential suspects grows as Harry talks to Liz’s sister, brother-in-law & a childhood friend, but Harry is focused on Coghlan as he tries to find any evidence against him while also exonerating himself.
All the Lonely People is the first book in the Harry Devlin series. Harry is a great character, in the tradition of the lone detective walking the mean streets of Chandler & Hamnett. He’s honest, sensitive, kind but tough & determined. Foolish sometimes in the way he stubbornly keeps searching for the truth even after a brutal bashing that almost kills him. Martin Edwards describes Harry’s world beautifully. The soul-destroying atmosphere of the courts & police station, the sleazy clubs & the refuse tip where Harry goes to follow up a lead – this is the darker side of Liverpool. Harry’s not quite alone though. His partner, Jim Crusoe, bored receptionist Suzanne & needy neighbour, Brenda, are well-rounded characters who add a lot to the plot as well as helping the reader get to know Harry. All the Lonely People is an excellent start to the series.
Luckily for crime fans, all of the Harry Devlin books are now back in print. My copy of All the Lonely People is a recent reprint from crime publishers, Arcturus. The whole series is also now available as e-books or POD paperbacks from Andrews UK & I’m very pleased that my library has added them to our e-book collection. I read Waterloo Sunset a couple of years ago & I’m looking forward to reading the rest of the series from the beginning while I wait impatiently for the next book in Martin’s Lake District series. Luckily as this post on Martin’s blog makes clear, I won’t have too much longer to wait!