Sherlock, Manchester Private Detectives and the difference between fiction and reality

So the smash hit Sherlock with Benedict Cumberbatch is back on the air, and the world has fallen in love with private detectives again. Even the World Service has got in on the act with a discussion of private detectives around the world – but the reality of life as a private investigator is both more down-to-earth and sometimes considerably more dangerous, than a TV series might suggest.

For example, a Manila-based private investigator, Ken Gamble, has allegedly been the subject of a hit contract! The person supposedly hiring the assassin is none other Peter Foster, the former associate of Cherie Blair. Apparently the private detective has located huge sums of money relating to Foster’s latest dubious scheme, a failed online gambling venture that apparently went south with Foster abstracting nearly 6 million Australian dollars from the business just before it collapsed. The contract was for around £39,000 for a Philippines based hitman to shoot Mr Gamble with a £49,000 bonus if the assassination took place before Christmas, which fortunately for Mr Gamble, it didn’t.

Of course it’s not an everyday occurrence for a London private detective to find him or herself in the firing line, but it’s relatively common, particularly in cases of industrial espionage or corporate investigation for those being investigated to realise somebody is ‘on to them’ and seek to find the investigator and threaten him. In such situations a private detective must be able to look after themselves and remain professional regardless of the situation.

This is why effective private detectives are extremely careful to ensure all their work is admissible evidence – many private investigations are for clients who hope to get enough material to lead to a criminal trial and that means having a perfect evidence chain, a clear understanding of judicial processes and a good reputation with law enforcement personnel. Our Corporate Investigations team have an excellent track record in securing evidence against business criminals and so far, nobody has taken out an assassination contract against any of them!

Does Val McDermid need a Manchester Private Detective?

Our Manchester office has been watching another ‘fiction meets fact’ detective case with some interest the past couple of weeks. Best-selling author Va McDermid has been the victim of a burglary … and because she was in the USA when it happened, the whole story unfolded on Twitter! McDermid lives Greater Manchester and many of her books – including the tales of private investigator Kate Brannigan – are based there. So when her house was broken into and her Audi stolen from the drive, it was almost like the beginning of one of her grisly novels. As she tweeted, “Luckily we seem to have had relatively neat burglars. One broken window, nothing trashed, just messy.”

The Manchester team have not yet been asked to step in and help Ms McDermid track down the thieves, but we’re big fans of her work and would always be happy to assist. Just as long as we don’t end up being like her characters, many of whom suffer some pretty gruesome deaths!