A.D. Garrett’s Simms & Fennimore Series

margaret-murphyAbout the author:

A.D. Garrett is the pen name for Margaret Murphy

Born: April 14, 1959, Liverpool, Lancashire, UK


BSc- Environmental Biology- University of Liverpool, Liverpool, UK

M.A.-Writing- Liverpool John Moores University, Liverpool, UK

Forensic Consultants:

Helen PepperHelen Pepper


B.A.- Education – The Open University- UK

M.A.-Education- University of Teesside, Middlesbrough, UK

dave-barclayDave Barclay


BSc- Chemistry & Zoology- University of Hull, Hull, UK

Honorary DSc.-Forensic Sciences- University of Hull, Hull, UK

Website: www.adgarrett.com

Thriller Sub-genre: Forensic Thriller

Publisher: Minotaur Books

Future of the series: The most recent book in the series is entitled Truth Will Out which was recently released on 11/3/16.

Review of the latest in the series – Truth Will Out  

The Simon Review

Margaret Murphy, an author known for her psychological thrillers, and Dave Barclay, a well-known forensic expert in Great Britain, have teamed together to write a forensic thriller series under the pseudonym A.D. Garrett. The series revolves around two characters, Kate Simms, a cop for the city of Manchester, England and Nick Fennimore, a professor of forensic science and former scientific advisor for the National Crime Faculty (NCF), an organization that was established in 1996 in the United Kingdom to provide independent support to investigators of serious crimes. The series begins with the first novel Everyone Lies, with Kate Simms approaching Fennimore after a five year hiatus from the last time they worked together, to request help from Fennimore on a case that Simms is investigating. Simms and Fennimore’s professional relationship ended five years previous as a result of a personal tragedy that Fennimore experienced. Fennimore’s wife and daughter were kidnapped and Fennimore’s wife’s body was later found murdered with the daughter’s whereabouts still unknown. Fennimore compelled with grief, unofficially abused his position at the NCF to investigate the crime against his family. Simms not only supported Fennimore’s position but helped him in his investigation and the resulting aftermath damaged both of their careers and resulted in them parting ways. Fennimore was relieved of his duties at the NCF and Simms was demoted from working on murder investigations, so when Simms approaches Fennimore for advice, Simms walks a tight-rope to conceal Fennimore’s help in her investigation.

The investigation, at first, seems to be a simple case of a cluster of heroin drug overdoses which resulted in death, one of the deaths included a rising star in a reality TV talent show by the name of StacyC, but Simms believes there is more to their deaths than a simple overdose. Being the low man on the totem pole at the police force, she isn’t given much support into a possible murder investigation, so she turns to Fennimore for help. From there on the investigation becomes more complicated and considerably more sinister.

Fennimore and Simms relationship is complicated mainly because of Fennimore’s family tragedy and the resulting damage done to Simms career, as well as hidden romantic feelings that exist between the two. Fennimore is a driven man and is obsessed with finding his wife’s murderer and the fate of his daughter. With the ending of Everyone Lies, Simms wants both her professional and personal relationship with Fennimore to end, because she doesn’t want to confront Fennimore’s obsession in finding his daughter as well as her own suppressed feelings toward him, but that is not to be, as Fennimore tracks down Simms while she is working on a training sabbatical in the US in the latest book of the series, Believe No One.

There are a couple of on-going storylines as the series progresses; Fennimore’s obsession in finding his daughter and the secretive life of Fennimore’s graduate student, Josh Brown. In the first novel, Brown is a bit of a mystery man, with Simms having an uneasy feeling about him, and this mystery becomes more intriguing in the second novel, as the reader begins to learn more about Josh Brown. I have a feeling that Josh Brown will take on a larger role as the series continues.

I feel this series has a lot of promise and is a must read for the forensic groupies, however, I am uncertain how I feel about Fennimore. Fennimore’s scientific quirkiness doesn’t quite have that spark that I have found in other fictional forensic scientist characters that I love, such as The Body Farm’s Bill Brockton, with his geeky sense of humor, or Tim Downs’ eccentric entomologist, Nick Polchak, who relates more to the insect kingdom than with the human species. I want to see ‘geek’ with Fennimore, but it is not quite there. Fennimore likes to gamble and statistics is his thing, which could be an endearing trait as the series progresses or it could backfire, as gambling is often seen as an addiction more so than just a simple form of entertainment and statistics can be quite boring at least in a fictional setting (I apologize to all the statisticians out there, but statistics doesn’t have thriller written all over it, except to statisticians).

A Meeting of Statistician Thrill Seekers (Wikimedia Common)

Simms on the other hand, I do like and she has a lot of promise as a character that will grow as the series progresses. With a stressed out marriage and two children that she neglects, her conflicting feelings that she has for Fennimore, and her driving desire to right the world of wrong, it looks like her situation will become more complex as the series continues.

Even though the two novels could be read as stand-alones, Believe No One will be more appreciated if Everyone Lies is read first.  There are some graphically intense scenes of torture, so I wouldn’t recommend for young readers.

Simon’s pick:

Most Favorite Novel in the Series- Everyone Lies- more forensics

Least Favorite Novel in the Series-Believe No One- less forensics

What about the science? A.D. Garrett is a pen name for co-authors Margaret Murphy and Dave Barclay. Barclay is the forensic expert in this collaboration, and has had extensive experience working in the area of forensic science including being the former head of physical evidence for the United Kingdom National Crime and Operations Faculty formally known as the National Crime Faculty. With these credentials, you can be confident that the science in the series is sound.

The Nick Fennimore Technical Word in Review: Low Template DNA (LTDNA) – Also known as low copy DNA (LCDNA), is a DNA forensic methodology that generates a DNA profile from as little as three human cells, which is useful in cases where there is little DNA evidence.

Deoxyribonucleic acid or more readily known as DNA is the blueprint for all life forms and is the reason that each person is unique. For the most part, the sequence of DNA is almost identical from individual to individual, which is good, because the proteins that are encoded by DNA must conserve their sequence from generation to generation in order to be functional. Unacceptable changes to a genes code would lead to disastrous results. Even though DNA is virtually identical from individual to individual, there are segments of the DNA that are non-coding and are prone to changes. These regions are known as hyper-variable and it is these regions that are of interest to the forensic scientist.

In all forensic DNA methodologies, the DNA is exponentially amplified using a method called the polymerase chain reaction (PCR). Amplification is necessary in order to ‘see’ the DNA using other methodologies that visualize and interpret the amplified DNA. What makes LTDNA different from other forensic DNA methodologies is the number of times the DNA is amplified, however, this additional amplification comes at a price which makes this type of methodology controversial in it use.

One problem in the LTDNA methodology is that it is prone to contamination issues, as it wcould be easy for DNA from outside sources to contaminate the sample and then be amplified. Other problems that occur is in the methodology itself, with such small amounts of DNA to amplify, errors can occur in the early stages of amplification when parts of the DNA are not amplified which results in what is called ‘allelic dropout’ which produces less than reliable results.

Because of the controversy behind the LTDNA procedure, the method has recently been banned in US courts as evidence after a judge in Brooklyn, New York threw out the LTDNA evidence during a trial saying that the procedure did not stand up to the ‘Frye Standard’. The Frye Standard is based on the criteria that any scientific technique used to generate results used as evidence in a court of law must be readily accepted by the scientific community to be reliable. Unfortunately, the scientific community rarely agrees on anything, which is just the nature of the business, so the Frye Standard could be a problem for many types of forensic technologies especially anything that is fairly new. The method is still acceptable for use in court in the UK as well as other countries including Italy which was used as evidence in the Amanda Knox case.

Simms said, ‘Low Template DNA is a miracle of science, don’t you think? Say, for example, you rested your hand on the page when you faked signing the log, you might have rubbed off a few skin cells. D’you think I should ask for DNA trace on the log?’ – Everyone Lies

Books in the Series by Order:

Vote for your favorite Forensic Thriller on the Forensic Fiction List on Goodreads Listopia.

Goodreads Forensic Fiction Best List

Most Favorite in the series: Truth Will Out with a score of 4.29

Least Favorite in the series: Believe No One with a score of 3.88

Based on overall ratings from Goodreads, Library Thing and Amazon (US & UK)

Everyone_Lies#1 –Everyone Lies – 2013

Listed #154 out of 164 on Goodreads Best Science Thrillers Book List

First Line:

She calls the man Vilkacis, which he likes, but only because he doesn’t know what it means.


Professor Nick Fennimore: A forensic specialist

DCI Kate Simms: Detective Chief Inspector of the Manchester Police Department

Josh Brown: Fennimore’s graduate student

Marta: High class call girl from Eastern Europe

Detective Superintendent Tanford: Give Simms support during her investigation

Sol and Frank Henry: Owners of a “massage parlor” and drug dealers

George Howard: A rival “massage parlor” owner to the Henry brothers

Detective Superintendent Spry: Simms immediate supervisor

The Setting

Manchester, England

DCI 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.

She looked around at her team. ‘A case can turn on a single question – so you’ve got to keep asking. The more you ask, the better your chances of coming up with that big breakthrough. For instance, the pub landlord is sure Howard knew the men he was drinking with, so why does Howard swear otherwise?’

Renwick glanced uneasily at the constable next to him. ‘He’s a liar?’

Everyone lies, Sergeant. But why would Howard lie about the two people who might be able to alibi him?’

Looking for a review of Everyone Lies?  Check out:


Book’d Out

Raven Crime Reads

Crime Pieces

Rebecca Bradley: Murder Down To A Tea

The Bookbag


Mystery Sequels

Murder Underground Broke The Camel’s Back

Amazon Rating-US: 3.82 out of 5 stars based on 11 ratings

Amazon Rating-UK: 4.42 out of 5 stars based on 240 ratings

GoodReads Rating: 3.65 out of 5 stars based on 481 ratings

Library Rating: 3.36 out of 5 stars based on 11 ratings

Total Score 3.90  (updated 6/6/19)

Sequencing gel

Believe_No_One#2-Believe No One- 2014

First Line:

If there’s one thing an Oklahoma farmer values, it’s water.


Professor Nick Fennimore, Kate Simms, and Josh Brown

Deputy Sheriff Abigail Hicks: Cop for Oklahoma’s Williams County Sheriff’s Office and love interest for Fennimore

Sheriff Launer: Hicks’ jerky supervisor

The Setting

Illinois, Missouri, Oklahoma

Forensic expert Professor Nick Fennimore has engineered lectures in Chicago and St Louis – a ploy to get to Detective Chief Inspector Kate Simms. She’s in the United States on sabbatical with St Louis PD, and he’s keen to see her again. Simms is working with a ‘method swap’ team, reviewing cold cases, sharing expertise. But Simms came to the US to escape the fallout from their previous case – the last thing she needs is Fennimore complicating her life. A call for help from a sheriff’s deputy in Oklahoma seems like a welcome distraction for the professor – until he hears the details: a mother dead, her child gone – echoes of Fennimore’s own tragedy.

Fennimore looked into the soft brown of her irises; when Kate Simms was angry or amused, amber light seemed to flash from the centres, but this was different; more complicated. He wished he was better at reading people, but as Simms often told him, he lacked the social skills for subtlety. Oh, he recognized evasion and bullshit easily enough; that was the scientist in him. Assume everyone lie, believe no one and question everything. But the subtler emotions and non-verbal cues often escaped him.

Looking for a review of Believe No One?  Check out:


Book’d Out

Raven Crime Read

Rebecca Bradley: Murder Down To A Tea


The Bookbag

Promoting Crime Fiction

Amazon Rating: 4.40 out of 5 stars based on 5 ratings

Amazon Rating-UK: 4.45 out of 5 stars based on 16 ratings

GoodReads Rating: 3.82 out of 5 stars based on 201 ratings

Library Thing Rating: 3.63 out of 5 stars based on 4 ratings

Total Score 3.88  (updated 6/6/19)



Truth Will Out#3-Truth Will Out- 2016

Listed #96 out of 121 on Goodreads Best Forensic Fiction Book List

My review of Truth Will Out  

First Line:

Gail Hammond was having a hellish day.

A mother and daughter are snatched on their way home from the cinema. The crime bears a number of chilling similarities to a cold case Prof. Nick Fennimore was involved in. Then Nick begins receiving taunting messages – is he being targeted by the kidnapper?

Meanwhile, a photograph emailed from Paris could bring Fennimore closer to discovering the fate of his daughter Suzie, now missing for six years. He seeks help from his old friend, DCI Kate Simms, recently returned from the US. But Kate is soon blocked from the investigation… The mother and childs’ lives hang in the balance as Fennimore and Simms try to break through police bureaucracy to identify their abductor.

Looking for a review of Truth Will Out?  Check out:


Chapter In My Life

Auntie M Writes

Jen Med’s Book Reviews

Purple Revolver

Mrs Bloggs’ Books

Raven Crime Reads

Murder Down To A Tea

Amazon Rating: 4.57 out of 5 stars based on 7 ratings

Amazon Rating-UK: 4.52 out of 5 stars based on 21 ratings

GoodReads Rating: 4.23 out of 5 stars based on 104 ratings

Library Thing Rating: 4.00 out of 5 stars based on 1 rating

Total Score 4.29  (updated 6/6/19)

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