Today I’m very pleased to be welcoming Jackie Baldwin, author of Dead Man’s Prayer onto my blog as a guest and these are her thoughts.
There is a strong tradition in Scotland of Tartan Noir, with novels mostly set in the cities of Edinburgh, Glasgow, Aberdeen and, to a lesser extent, Dundee. Reading these books you get a strong sense of place. You can almost feel the city grime working its way up through your nose and into your lungs. Strange smells assault you from every corner and your guts twitch in a visceral reaction as the dark seedy underbelly of corruption and despair is slit open exposing the unseemly stench of its entrails…
Of course, that is only one side of life in a city and there is also culture, fine dining, sophistication and the kind of financial wheeling and dealing that would make your toes curl. The wealthy live in their own version of partition behind high walls, where the air is thinner but smells more sweetly, and wealth shimmers in the air like body glitter.
So why on earth would I want to forgo all that to set a crime novel in the market town of Dumfries in an area more renowned for its forests and beaches? Is my novel cosy then? Er, no, I don’t think so. Aside from the fact that I know this area, its quirks and tics, like the back of my hand, life in Dumfries is far from mundane. Although Dumfries is the largest town and would be the operative headquarters for any investigation, each of the satellite towns and villages that orbit around its centre have their own unique and differentiated character which gives scope for a wide range of plots.
We have landed gentry in the shape of the Duke of Buccleuch and the shooting, hunting and fishing brigade yet at the other end of the social scale we have housing estates where drugs are like a cancer eating people alive from the inside out. There is a thriving arts scene, a university and the type of wild remote islands where bodies have been found before. There is jousting and castles and forests and beaches and firms that might be prepared to kill to get ahead. The one thing that there is not is…anonymity. Scoop up two random people from the town of Dumfries and put them in a room together, I guarantee that within five minutes they will have found a mutual acquaintance. Pull the blinds and, if one of them sneezes, the next day someone will ask how their cold is? This connectedness is like a pressure cooker waiting to explode. As a writer, I am particularly interested in psychology and the things beneath the surface that drive our behaviours and vulnerabilities. In a town, as opposed to a city, these tensions are so much more heightened and intense.
So, you can keep your urban jungle with its noise and sirens and the constant clamour and tumult that frays your nerves quicker than they can be replaced. For me the real menace rolls in from the hills. Quiet, silent and deadly.
Thank you Jackie for visiting my blog today.
The book Dead Man’s Prayer was published on 2nd September 2016 and is available to purchase Here