Roddy Williams – The Atheist Poet

-Donaghue – Darryl

Murderous Reviews: A Journal of Sin – Darryl Donaghue (2014)

A Journal of Sin (Sarah Gladstone, #1)

OK. Somewhere in England the village of Sunbury is cut off following a devastating storm which floods the surrounding countryside.
A policewoman, Sarah Gladstone, is visiting her mother and finds herself – along with the rest of the villagers – cut off from escape, electricity and communication.
The local Catholic priest then goes missing and is subsequently found dead by a Yorkshire terrier and its alarmed owner.
Sarah then has to mount a single handed murder investigation, handicapped by uncooperative locals, and their fear of having had their confessions recorded for posterity in Father Michael’s secret journals.
It’s not a bad read but I had several problems with it.
The premise relies on the priest being Catholic since he has recorded details of his confessions in several journals.
I’m not convinced that a village like this would have a large enough Catholic population. It’s not clear to me where Sunbury is, but presumably somewhere in Middle England prone to floods.
Catholics in England, in my experience and I am happy to be proven wrong, tend to live in towns and cities. but, even given that there may well be villages with large Catholic populations, the characters that may have confessed are either not Catholic or don’t appear to be. The one person with an Irish name, Sean, has not it appears confessed himself but wants to see the confessions of someone else.
Then there’s the characters. There’s not a lot to make one care about any of them. There’s a kind of bleak realism that isn’t supported by any tension or real drama. The characters are defined only by their bad behaviour and one sees little of another side to them. Some occasional light relief would have been welcomed. They come over as cold and unlikeable. Even the heroine herself goes through the novel in a state of worried annoyance.
Thus, now and again, the reader’s switch gets flipped from exciting to depressing.
It’s well written and I stuck with it. Given some work on characterisation and perhaps a subplot I would have been more sold on it but as it stands it doesn’t encourage one to read more.