About Me

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Melfort, Saskatchewan, Canada
I am a lawyer in Melfort, Saskatchewan, Canada who enjoys reading, especially mysteries. Since 2000 I have been writing personal book reviews. This blog includes my reviews, information on and interviews with authors and descriptions of mystery bookstores I have visited. I strive to review all Saskatchewan mysteries. Other Canadian mysteries are listed under the Rest of Canada. As a lawyer I am always interested in legal mysteries. I have a separate page for legal mysteries. Occasionally my reviews of legal mysteries comment on the legal reality of the mystery. You can follow the progression of my favourite authors with up to 15 reviews. Each year I select my favourites in "Bill's Best of ----". As well as current reviews I am posting reviews from 2000 to 2011. Below my most recent couple of posts are the posts of Saskatchewan mysteries I have reviewed alphabetically by author. If you only want a sentence or two description of the book and my recommendation when deciding whether to read the book look at the bold portion of the review. If you would like to email me the link to my email is on the profile page.

Friday, March 30, 2018

All the Lonely People by Martin Edwards

All the Lonely People by Martin Edwards (1991) – Harry Devlin is a depressed solicitor in a depressed Liverpool. Life and work has been grinding on since his wife, Liz, left him two years ago for Mick Coghlan, a hard man with money.

Love is hard to explain. Why Harry still loves Liz has no logic to the love. Mercurial in nature, impulsive to the core and completely self-absorbed Liz is enchanting but she casually breaks the hearts of man after man.

Harry finds her in his apartment one night after work. She has rightly assumed he will be glad to take her in for whatever time she will deign to spend with him.

His brief dream of reconciliation is dashed by her announcement that while she has left Coghlan there is a new well-to-do man with whom she will be living.

While Harry is dealing with his battered emotions Liz goes out for the evening and is brutally murdered.

Liz’s hold on Harry’s emotions is as strong after death as it was in life. He must find out who has killed her. Neither friends nor co-workers nor the police can sway him from his quest to solve the murder.

When he applies his lawyerly mind to his actions Harry sees there is no sense to his quest but sober analysis is outweighed by emotion. 

The police see him as a primary suspect. What reasonable person would not be driven to anger by Liz’s easy disregard for Harry’s emotions and confident expectation he will readily serve her needs. They find his explanations of continuing love unconvincing.

As Harry delves into Liz’s life he finds assignations and dalliances that provide multiple suspects.

Yet Harry is fixated on Coghlan being the murderer or financing the murder. Contrary to all his legal experience he loses objectivity in assessing the evidence. His tunnel vision draws him towards Coghlan as directly as the police tunnel is focused on him. Both Harry and the police are caught up in proving suspicion rather than determining facts. 

While Harry is an interesting character and Liz a compelling victim I found myself depressed reading the book. I could not find a character who is looking ahead in their life. All are caught up in past and current despair. 

The Liverpool of All the Lonely People is a decaying, even decrepit, city with no apparent future. It is grim in appearance and long past the days of its glory as a leading port for England.

All the Lonely People is fine noir but I realize I am not fond of noir. The book is well written and I appreciate its characterization by the publisher as a crime classic. I may read another to see if Harry can raise himself from depression. He is a good man. He does frustrate me as a lawyer.


  1. Thanks very much for your candor on this one, Bill. I honestly liked it better than you did. Still, I do know what you mean about Harry Devlin. He is a depressed, unhappy person. I don't, of course, have your legal insights, so I can't speak about Devlin's professional work. But that aside, I did appreciate the novel's sense of atmosphere.

  2. Margot: Thanks for the comment. I am glad you enjoyed the book. I agree Edwards effectively creates a suitably noir atmosphere.

  3. I'm sorry you didn't enjoy this book more! Liverpool is my home city (I grew up there, and worked there as an adult, though now live some way away) and has gone through some very bad times: it was indeed a very sad and decrepit place when Martin wrote the book. But - I am happy to say it has since undergone considerable regeneration, and is a very cheerful and beautiful place these days. The waterfront, which was a graveyard of lost industry and trade, is now a beautiful sweep of glorious buildings. You should come and visit it some time!

    1. Moira: Thanks for the comment. I did not know that you were from Liverpool. I am glad the city has been able to turn itself into an inviting place. I will be on a cruise shortly that has stops at ports in Wales and England. Unfortunately, Liverpool is not one of them. I hope I can get to Liverpool on another trip.

  4. I don't remember finding this a depressing read. I mostly noticed how obsessed Harry was with his estranged wife. But that kind of separation can cause depression; my first marriage ended in divorce and I was depressed for over a year. I have found books 3 and 4 in this series but now I will have to find Suspicious Minds and see how things go for Harry.

    1. TracyK: Thanks for the comment. I am sorry you went through tough times when you divorced. I should look for the second in the series to see if I was too pessimistic about Harry.