Dead Man’s Prayer – Jackie Baldwin

“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.”

Frank Farrell is a man with many demons, including mental health issues. He is estranged from his mother and was pushed into, and then from the priesthood.  He lost the love of his life to his best friend who is now his boss.  When Father Boyd, the priest who forced Farrell out of the priesthood, is found murdered in his local chapel, strangled to death by a set of rosary beads, Farrell is appointed Senior Investigating Officer on the investigation.  This forces him to revisit his past, and pushes him to his limits as he begins to doubt his own sanity.  When two young boys are kidnapped more and more evidence starts mounting up that suggests both crimes are linked and that Farrell is in fact the perpetrator of both crimes.  It is down to Farrell to find the real culprit and an explanation for the bizarre behaviour he seems to be displaying.  Has he completely lost his mind?

I was over the moon to be given a copy of this book to review, as a massive fan of Tartan Noir and a Scottish Catholic myself this book could not have been more up my street.  I’ve read many crime books with protagonists from many walks of life, but this is the first I have read that centres around a priest and I loved it!  I was immediately drawn to DI Farrell as he was an appealing and engaging character.  Whilst having a flawed and complex detective as a main character can be somewhat cliché, Frank’s faith and gung-ho attitude makes him interesting and unpredictable, and impossible not to like.  The plot was cleverly thought out and executed well, creating tension throughout.  As more secrets about Farrell’s past are revealed the darker the novel becomes, and there are plenty of plot twists to keep the reader gripped.  This is the debut novel from Baldwin and I hope it will not be the last as it has laid the groundwork perfectly for an excellent series!  4.5 stars from me.

Thank you to Harper Collins, Jackie Baldwin and NetGalley for the advanced copy in return for an honest review.

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