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Past Group Book Discussions > A Long Time Dead - Discussions with Spoilers!

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Simon (Highwayman) (highwayman) | 4698 comments A Long Time dead

Discussions with Spoilers Here!


A Long Time dead


message 2: by Oak Tree (new)

Oak Tree | 50 comments Did you find characters in this book rang true? The good people had flaws.
There are dodgy people in every walk of life of course, but did you wonder if life is this dangerous for every SOCO (And why are they still doing the job!)


message 3: by Kath (new)

Kath Middleton | 25093 comments Ha! I must admit that I wondered if the author has had any dangerous experiences at work. Mind you he's probably there at the moment getting fitted up for someone else's crime!


message 4: by Andrew (new)

Andrew Barrett | 1612 comments You could argue that being a firefighter or a nurse in A&E is just as dangerous.

We deal with the victims of crime all day long; some deserve a good hug and a nice hot cuppa, others can be rude or downright dangerous of course.

As a SOCO you're involved with finding evidence to potentially lock someone up. And the criminals take exception to this. They often set traps in their drugs factories which can electrocute you, or even kill you. You have to watch out for the boobie traps that may consist of razor blades or even prepped shotgun cartridges. It's like a game of It's a Knockout.

And then of course, you're dealing with the criminals themselves, some of whom seem to have no compunction at pointing a rifle at you, especially if they're high or drunk; or just plain beating you up for your evidence or your juicy camera equipment while your back is turned.

I always say if you don't mind blood and guts, you can easily do this job. I recall my mouth watering as I picked up and bagged someone's guts from his back garden one day - I won't tell you how they got there. And I would love to tell you of the murder victims, but I can't; suffice it to say it never ceases to amaze me what some people can do to others.

You also need to be aware of the diseases they can carry when alive or dead.

All this makes for a fairly interesting career. Of course most days are fairly routine, you can go weeks at a time yawning, but sometimes a person or an event will make you sharpen up and you wonder if you're going home tonight or going to the hospital. Sorry if that sounds melodramatic.

For a hermit who doesn't like being around people, I do okay; working alone for the most part, I perform an act all day long, where I can talk with all kinds of people who are experiencing a spectrum of emotions - usually bad ones - and can think of evidence recovery while keeping an eye out behind me. I deal with reams of boring paperwork, work with groups of armed officers or the military, work in a team to take out dealers... you get the idea.

All in all, it's a good job. And for all my griping, wouldn't swap it. That's why I do this and have done for 16 years. That, and the fact I couldn't do anything else now anyway - no qualifications for anything else.


message 5: by Jud (last edited Sep 14, 2012 04:16AM) (new)

Jud (judibud) | 18543 comments I want to be a SOCO :o(

I really liked the characters in this book even the (yikes how do I put this with no spoilers...) culprit at the end. The author wrote the story so it was almost understandable why they did what they did rather than just having a crazed lunatic who enjoyed killing people (although perhaps this is to come). NOw I look back and feel sorry for them and wish that life had gone differently for them.

There was something in each of the characters that, I felt, you could identify with. Even the 'hero' wasn't perfect and just lead as normal a life as he could. That's one thing that bothers me about other crime novels like Kathy Reichs and Tess Gerittsen the heroines are emotionally stunted (they are all called "ice-queens" or similar) and push their love interests (usually someone they see regularly/work with) away just because they love them and then every time they see them they go through all the rigmarole. That gets boring quickly. It was refreshing to have a character like Roger for a change.


message 6: by Andrew (new)

Andrew Barrett | 1612 comments Of course, I should point out (since my last post has had each of your reaching for the noose), that we do have a jolly good time most of the time.

Camaraderie is very high (even if sometimes morale is not), and we often take the micky out of the police and the things they get up to. But we have a very good working relationship with them too.

Often times, we can be heard having Nerf gun battles in our office just before knocking off time at eleven pm (I shall deny this if questioned further! ahaha), and practical jokes are a must.


message 7: by Andrew (new)

Andrew Barrett | 1612 comments Thank you, Jud, for mentioning the characters.

Story is extremely important (of course), but I always maintain that character is king. If readers don't care about them, they have the right to close the book and go do the ironing.

Part of writing an indepth character, from my point of view, is living inside their heads. In Stealing Elgar, I recall writing and crying at the same time. How ridiculous. But true.


message 8: by Kath (new)

Kath Middleton | 25093 comments I can believe that about Stealing Elgar, Andy. There are characters in there who seem like out and out villains but as Jud said, there are reasons they have turned out like that. You write with a great deal of humanity and understanding. It wouldn't surprise me if someone who has seen what you've seen became very jaded with the human race but you aren't. You care about people and it shows.


message 9: by Andrew (new)

Andrew Barrett | 1612 comments I'm a softy, Ignite. I particularly hate crime against old people and of course, youngsters too. But when an old guy who has nothing, who has fought in the war, has lost what little cash he had to some low life, it breaks my heart.

I emptied my wallet for an old guy once who had every penny taken and couldn't even afford the bus fare into town. They even took his bus pass. That kind of thing enrages me - we owe these people so much and they are shown the least respect. I shall never forget the old guy - he reminded me so much of my dad.

So I suppose I have become jaded to some walks of life. Can't help it, and maybe that comes across in the writing.

As far as writing villains goes; well, everyone has people in their lives who they must measure themselves against, and if their role model was a rotter, chances are they'll become one too, adopting the values of certain groups in society, values on money, property, moral values, etc..

So, it's psychology that creates the person, and it's psychology I use (on a very amateur level) to create the character.

It's no use, as you say Jud, having someone being bad for bad's sake, or cops who are emotionally stunted - that's lazy writing that is good enough for secondary or tertiary characters, but for the chap who's leading the show, not good enough at all; something must have driven him to act as he does, and if you don't bring those reasons out in the story somewhere - anywhere, but without being melodramatic (and steering clear of cliché if possible), then you've invented a cardboard man.


message 10: by Andrew (new)

Andrew Barrett | 1612 comments Oh, and Jud, I just noticed that this a discussion with spoilers, so you can mention Chris by name :)


message 11: by Kath (new)

Kath Middleton | 25093 comments "I emptied my wallet for an old guy..."
Good karma should come your way for that Andy. So many would have walked by said, 'Poor old bloke,' and gone their way.


message 12: by Kath (new)

Kath Middleton | 25093 comments I just want to say that I gave this a 5* review. If it hadn't been as good as it is, I wouldn't have gone on to read the others 2 in the trilogy - and what a treat I'd have missed there.


message 13: by Andrew (new)

Andrew Barrett | 1612 comments Ignite wrote: ""I emptied my wallet for an old guy..."
Good karma should come your way for that Andy. So many would have walked by said, 'Poor old bloke,' and gone their way."


Hey Ignite, I think I've had my fair share of good karma just lately ;)


message 14: by Kath (new)

Kath Middleton | 25093 comments Glad to hear it!


message 15: by Andrew (new)

Andrew Barrett | 1612 comments For my website, I recently wrote a very brief 'The Making of...' for A Long Time Dead; an insight into some of the things you'd never normally encounter unless you're that little person who sits constantly on my right shoulder as I scribble away. Anyway, enough waffle.


The Story of A Long Time Dead. (Includes spoilers).

The crime genre is like no other. I came to this from writing horror, where pretty much anything goes. If you have an awkward story-line when writing horror, you can get around it by inventing some new rule (every ten years the earth goes dark; vampires melt in sunlight…), but when you’re writing crime, the rules you have to follow are solid.
So, when I began writing Dead in ’98, I was faced with two challenges. Keep it real (it’s fiction, I know, and so you have a certain amount of latitude with characters and situations), and abide by the rules of the genre. And I was new to the world of forensic science, having only been in the job a couple of years.
I was learning the ‘craft’ when I wrote the first draft of Dead. I included all manner of things that aren’t there today. For example, I remember receiving a handwritten death threat from a guy locked up in prison. Let me tell you, that is scary – he knows your name and he knows where you work. And he wants to kill you for doing your job. Anyway, I included the death threat as a subplot, something sent from Beaver, who is in jail when we first meet him. But it was one of those ‘truth is stranger than fiction’ moments, and it had to go.
Also, Roger Conniston used to be called Jon Benedict in the original versions. It was only in 2011 that I ditched ‘Jon’ in favour of ‘Roger’. You may find it strange to learn that changing the name to Roger injected a little more dynamism into his character when I began a serious edit. Jon was okay, but he was a little boring, a little wimpish; whereas I’d used the name Roger when writing some scripts with a friend from work, and he was a much wilder creature, much more fun to write.
Incidentally, I took ‘Roger’ from Roger Taylor of Queen (one of my favourite groups), and Conniston from one of the most wonderful lakes in England (yes, I put an extra ‘n’ in there).
I estimate there have been over twenty-five serious revisions made to this book. That is a horrible thing to admit to; it was either utter rubbish when it was first created or it is the best novel ever written right now. Neither statement is true. There are things in it that I don’t like; it reads a little clunky in parts, if I’m honest. But overall, it’s a good read, the characters are strong and the storyline is vibrant with a healthy assortment of subplots all coalescing at the right moment. So it’s good, but it’s not as good as the later books; and that’s how it should be. The longer you do something for, the better you’ll become.
This is where people speak of finding their ‘voice’ or their style. And I always thought that was a load of rubbish until it happened to me.


message 16: by Kath (new)

Kath Middleton | 25093 comments Interesting to note that when you changed a character's name his personality became edgier, more sparky, punchy. What a task we set ourselves choosing our children's names!


message 17: by Jud (last edited Sep 18, 2012 12:58AM) (new)

Jud (judibud) | 18543 comments Funny how a name can change your perception of a character


message 18: by Andrew (new)

Andrew Barrett | 1612 comments Ignite wrote: "Interesting to note that when you changed a character's name his personality became edgier, more sparky, punchy. What a task we set ourselves choosing our children's names!"

You are so right, Ignite - probably more a burden than an honour. But a name is more than just a handle, don't you think. How would you feel about Brad Pitt if he was called (thinking of a name here while trying avoid upsetting people, erm...) Snodgrass McThrobbottom (phew, should be safe with that one!)?

Indeed, Jud. How frightened of Frankenstein would you be if he were called Snodgrass? Ahaha, imagine the film titles.


message 19: by Andrew (new)

Andrew Barrett | 1612 comments In other news... my IT chap (Steve) has modified my website to include more menus attached to each of the books which gives extra info on The Making Of.

Also, we now have our very own merchandise section - check out the Kindle covers.

Woo hoo!

Oh, and a new blog entry.


message 20: by Kath (new)

Kath | 1965 comments hi all, i think i may be shot for posting this but i really didnt get on with this book at all. for me the frequent detail regarding the soco procedures really distracted me away from the story. i do realise that it is a personal thing and in no way a reflection on andy or his writing cos so many others have singled this out as part of the reason they loved the book. for me, if i want to read that much detail, i'll buy a technical manual. if i am reading fiction, i only need enough detail to help me understand the story and anything more is too much. i think this is due in the main to my concentration issues.
that said, can anyone tell me if the other 2 books have the same level / amount of that kind of detail, cos i did enjoy the story and would like to read the other books but not if they are like this first...


message 21: by Kath (new)

Kath Middleton | 25093 comments I didn't feel they had the same amount of detail Kath, because it had been used (I felt?) to set the scene and help the reader understand what was happening in the first book of a series. The later two were less on the 'how to' side and more on the 'what happened side. I found it helpful but I can understand how someone else might not - if we all loved the same books there'd be no need for reviews and the star system!

On a completely different tack, I was very saddened by the deaths of the two policewomen yesterday. Partly becasue I'm from Manchester and I know where it happened but partly because it's people doing a job, not especially well paid, for our protection. That apllies to people like Andy too.
Take care, young man.


message 22: by Andrew (last edited Sep 19, 2012 02:27AM) (new)

Andrew Barrett | 1612 comments Hi Kath,

Sorry to hear you didn't really take to A Long Time Dead. I realise it may not be everyone's cuppa - and I wouldn't dream of shooting you for having an opinion :)

My take on the following two books is this: there are some aspects of forensic work, yes; but these books are a lot bigger than Dead (so the sprinkling of forensic work is father scattered), and they tend to concentrate more on action and comradeship and loyalty. That said, our hero works in the forensic department so he is obliged to find proof for his master and for the reader. I would say with Elgar in particular, if you're not keen on scene examinations, once you get past the shooting scene in Aberford, you should have no problems with the rest of the story.

Thanks for your interest, Kath, and for taking the time to post.


message 23: by Andrew (new)

Andrew Barrett | 1612 comments Ignite wrote: "I didn't feel they had the same amount of detail Kath, because it had been used (I felt?) to set the scene and help the reader understand what was happening in the first book of a series. The late..."

Yes, it's a very sad state of affairs when anyone is killed like this, but especially so, I think, when it's someone helping us to feel safe in our own communities.

I'm trying to stay safe too, Ignite, thank you.


message 24: by Kath (new)

Kath | 1965 comments thanks for taking my comments well - as i tried to stress - it is me that didn't suit the book...

but from what you both say about the other two, i am more than willing to give them a crack - especially as i did enjoy the story/characters/style in the first book...


message 25: by Andrew (new)

Andrew Barrett | 1612 comments Thanks, Kath.

I sincerely hope you enjoy them. Elgar looks at the same problem from two viewpoints - one is Roger's and the other is gang-boss, Hades. So, you can imagine there will be fireworks aplenty.

No More Tears delves very deeply into Roger's character, at his take on friendship and loyalty. But still, the bad guys are never far away.

If you do get round to reading them, I'd love to hear your comments, good or bad. And thanks again for posting.


message 26: by Kath (new)

Kath | 1965 comments see, that's the beauty about groups like this. if i'd kept quiet then i wouldn't have known that the other two are not as "techy" as the first and thus, could be more to my personal taste...


message 27: by Kath (last edited Sep 19, 2012 03:41AM) (new)

Kath Middleton | 25093 comments Whahey!! (Cor, Ignite using two exclamation marks - Oh happy day!)

I've just been to Andrew's website and bought a Dead Trilogy mug! I'm giddy as a kipper, as our man would say!

Edit - www.andrew-barrett.co.uk


message 28: by Andrew (last edited Sep 19, 2012 03:48AM) (new)

Andrew Barrett | 1612 comments Brilliant, Ignite!

I have one of them too, and do you know, the coffee tastes so much better! No, it's true!


message 29: by Tim (new)

Tim | 9478 comments Are they next-door's-cat proof?


message 30: by Andrew (new)

Andrew Barrett | 1612 comments Good point, Tim. Though I doubt it.

I wonder if I can get a personalised cat deterrent for your kitchen. Still, I don't fancy spray-painting my name across a Rottweiler.


message 31: by Kath (new)

Kath Middleton | 25093 comments A Long Time Rott(en)?


message 32: by Lynne (Tigger's Mum) (last edited Sep 19, 2012 07:50AM) (new)

Lynne (Tigger's Mum) | 5862 comments I really enjoyed the book so much so I bought the 2 others this morning. After having a bad summer for not being able to concentrate I was so pleased to find a book that I really wanted to know how it ended. I didn't want to put it down at bedtime. The twists were good. I half expected Chris to be shot when visiting Yvonne. I must have downloaded my copy a while ago and yesterday on reading this thread I saw that Roger was originally named Jon. In my copy when Shelby is looking for Paul he grabs Jon by the shirt but lifts Roger out of the seat, Roger also drops back down. So sorry to nitpick but I still rate it 5* I do appreciate it when technical details are accurate and the characters and the storyline is so good. Thank you Andrew for a good read.


message 33: by Andrew (new)

Andrew Barrett | 1612 comments Ahahaha, Lynne that must have made you blink twice! So sorry about that; I feel quite embarrassed that some of the name changes didn't quite make it through in the first revisit I made to the book. In one of the first versions of the book, Beaver is shot in the kitchen (sounds painful!), and then in a later version, Chris is shot. And in the latest version... wait for it... no one is shot in the kitchen.

I think you may have an old version, as you say. Some things, just details, have changed in the newer release, but it shouldn't detract from your enjoyment of Elgar or Tears.

Anyway, thank you very much for posting this, Lynne, and I hope you get wrapped up in Elgar.


message 34: by Tim (new)

Tim | 9478 comments Thought for a moment there you were going to say Chris is shot in the Beaver.... Ho hum!


message 35: by Kath (new)

Kath Middleton | 25093 comments Tim, you're grounded. Go to your room and think about what you've done!

(Crossed my mind too - terrible old bat aren't I?)

Lynne, you could ask Amazon Customer Services - by email - for an updated copy. Give details of the author and book reference and they're happy to send them out. Takes an hour or so and switch on your wifi, go to sinc and check for items on the home screen menu and Bob's your aunty's spouse!


message 36: by Tim (new)

Tim | 9478 comments It was thinking about it got me in trouble in the first place...


message 37: by Philip (sarah) (new)

Philip (sarah) Willis | 5174 comments Re updates. I discovered recently if you go to Manage your Kindle page,click on the dropdown menu in the 'view' window one of the options is 'updates available'.When I clicked I had 10 to update(though I don't recall this being one of them)
I don't know if it perhaps only updates the books on the device and not in the archive which would account for the omission.


Lynne (Tigger's Mum) | 5862 comments Thanks for the comments re other updates, Sarah, and Ignite, I shall have a look at those but as I read it and enjoyed it I shan't be too bothered about it. Being married to a "Roger" it just made me laugh a bit to think his name might be a bit more dynamic than a Jon. I shall look at him in a totally new light now.


Lynne (Tigger's Mum) | 5862 comments Thank you for that information about updates I would never have found that on my own, I"ve just updated about 10 from my TBR list.


Kay (Golden Girl) | 2286 comments Thanks Sarah for update info. ,have had to update quite a few books.


message 41: by Kath (new)

Kath Middleton | 25093 comments You've mentioned (probably on your author thread?) that you have another SOCO book/books due out soonish. You've also mentioned computer problems which I would imagine hold these things up. Could you give an estimate of when you think the new work might be available?
(Not that I'm keen, or anything!)


message 42: by Andrew (new)

Andrew Barrett | 1612 comments Ah yes, there will be another update within the next week or ten days for A Long Time Dead too, as I have found another error or two. And I don't like errors :(

Ignite, yes I do have a new trilogy coming to an Amazon near you!

It's called The Third Rule and it features, of course, a SOCO called Eddie Collins - he's not a chap you want to mess with too much, and especially not at this time in his life, when his son, Sammy, has just been killed by a hit and run driver.

Interestingly, there are one or two other protagonists within the (projected) 800+ pages: Mick Lyndon is an investigative reporter who tries to uncover the secret and very illegal lives of those in power who have created a corrupt beast called The Rules. These too, I suppose, feature as a protagonist in their own right, but should (I sincerely hope) provide a talking point, or at the very least, a thinking point.

Mick and Eddie make a formidable team, but life for them never seems to pan out how they'd like - the government, in the form of Sir George Deacon, fights back and the only rule he understands is 'there are no rules'.

And finally, there is a burglar in the story who happens to be quite a gifted artist. His name is Christian Ledger; and he's there to illustrate how badly things can go wrong, and how rules can be manipulated when greed comes into play. I wrote his story, and instantly felt sorry for him.

As I said, it's a lengthy book, but it's given me the room to play with all these and many more characters to fullest. It is loaded with action, packed with the deepest emotions, contains some gruesome scenes too, and explores how people deal with challenges.

And yes, you're quite right about the computer problems too. I'm hoping to solve these very shortly though thanks to the help of my very closest friends. I still need to design book covers, and have asked for the help of a new friend to prep the blurb.

Timescale? Fingers crossed, middle of October; sooner if things go smoothly.


message 43: by Kath (new)

Kath Middleton | 25093 comments Oh, I remember where I read about that - your blog!


message 44: by Kath (new)

Kath Middleton | 25093 comments Message from Andy - his laptop has finally turned its toes up and the new desktop his mate is building needs another part. He hopes to be back early next week at the latest.


Patti (baconater) (goldengreene) | 61757 comments Aw poor Andy. He must be feeling as though he's missing a limb!

Thanks for passing on the message,Ignite. You know how I worry.


message 46: by Kath (new)

Kath Middleton | 25093 comments Well, since the author isn't here to embarrass, I thought I might say why I got excited when I first picked this book up.

The first sentence is - Someone banged on the front door.
The second is - It boomed in the naked hall.

Well, that was it - he's had me in his pocket since the second sentence! Most people, me included, would have said, It echoed in the empty hall, or something.

Throughout his work, there are numerous examples like this, where he uses unexpected expressions which just set me off. I'm a sucker for language when it's used creatively.


message 47: by Kath (new)

Kath Middleton | 25093 comments Whoo- Andy's back on-line. Mind you, he's now wallpapering but I hope we'll hear from him again before the month is up.


message 48: by Andrew (new)

Andrew Barrett | 1612 comments Hello, I'm back. Wallpapering done now, Ignite, just the painting to do. If I had beer, I'd cry into it.

It was awful, Patti. It was like being chained up in a dusty attic miles from anywhere. Actually, that's my idea of fun!

Oh wow, Ignite; thank you for appreciating the second sentence :) but I cannot take any credit for it. I merely used the keyboard to write the words my useless grey mush churned out. I'm far too sensible to write words such as 'boomed' and (especially) 'naked' - hush my mouth!


message 49: by Kath (new)

Kath Middleton | 25093 comments It's because you can do it so naturally and without artifice that you are such a good writist!

PS, it wasn't just the second sentence I appreciated!


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