Who is John Kerr?

‘Trusting no one, Kerr concentrated solely on building a cast-iron cover over his team. In less than forty minutes they had emerged with a single coherent account, with times, places, people and events in the right order. When the mud-slinging started, he intended to ensure that his team was shielded by the facts…John Kerr was their number-one guy, the leader who stayed on the plot, bought the grub and always took the hit for them.’ Agent of the State, page 61

The great thing about detective chief inspector John Kerr is that he has survived a long deployment as an undercover operative, so enjoys high credibility. Kerr’s Special Branch team rate him because he has been there and done it. His streak of independence is not career enhancing, and every time I try to promote him the bosses sideline him as a maverick. At each setback Kerr just shrugs his shoulders and cracks on. His motivation is the work, not climbing the greasy pole.

Kerr likes to present himself as an open book, working in his office, the Fishbowl, in full view of everybody. A sociable, friendly guy on the surface, he is actually more complex than most people realise. There’s his integrity, a determination to do the right thing, whatever the cost. But he has no qualms about using deception to get at the truth, unfazed by hubristic politicians, scheming bureaucrats or corrupt police.

Kerr is as happy as any other Londoner with a great job, stylish apartment and his fair share of sex, but will soon be facing more threats. I’m unsure how things are going to turn out for him, and that is not because he is difficult or unpredictable. He looks out for his team, rarely himself, which leaves him vulnerable. And his sense of mission distracts him from the internal politics swirling around the Yard while he is busy on the street.

Bumping into John Kerr in a bar or at a party you might find you had told him more about yourself than you intended. If you met professionally he would probably be calculating whether he could recruit you.