Saints & Sinners

12 tales of Crime and the Clergy
Saints and Sinners is a book of twelve stories linked by the themes of clergy and crime. Each is about a clergyman or woman and their involvement in crime, either as the perpetrator, victim or detective. Some of the clergy are good, others are weak and some evil and they are from different denominations: Anglican, Baptist, Methodist.

The book explores questions about good and evil in the context of life and the Church. The stories are not linked together and all have separate characters. Not all are murders and in one no crime seems to have been committed.

In one of the stories the perfect hiding place for a dead body is discovered; another explores the life of someone who as a soldier commits murder and then becomes a monk. There is one set in rural Yorkshire and is told in a series of letters and one set at the time of the American
Civil War. A dead vicar is found in the library in one and there are very strange goings on at a Ministers barbeque in another. There is a very dubious Dean of a Cathedral and a curate who collects inheritances. A good clergyman is maligned and a Pastor's son is determined to tell the truth.

Themes of the stories include murder, deception, lust, greed, envy, hate and witchcraft, the usual attributes found in the average church congregation!

THE author of these tales has spent 35 years ministering in the Methodist Church, and it is clear that these years have not been wasted. He has a sharp eye for human weakness; but is also compassionate.

Like many writers of short stories, he writes in the shadow of masters — Roald Dahl, who more or less perfected the tale with a twist, and Agatha Christie, whose short stories are, perhaps, rather better than her long ones, revealing as they do a more unusual take on the world of crime. To these elements, Lorimer adds his own ingredient — a focus on the clergy.

One story in the collection stands out, "The Collector": a lonely middle-aged female curate has developed collecting mania, but not for something as innocent as postage stamps. She goes on cruises and cultivates old ladies, prompting them to leave her something in their wills. The way she is hoist with her own petard is satisfying, as is the method by which the story lays bare character, showing how the person who turns to depravity is somehow missing some natural human instinct from the start. This subject could have been touched on by Dahl or Christie; for the tale is worthy of both.

The first story in the collection, "The Gravedigger" is based on an insight that has often occurred to me — namely, that the best place to hide a body is in a cemetery. Again, the tale is told with considerable skill, showing how a fundamentally good character can be lured into crime with seeming ease. It could happen to any of us, which must give the reader pause, particularly if he or she is a cleric.

The one tale set in a Roman Catholic environment, a monastery, "A Very Necessary Murder", examines an important moral issue, and again, creates discomfort; for it reveals crime as all too difficult to avoid.

I imagine that Lorimer is a very good preacher, because he knows his subject, human nature, and he has a knack for telling tales.

ISBN: 978-0-9562224-2-8
BINDING: Paperback COVER PRICE: £7.99*
SIZE: 127mm X 198 mm PAGES: 224
PUBLICATION DATE: March 1st 2011

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