I’m delighted to be welcoming Jackie Baldwin to Linda’s Book Bag today. Jackie’s debut novel Dead Man’s Prayer was published yesterday, 2nd September 2016 by Killer Reads. Dead Man’s Prayer is the first in the DI Frank Farrell series and is available for purchase here.
In celebration of yesterday’s publication, Jackie kindly agreed to explain how her childhood has influenced her writing of Dead Man’s Prayer.
Dead Man’s Prayer
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.
Saints and Sinners
A Guest Post by Jackie Baldwin
I went to the local Benedictine Convent School from the age of 5 to 18. The nuns were kind, though way back then, before the Church began to modernise, the teachings left a deep impact on an imaginative and impressionable child and have definitely fuelled my writing as well as my fascination with psychology. There were no grey areas, no room for doubt, things were good or they were evil. You went to Heaven or you went to Hell and burned for all eternity. There was a third Purgatory option, like the Scottish verdict of Not Proven, but I won’t muddy the waters.
I made my first Holy Communion at the age of 7 dressed all in white and enjoyed the celebration breakfast afterwards with the priest and the nuns but remember worrying about transubstantiation and how receiving the body of Christ in communion must surely be cannibalism?
We were told the grisly tales of the sainted martyrs who met their ends in a ways that would make the most grizzled Noir crime writer flinch and run for a bucket. Every now and then the box of religious relics would be brought out and we would gaze in awe at a bone from a saint, a jewel or the actual splinter of the cross.
One night, as an 8 year old, I had a Eureka moment. I would get God and the Devil to make up and sort all this worldly mess out. I called God down to one corner of my room and the Devil to the other and earnestly sought to broker a peace deal. Well, it clearly didn’t work!
Confession loomed large in my young life. It felt horrible and squirmy at the time but it made you feel brand new afterwards. The slate had been wiped clean and you had a squeaky clean soul…until the next transgression. One of the priests took a very dim view of our innocent sins. I recall kneeling in the chapel with the rest of my class speed reciting my penance so my pals wouldn’t think I was really bad. Cheating wasn’t an option. That omniscient thing was really annoying. I paid careful mind to the formalities lest someone drop down dying in front of me in Dumfries High Street and need to relieve himself of his sins with his dying breath, leaving me as the only thing that stood between him and Hell. A bit like the way Doctor’s must feel as they go on a plane, go to the theatre or anywhere, really…
I suppose, looking back it was almost inevitable that all this internal youthful angst would bubble up like lava through a crater and create a character such as DI Farrell one day. A former RC priest with a strong moral compass who strives to subdue his failings, conquer his demons and become a better man. It has also informed the themes of forgiveness, guilt and redemption that tend to run like fault lines through my work.
About Jackie Baldwin
Jackie Baldwin is a Scottish crime writer and former criminal lawyer. Dead Man’s Prayer is her debut novel.
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