Detective Attorney Olly Jarvis has completed her most demanding assignment to date – an intriguing read that takes us to the ‘moment zero’ – a place in time that connects all cultures and faiths.
His latest book is The Genesis Inquiry, a kind of Dan Brownian yarn, with the burnt-out but ingenious lawyer Ella Blake as the central character.
In the story, Blake accepts a seemingly simple brief: Investigate the mysterious disappearance of an African-American polymath from his rooms at Cambridge University.
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The query quickly becomes the biggest challenge of her life – solving the mystery of Genesis – as she reunites with her alienated daughter and embarks on an exciting journey that takes us from LindIsfarne to the most remote areas of Turkey.
And author Olly, who from her Exchange Chambers, Manchester base is engaged in some of the most high-profile criminal cases in the country, acknowledges that creating the story was also one of the most challenging tasks.
Until his latest book, the 54-year-old has drawn on his particular understanding of the pressures and tensions of life in the English Criminal Court.
His debut novel, Death By Dangerous was longlisted for the CWA 2016 Debut Dagger. He went on to write the acclaimed Jack Kowalski series set in Manchester and starring fictional MEN reporter Jim Smith.
Compared to The Genesis Inquiry, these earlier works were straightforward for the lawyer.
But how does he combine such a demanding role at the top of the criminal justice system with being a crime writer?
“It’s a hell on earth,” he joked. “What I used to do is get up at 5 in the morning and try to do a few hours before work and work on the weekends.
“But with this book, it was so completely absorbing, and the threads were so important that I spent blocks of time writing it. So I had to have very understanding attorneys and instructing lawyers, and I kind of wrote it in chunks. .
“The first draft – this, of course, is not written every day – took me 18 months. And then there were another 18 months of refinement and just re-editing. It’s half the battle, to edit it down.”
The newly released book has already been well received with Stephen Fry describing it as a ‘compulsive crime novel and legal thriller’.
And that praise is in line with how all his works have been received so far.
Olly said, “When someone does a review and says they like the book, there’s just nothing like it.”
But he also added that he has a skin that is thick enough to accept any criticism that may come his way, no matter how unfair it may seem.
He said, “All my jobs are about winning and losing. Thick skin yes. You have to get up in the morning and dust yourself down and move on.”
Olly had ideas for a long time for the book that swam around in his psyche, and it was a trip to Cambridge for his daughter Amber’s interview to a university campus that crystallized his ideas.
He said: “All these teachers were talking about the bigger picture and joining the dots, and suddenly I had a way of bringing it all together.
“My daughter went to Durham eventually, but I was excited and that was when I had my base to connect everything.”
The reader might be forgiven for believing that Olly herself had gone to Cambridge University, such is the vivid picture drawn of the great institution in the book, but no … “I went to a poly in Newcastle,” he laughed.
West Londoner Olly, a son of the famous actor Martin Jarvis and brother of Toby, the composer who wrote the theme for TV’s Love Island, found his way to Manchester in 1993.
It was a city he had never visited before. But he saw an ad as he was looking for his ‘other six student’ on his way to becoming a full-fledged lawyer.
He said: “I went up and they gave me another six and I stayed because I just love Manchester, avoid going on the tube and sitting in traffic jams and I love the people of the north so I stayed.”
But does he ever see himself giving up the law and becoming a full-time novelist?
“I enjoy being a lawyer,” Olly replied.
“I’ve been doing this job for 30 years, and one thing I really wanted to get through with Ella’s character is that we all assume lawyers are these high-flying dynamic people who can take the stress out of trials week after week. for decades.
“But the reality is that it requires its toll mentally and emotionally. It is only in the last few years that the Lawyer has begun to look at the welfare of lawyers and the toll it requires.
“And I would be a liar if I did not admit that it is incredibly challenging. But it is also very rewarding to be a part of the justice machinery in this country that I truly believe in.
“I think we’re pretty much as good as it can get when comparing other legal systems around the world.”
Above all, the Genesis Inquiry shows the passion that the author feels for the experiences that can be drawn from the history of mankind.
Olly concludes: “The only way we can find the right path to go is by learning history lessons. It’s so important to breathe and do this at this critical time, that’s what the book is about. Diversity. “
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