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Book releases


When you open Dr. Marie Cassidy’s new book, ‘Beyond the Tape’, you can feel her look you up and down, assessing whether or not you can handle what she is about to tell you. With a discerning, frank and removed gaze, she sizes you up – and decides to tell you anyway.

‘Forensic pathology is a problem-solving speciality, and this is the greatest problem to be solved; murder or not. No prizes for a correct answer. The possibility of being struck off the medical register for a wrong one. No pressure, then!’

With over thirty years as a forensic pathologist under her belt, Dr. Cassidy has more than a few stories to tell. The book starts with a bang, landing us in her early years of training as a doctor, and finding herself unsuited to the wards of the living, preferring the far less reputable (at the time) forensic pathologist mortuary. We leap from story to story, while she barely pauses for breath to contextualise us, setting the fast-paced tone that is laced with a dark and dry wit. She occasionally glances back at us, to check if we’re still there (we are, we’re just clutching our stomachs and hanging on to every word) before plunging back in.

Her voice doesn’t revel in the scenes she reveals to us, gory as they are. It is not a murder mystery documentary, nor a true crime show, glorying in the horrifying details. She strives to keep the tone matter of fact throughout, remaining removed, while lifting the curtain on a part of life that we’re morbidly curious about, but can hardly stand to look at. The cast of the dead rise through the years of her memories, reanimated in their final dark moments through her analysis.

‘The post-mortem is a snapshot of the last moments of life. It tells you the state of the organs at the time of death. Like looking at a photograph taken on a night out showing happy faces, but not the events leading up to it, or what happened next.’

She takes us to the dark underside of life and shines a light on the intricate processes involved in a suspicious and complex death. This is no courtroom drama – this is the part of the show that you don’t see; The delicacy required in the removal of the body, the dissections that discover or rule out the cause of death. We can almost smell the sharp sterility of her instruments as she lifts the veil on death and somberly beckons you forward to view.

This colourful and at times, suffocating account (fair warning), walks through the different kinds of death Cassidy has encountered over the years. The burned and battered bodies, the sadistic sexual assaults, the suspicious and strange strangulations – this is not a book for the faint of heart.

And yet, at its core, is Cassidy, approaching every death with an almost holistic approach. Her job is monstrous, and she recalls even prostitutes telling her they would hate to do it. And with the nightmarish mounds of bodies that builds up as her career unfolds, we have to agree. And yet, with each death, Cassidy gives each person their due dignity and is compassionate in her approach. There is an incredible science, creativity and tenacity that goes into the process of identification alone, never mind actual identification of the cause of death.

To her, the job is about bringing dignity to a horrific death, closure to the family, and seeing justice done for the deceased. While she is matter of fact about death itself, she is softer, and empathetic when discussing the people behind the deaths. One would have to appear removed, would have to develop coping mechanisms when surrounded with the evidence of how awful humans can be every day. She gives the victims the dignity of being known, not just as a murdered body, but as a person who had their life unfairly and unexpectedly ended. To her, the least she can give someone is the ‘how’ of their death. It’s the police that uncover the ‘why’.

‘There is never a happy ending in these circumstances, but at least a name had been restored to its rightful owner and the deceased returned to her family.’

A study of pathology and indeed, of death, Cassidy performs technical examinations before our eyes. He subject shifts every few pages, a new way to die, to be harmed, to look like an innocent death, but really have a suspicious underlying cause. These examinations begin broadly and slowly focus in more and more narrowly, like a microscope, until we get to the minute detail in her ‘body reading’ that pinpoints how this victim came to be.

Though Cassidy deals in death she holds people's lives in her hands. Both the living and dead. Their future identities, their future plans, whether they're guilty or not, all hinge upon her verdict. Will someone become a murderer upon her verdict? Or rather, a confirmed, and known murderer? Will the victim's widow grieve the rest of their days, thinking there might have been something they could have done, come home earlier, called to check in? The lives affected by her examinations of death are numerous.

‘The marks and injuries on a body speak as loudly to me as a voice. Like translating French, or sign language, I have been trained to interpret it. And I may have to think carefully about what I have seen and recorded before I can be sure that I’ve ‘listened’ to the deceased and understood exactly what happened to them.’

There are hopeful notes in this dark account. Cassidy herself, is one of them, as she overhauls the system, improving and reforming as she goes, to ensure justice is being carried out to the highest degree. That dignity and closure is given to the victims and their families. She details some of the experiments she is carrying out to bring forward the process of pathology, modernising it, making it more efficient, and more accurate all the time. And while this is not a book for those with a squeamish stomach (read: me), it is an utterly fascinating and eye-opening report on a world that is thankfully foreign to many of us. Cassidy opens the door to death and allows us to peek inside, if only for a few pages.



The book Angels With Blue Faces, which murdered journalist Lyra McKee was due to hold in her hand just weeks after her death, will be released at the end of June.

A result of five year’s investigation by Lyra into the IRA killing of MP, Robert Bradford, in 1981, the long awaited book is now available on pre-release from Belfast based publishers Excalibur Press.

Robert Bradford’s death, and that of 29-year-old Ken Campbell has been the subject of speculation and conspiracy theories surrounding allegations that the MP was about to expose sordid details about who was involved in the Kincora.

Lyra interviewed Bradford’s friends, colleagues, and acquaintances as well as a number of other sources – and reveals how the MP’s killing might have been stopped by intelligence services.

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Trawling through public records and documents she had procured during her search for the truth Lyra spent a majority of her journalistic career in the pursuit of answers. In many cases she came up against more questions.

In January 2018 Lyra struck a deal with indie publishers Excalibur Press to finally put her work into print. She then set about researching the book further and spent time editing and re-editing to her final draft.

Tina Calder, owner of Excalibur Press said she was “proud” they were now in a position to release the book as part of Lyra’s legacy.


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“It is with great sadness but immense honour that we are now able to reveal the cover of Angels With Blue Faces.

“Just a short time before her death Lyra had approved her cover and sent the final changes for her book, she should have been holding it in her hand at the end of April.

“Lyra's investigation into the death of Northern Ireland MP Robert Bradford was a passion project for her, for years it became her obsession as she followed lead after lead in the pursuit of the truth.

“We were absolutely delighted when Lyra agreed to entrust Excalibur Press with this book and were devastated to learn of her death just days before the book should have been going on pre-release and less than a month before she would have held it in her hand.

“All pre-orders will be received at the end of June. Those who order will also be invited to the official launch of the book, the date of which will be announced soon.”

As per Lyra’s wishes prior to her death, her own proceeds of the book will be donated to the organisation Paper Trail – a social enterprise which offers specialised and targeted legacy archive research to the legal profession.

Tina added: “Excalibur Press will be donating our commission to our not-for-profit entity The Merlin Project where we hope to run a series of events, workshops and potentially courses for young reporters wanting to learn some of the practical aspects of the industry.

“Taking inspiration from Lyra and her talent, we hope to teach young journalists the art of research as well as interview techniques and more.”

Lyra’s sister Nichola McKee Corner said she was proud to see Lyra’s book about to be published.

“Lyra put years into this project,” she said. “It is so sad that she never got to hold the final copy of Angels With Blue Faces in her hand.

“I am just so proud of you now as I was of you every day or your life."

Angels With Blue Faces can be pre-ordered priced £9.99 are available from excaliburpress.co.uk/lyra-mckee