Ex-priest DI Frank Farrell has returned to his roots in Dumfries, only to be landed with a disturbing murder case. Even worse, Farrell knows the victim: Father Boyd, the man who forced him out of the priesthood fifteen years earlier.
With no leads, Farrell must delve into the old priest’s past, one that is inextricably linked with his own. But his attention is diverted when twin boys go missing. One twin is recovered in an abandoned church, unharmed. But where is his brother?
As Farrell investigates the two cases he can’t help but feel targeted. Is someone playing a sinister game, or is he seeing patterns that don’t exist? Either way, it’s a game Farrell needs to win before he loses his grip on his sanity, or someone else turns up dead.
Welcome to my stop on the Dead Man’s Prayer blog tour. I was over the moon to be asked to participate in Jackie’s tour as DMP sounds a stonking read! I can’t wait to get started on this one, once the #terrifyingTBR becomes a smidge less terrifying!
I am delighted to have a guest post by Jackie Baldwin to share with you today. When Jackie suggested writing about what drives her to explore crime, I was thrilled. It’s a brilliant post, very suited to damppebbles and I love it. Over to Jackie…
What Drives Me To Explore Crime?
As a child I attended our local Convent School and developed the perception that there was good and there was evil. The world was cast in these certainties. There was no room in this scheme of things for much in the way of grey areas.
As a newly qualified solicitor I ended up practising criminal law. In Scotland, if you are in private practice you are always acting for the defence as all cases are prosecuted by the Crown. Almost immediately, my certainties crumbled. I discovered that, for the most part, criminals were weak, inadequate individuals who made kneejerk decisions in difficult circumstances, rather than intrinsically bad people. Many of them were likeable and desired to change but found it difficult to break free of old patterns of behaviour. As Duty Solicitor I would be locked in a cell with clients who had allegedly committed a wide spectrum of crimes but strangely, I never felt threatened. I strongly believe that you can’t view a criminal without also viewing the context within which they operate. Many of my clients had traumatic upbringings with one or more abusive parents. Most of them had serious substance abuse issues. In fact, I would go so far as to say that the majority of low level crime is due to people trying to scrape money together for a fix or becoming aggressive and losing the rag when on drink or drugs. I believe that many of the addicted people I came across were effectively self-medicating for anxiety and depression. Of course, there were exceptions. Once every few years I would come across someone who made the hairs on the back of my neck prickle a warning and knew that I was in the presence of something dark and ugly.
As a writer I feel that crime is a fertile area to explore. Committing a murder is breaking a taboo. It tears down the gossamer web of society we have wrapped round ourselves to feel safe. This can only be restored when the murderer has been caught and punished. In the old days when detection rates were low and punishment functioned as both deterrent and retribution there was the public spectacle of the hanging. Then, as detection rates increased and society evolved, punishment retreated behind high walls and more complex needs had to be balanced such as retribution, deterrence and rehabilitation.
In that sense, every crime novel is like a quest. Every resolution brings a feeling of release. I am particularly drawn to the psychology of crime in fiction. In real life crime can be swift and brutal, apparently random and motiveless at times. In fiction, I like to understand the internal logic of the villain. People are complex. Often our motivations are buried deep in our unconscious mind and hidden from us. One psyche can consist of many different parts. In damaged people these parts can be in opposition to each other, fighting for supremacy in a subterranean, hidden war, in which the outward explosion of violence can signify a battle lost.
Thanks again, Jackie for this insightful piece. I can’t wait to read Dead Man’s Prayer so look out for a review coming your way soon (hopefully)!
Dead Man’s Prayer by Jackie Baldwin was published in the UK by Killer Reads on 2nd September 2016 and is available in eBook format (paperback to be published in December 2016) | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Goodreads | KillerReads |
Jackie Baldwin is a Scottish crime writer and former criminal lawyer. Dead Man’s Prayer is her debut novel.