Partner in Crime – Rob McCarthy

Rob McCarthy Dr Harry Kent Handful Ashes

On publication of the second Dr Harry Kent novel, A HANDFUL OF ASHES, Rob McCarthy picks a Partner in Crime for Harry

Posted on March 22, 2017 in Partner in Crime
Tags: Author Content

When the great team at Crime Files asked me to think about who I would partner my character Harry Kent with, were their fictional universes to meet, I was initially at a loss – I mean, who would put up with him? But after some thought, I found a suitable candidate – Mo Hayder’s irascible detective inspector, Jack Caffery. 

I’ve been massively inspired and influenced by Hayder’s series, in particular the first two, Birdman and The Treatment, where Caffery investigates heinous crimes on the streets of South London prior to his relocation to Bristol. One scene from Birdman was particularly creepy for me, as it was set in the very same university dissecting room where I happened to be cutting up cadavers. Jack is scientific, intelligent, and determined, qualities I am sure that Harry, a police surgeon and A&E doctor, would respect, even if I suspect they’d initially clash. 

I’d picture Harry and Jack as something of a True Detective-style partnership, just as stormy as it would be successful. There’d be plenty of fighting, and if either of them ever managed to hold down a relationship long enough to get married, one of them would almost definitely sleep with the other’s wife. A scene from Hayder’s Gone, in which Caffery comes close to physically assaulting an air ambulance doctor who’s preventing him from interrogating a critically injured suspect, comes to mind – I can easily see Harry in that jumpsuit, fighting on behalf of his patient, whatever they might have done.

But what they share is a vital stubbornness, an unwillingness to compromise if they feel someone is getting in the way of the right thing to do, and an ability to cross moral and ethical boundaries in the pursuit of what they see as justice. Working to the same end, they would be unstoppable. Both men share a propensity for obsession, be it Caffery’s at times ethereal relationship with The Walking Man, a nomadic figure with a questionable past, or Harry’s fixation on an unidentified victim of the London riots, a girl they call Zara due to the label of the shorts she was found in. I’m sure that they would quickly come to understand a sort of kindred spirit, either over a glass of Caffery’s treasured Glenmorangie, or in a hospital mortuary in the dead of night, kept awake by one of Harry’s self-prescribed wakefulness aids. 

I can’t be sure that Jack Caffery and Harry Kent would be the best of friends, were they ever to meet. But if they were working together, I can say for sure that I wouldn’t want to get in their way.

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