There are a number of crime writers who were once involved in law enforcement and its associated professions. Some of these writers are my particular favourites including Jorn Lier Horst and Mari Hannah. Darryl Donaghue is a former detective who changed career to enable him to write his first crime novel. A Journal of Sin is a solid debut set in the south of England featuring as its protagonist a happily married police detective.
A village Catholic priest is found murdered leaving behind a journal featuring his parishioners’ confessions. The village is cut off following a storm and PC Sarah Gladstone is forced to use her investigative skills with little support or experience to find the killer.
A Journal of Sin‘s greatest strength is the character of inexperienced policewoman, Sarah Galdstone. As well as investigating the case, we also get a fair amount of Sarah’s back story and the calls on her time as a police officer with a family. Donaghue doesn’t let his experience in the police force dominate the narrative. Instead we get an insight into the complexities of an investigation through the eyes of a detective still feeling her way in her profession.
I always enjoy small town settings and Donaghue uses the landscape to his advantage. The elements dominate when you’re out of the city and the use of a flood gives a sense of entrapment that adds drama to the story.
This is clearly the start of a series featuring Sarah Gladstone. Based on this first book, I think Donoghue should go from strength to strength as he draws on his wealth of experience.
Thanks to the author for my review copy.