#BookReview: Dead Man’s Prayer by Jackie Baldwin (@JackieMBaldwin1) @KillerReads

514ibchgoml-_sx325_bo1204203200_“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 |

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Jackie_02_by_Kim_AyresJackie 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.

Author Links: Twitter | Facebook |

 

#BlogTour | #GuestPost: Dead Man’s Prayer by Jackie Baldwin (@JackieMBaldwin1) @KillerReads

Dead Man's Prayer (1)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.

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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 |

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Photo credit to Kim Ayres

Jackie Baldwin is a Scottish crime writer and former criminal lawyer. Dead Man’s Prayer is her debut novel.

Connect with Jackie via Twitter @JackieMBaldwin1 or Jackie’s Facebook Author Page.

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