Friday, March 16, 2012

Character Interview - Helen Lavery from An Unfamiliar Murder

ARH – I’d like to welcome Detective Chief Inspector Helen Lavery to Lilac Wolf and Stuff. Thank you Helen for joining us.

HL – Thank you for inviting me. I’m happy to be here.

ARH – Could you tell us a little about yourself?

HL – A law graduate, I joined the police force just over ten years ago and it was always my intention to rise through the ranks and lead the Murder Investigation Team. It is challenging balancing the roles of single parenting teenage sons with a demanding job, but I love both my roles and wouldn’t change them for the world.

ARH – When did you decide to become an officer of the law? And what inspired that decision?

HL – My father was a police officer and his drive to keep the public safe motivated him to lead the Homicide and Major Incident Team for almost 15 years before his retirement. He was passionate about removing the ‘really bad people’ from our streets and employed whatever tactics necessary to make that happen. I inherited that passion and drive. It’s all I ever wanted to do, from a young age, and my real chance to make a real difference.

ARH – You have achieved the title of Detective Chief Inspector…do you know what the American equivalent of your position would be?

HL – The American ranking system is quite different. Unlike the UK, they do not have standardized rank systems across the country although I have attended conferences in the US with Captains who appear to do a similar job to myself.

ARH – What is the biggest challenge of your current position?

HL – Leading a murder investigation requires the ability to remain calm under incredible pressure, and make the right judgment call at the right moment. I am accountable for every decision I make, which can each have serious consequences.

It’s very much a balancing act of keeping the public safe and retaining their confidence in the police service by identifying and locating the offender at the earliest possibility, and satisfying the internal politics and resourcing imposed by senior staff, whilst keeping my team motivated.

ARH – Being a detective is very time consuming, how do you balance work and family?

HL - Leading a murder investigation can be the most responsible, but also the most rewarding job in the police force. It is always a race against time, to catch the perpetrator whilst minimizing the risk to the public. So, in the early stages of an investigation, ‘the golden hours’, I spend most of my time at work.

I am very fortunate to have the help of my Mother, the boys’ Grandmother, who lives in and acts as Nanny come housekeeper in times of need.

When I am not up against the clock, I make sure I spend plenty of quality time with my boys, which usually means ferrying them around to their interests and standing in the corner of a cold football pitch, freezing my socks off whilst they play!

ARH – I must admit being wrongly accused is one of my biggest fears, what advice would you give anyone reading this if they found themselves in that situation?

HL – Be honest. The police are looking for the truth. They are not looking to convict you of something you didn’t do because that leaves a nasty offender on the streets. Tell the truth and you have nothing to be fearful of.

ARH - Thank you so much for joining us today, we wish you continued success in your career.

That was so much fun! I have tingles. Remember playing make-believe as a child? This is as close as we get as adults...if you aren't acting.

I almost forgot - my other new favorite word from reading An Unfamiliar Murder - "whilst" - why don't we use that word? We just use plain, old, boring "while." I suggest everyone bring "whilst" into their vocabulary, let's take it back!

And yes, I know that is Diana Maria Riva, who plays Lt. Ana Ruiz on the Good Guys. As I read the story, she kept popping up whenever I read Helen. I think it's because she plays such a strong, confident lieutenant on the show and that's who Helen is.

I really want to thank author Jane Isaac for playing along. You can purchase her book An Unfamiliar Murder at Amazon and Barnes & Noble.


  1. I didn't realized the the UK police ranks didn't translate to the US. I've learned something, you'd think I would have learned working with cops whilst in the military ;-)

  2. This was a great interview read. I'm usually not into murder mysteries but I'm intrigued now. :)


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