“A dark and gripping crime debut, the first in an exciting new series. Eighteen years ago, DI Frank Farrell turned his back on the church. But when an ex-priest is murdered in his hometown, he has no choice but to delve into his past. Perfect for fans of Stuart MacBride, James Oswald and Val McDermid.
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 eighteen years earlier.
With no leads, Farrell must delve into the old priest’s past, one that is inexorably linked with his own. But his attention is diverted when a pair of twin boys go missing. The Dumfries police force recover one 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.”
Back in September I was thrilled to be part of Jackie Baldwin’s Dead Man’s Prayer blog tour. Jackie wrote a fantastic piece for damppebbles about what drives her to explore crime in her writing. If you missed it, click here and have a read. On 1st December 2016 Dead Man’s Prayer was published in paperback, so to celebrate I thought it was about time I gave this debut crime thriller a read. And I flipping loved it!
DI Frank Farrell is drawn back to his hometown of Dumfries. The only difference being that last time he was a resident of Dumfries and Galloway, he was a catholic priest and now he’s a detective inspector. That’s some career change! The ghosts of the past never stay buried for long though, and Farrell is thrown into investigating the murder of Father Boyd; once upon a time his mentor, housemate and sworn nemesis. Forced to confront his own demons, DI Farrell flounders with few clues and little evidence to go on. But when twin boys are snatched from a local nursery all attention is diverted elsewhere. But Frank has a feeling. He believes the murder of the priest and the kidnapping of the boys are linked. When one of the boys is found alive, hope for the other twin dwindles. Will DI Farrell be able to convince his team of the connection? And exactly how close to home will the investigation take him…?
For me, this is a perfect piece of crime fiction. I’ve always wondered if I’m a little strange as I always enjoy crime books featuring priests, or religious artefacts as murder weapons. Yup, it’s official, I am most definitely strange! With Dead Man’s Prayer I was in my element as not only does this story have a priest as the murder victim but also as the crime fighting superhero too. It was like a dream come true! As I’m sure you have already guessed, I really liked DI Frank Farrell. He’s not as damaged as my usual detectives but by no means is he squeaky clean. The fact that his team, at times, saw him as a priest rather than their DI was brilliant. I can’t wait to read more about DI Farrell.
DC Mhairi McLeod was also a favourite of mine. I’m not normally a fan of the ‘something to prove’ female sidekick but Mhairi won me over. She felt more real, relatable and sincere than other characters in a similar role in other books I’ve read.
I found the plot gripping from start to finish. Frank shares his suspicions fairly early on but you don’t discover what’s actually happened until much later. I enjoyed the build up, the ‘is he right, or is he wrong’ along with the ‘but how could that be the case?’. Brilliant writing from Jackie Baldwin. When I wasn’t reading this book and real life was happening, I wanted to be reading.
I became very emotional when it came to the young twins being snatached. And then again when only one of the boys was reunited with his family. The anguish the nursery staff felt really got to me too. Really difficult reading at times but superb writing!
Would I recommend this book? I most certainly would. It’s riding high on my list of top police procedurals for 2016. I just hope that I don’t have to wait too long before my path crosses with DI Frank Farrell again.
Five out of five stars.
I chose to read and review an ARC of Dead Man’s Prayer by Jackie Baldwin.
Dead Man’s Prayer by Jackie Baldwin was published in the UK by Killer Reads on 1st December 2016 and is available in paperback and eBook formats | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Goodreads | Killer Reads |
Jackie Baldwin was born in Dumfries. She studied law at Edinburgh University returning to Dumfries to practice criminal and family law for the next twenty years. During that time she married and had two children and a variety of pets. She later retrained as a hypnotherapist. Dead Man’s Prayer is her debut crime novel and is set in Dumfries. When not working or writing, Jackie can generally be found in a forest or by the beach on long muddy walks with her two Retrievers.