Sometimes murder is the only way to get even…
Four friends with dark secrets. One killer out for revenge.
DI Frank Farrell and DS McLeod are tasked with investigating the brutal murder of a defence solicitor’s wife in Dumfries.
It’s been over a year since they left the town after an investigation robbed them of a dear friend. But now they’re back and must find a way to move on.
When the son of another defence solicitor is murdered, a strange tattoo etched on his body, the case takes them into darker, more disturbing territory.
It leads them back into the past – to a horrific fire in a cottage that took a woman’s life, to four friends harbouring dark secrets – and finally to a killer waiting patiently for revenge.
My life as a solicitor for the defence.
My latest novel, Avenge the Dead is set against the backdrop of a small criminal bar in a rural town so, as I lived that life for many years, I thought I would give a flavour of what it is really like.
My first criminal trial as a newly qualified solicitor took place in Dumfries District Court. It was what is referred to as a 2 cop bop. This means a client has been charged with a breach of the peace and there are two police witnesses. It didn’t help that the local fiscal and his maverick pal were sat at the table in barely suppressed hysterics giving a whispered critique of my performance throughout. The client was convicted. I was traumatized. Had I not won a trial the following day, I suspect I would have run for the hills at that point.
In a small market town you spend a lot of time with your court colleagues gathered round a table in a stuffy room. It becomes a dysfunctional family of sorts with your strengths and weaknesses known to all. There was a lot of banter to relieve the monotony and we would all head off to the local café when we were finished to binge on bacon rolls and cake. Not exactly a healthy lifestyle.
It pays to foster good relations with the Procurator Fiscal service. If you take a cheap shot and exploit someone’s failure to do something then that person will have it in for you and your clients so long as you draw breath. It’s good to cut someone some much needed slack if it wouldn’t alter the outcome anyway. It never hurts to have a favour in the bank.
Back when I started in the mid-eighties, the local lawyers still operated on trust. If you gave your word that would be relied on. If you gave your word and something went catastrophically wrong all that remained standing was your word which must be honoured no matter what the consequences to the firm. Over the years as times became harder and competition between the firms fiercer, this trust between lawyers started to erode until some became regarded as untrustworthy but everyone knew who they were.
The Sheriff is like the feudal lord of the court. Some are benign and rule wisely. Others are not and miss no opportunity to belittle or humiliate that comes their way. I have appeared in front of some wonderful Sheriffs and I have appeared in front of one or two that kept me up at night when I knew I was to conduct a case in front of them. It is a position of absolute power and, sadly, some are bullies who enjoy abusing it.
Working in a small community there can be heart stopping moments such as when someone you know, or are even related to, appears in the dock. In those cases, I would shrink down into my robe, become engrossed in my papers, and pretend I hadn’t seen them. Discretion is a key attribute.
I mostly got along well with my criminal clients and they’d be happy to chat to me if they saw me out and about. Some had very troubled upbringings. Others had lost their minds and
teeth to drugs. A few touched me deeply over the years. I only felt myself to be in the presence of true evil a couple of times. Those encounters were truly chilling.
Thank you, Jackie Baldwin and Damppebbles Tours
About the author
Jackie Baldwin is a Scottish crime writer. Her debut crime novel, Dead Man’s Prayer, was published by Killer Reads on 2nd September 2016. The second in the series, Perfect Dead was published on 15th June 2018. For most of her working life, she has been a solicitor specialising in Family and Criminal Law. She later retrained as a hypnotherapist. Married with a grown family, she recently moved from Dumfries to East Lothian.
Google Books: https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=VtCqDwAAQBAJ