The teenage John Baptist murdered his brother in a bathtub. Condemned to a secure mental institution, he met Mary and they bonded. But young and crazy love rarely endures. Electrotherapy wiped John’s memory and he was cured.
Twenty years later, John has become a respectable, slightly overweight and balding pillar of society with a wife and young family. Then he starts to remember…
Told from a serial killer’s viewpoint and combining elements of Criminal Minds and Dexter, The Baptist is a deceptive view of normality through the lens of a man obsessed by religious mania and a woman driven insane by lust
Jim Williams, Booker prize nominee, on The Baptist by Ruby Barnes – “This is not a standard serial killer thriller, and this means that the reader does not have the safety and comfort of the usual conventions. Prepare to be creeped out.
The most effective passages of the book deal with John’s encounter with a mysterious friend, Feargal, and the resumption of his relations with Mary. Because we see events through John’s eyes the surface of the narrative becomes slippery with uncertainty as to the reality of what we are seeing, and the identities of characters seem to elide one into another. This part is wonderfully done because of the delicate writing, which is restrained, slyly humorous, and at times lyrical. The best parts are reminiscent of Kazuo Ishiguro.”