Dead Man’s Prayer by Jackie Baldwin

DI Frank Farrell has returned to Dumfries to take up a new position, but things aren’t going to go smoothly. DI Farrell has something of a past – he used to be a priest, he has a history of mental illness, he used to be in a relationship with the current wife of his best friend and current boss, he had to change psychiatrists after trying to kiss one (who is now back in his life), and there’s plenty more, but that goes heavily into spoiler territory.

Anyway, when the priest that had Farrell kicked out of the priesthood is savagely murdered and then a pair of young twins are kidnapped, Farrell soon discovers that the two crimes are related. Moreover, the crimes seem to be linked to Farrell’s past and the killer is determined to make it personal. Very personal indeed…

I was chatting with Mrs Puzzle Doctor just before starting reading this one – a random pick from the various 99p bargains on my Kindle – about getting off my bottom and finally start actually writing the book that I’ve been banging on about for ages. That’s what made Brian Flynn start writing, as per an article that he wrote, so I thought I’d get my better half to inspire me. One of the first things that I considered was which tropes of modern crime writing I would embrace and which I would avoid. The first thing was that I was certain that my central character would not have some sort of trauma in his/her background that would continue to plague them. And then I read this book.

So it’s fair to say that we got off on the wrong foot, this book and I. But I kept reading, as the central plot was intriguing and I was curious where it was going. DC McLeod, the young DC assisting Farrell is an interesting creation and I felt that despite the various issues that Farrell was trying to balance, there was a lot of potential here.

So I kept reading…

OK, let’s take a quick break and say that this has a rating of 4.6/5 on Amazon and 4.17/5 on Goodreads. Just thought I’d add that in.

Usually at this point I’d say that I’m not the target readership. But this probably comes under tartan noir and I’m a massive fan of Stuart MacBride. But I wasn’t a fan of this.

At around the halfway point, the plot takes a very odd turn that makes a somewhat unbelievable plot descend into utter nonsense. I don’t think I’ve been this disappointed with a novel for a long time or as confused as to why nearly everyone else who has read it seems to love it. Seriously, there are no 1/5 scores on Amazon and the only 2/5 score reckons it was “ok”. Much as I think the second half warrants discussion, obviously that goes against my spoiler policy, but put it this way, believers in Father Knox’s Decalogue will not be impressed.

I would love to hear from anyone (and there are plenty of you out there) who read and enjoyed this one. But I can’t recommend this one. Sorry.

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