In the most recent Father Gilbert mystery, Death in the Shadows (Lion Fiction), the Scotland Yard detective-turned-Anglican Vicar gets drawn into the mystery of a murdered girl at a seaside resort – and is soon entangled in the town’s corruption, a high-stakes power struggle, and the many victims who serve as pawns for an unscrupulous sex trade operation. In this Q&A, mystery author Paul McCusker shares the inspiration for the novel, the research behind it, and the overarching theme for the series…
Can you describe Death In The Shadows in one sentence?
Father Lewis Gilbert, a Scotland Yard detective-turned-Anglican Vicar, gets drawn into the mystery of a murdered girl at a seaside resort – and is soon entangled in the town’s corruption, a high-stakes power struggle, and the many victims who serve as pawns for an unscrupulous sex trade operation.
What inspired this story?
I was researching the very painful and sordid realities of the illegal sex trade industry and thought Father Gilbert and a mystery might be an effective way to tackle the subject sensitively.
Any parts of the plot or characters pulled from real life?
Not directly from my life, but certainly from the lives of many people impacted by that industry – both the practitioners and the users of it.
I have talked to law enforcers and a few ministry members who deal with this illegal trade. I also searched for first-hand accounts of how it works, its impact on those who are trapped in it, and those who engage in it.
Is there an overarching theme for the series?
Father Gilbert deals with mysteries that have a supernatural edge to them. Overarching themes include the nature of evil and how it seduces us into its deception; and the reality of the supernatural in our lives and how we must use our faith to it.
What makes Father Gilbert such an interesting character?
An Anglican priest with a history as a Scotland Yard detective makes him very interesting to me. That, and the fact that he seems to be a magnet for the supernatural – and he doesn’t know why.
Death in the Shadows
A Father Gilbert Mystery