The Minister and the Murderer

A Book of Aftermaths

Stuart Kelly

Published: 1 November 2018
Paperback, B Format
129x198mm, 352 pages
ISBN: 9781847089236

Other Editions


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Published: 1 February 2018
Hardback, Royal HB
156x234mm, 352 pages
ISBN: 9781847089229

Ebook Available

About the author

Image of Stuart Kelly

Stuart Kelly is a Scottish critic and author. His works include The Book Of Lost Books: An Incomplete Guide To All The Books You'll Never Read and Scott-Land: The Man Who Invented A Nation, which was longlisted for the Samuel Johnson. Literary editor of the Scotsman,Kelly also writes for Scotland on Sunday, the Guardian and The Times. IIn 2014 he was a judge for the Man Booker Prize. More about the author


The Minister and The Murderer is wickedly, reverently good. Stuart Kelly explores the fascinating case of James Nelson, a convicted murderer who sought to be ordained, with polymathic intelligence, empathy, and wit. His ingeniously prismatic and allusive approach - part history, part homily, part Biblical exegesis, and part confession - touches every field of the humanities; it is also enormous fun to read, unfolding almost like a postmodern thriller. I loved it’ Eleanor Catton



The Minister and the Murderer... raises urgent and timely questions about forgiveness and the possibility of starting afresh in an age when all our sins are forever available on the internet...dazzling, digressive and very movingBook of the Year selected by Frank Cottrell Boyce

A colossal achievement. This is one of the most moving and profound books I have read in a long time’ Richard Holloway

‘An extraordinary book... It follows no known laws, fits no existing genre. Risk-taking but rigorous, it offers at once a history of the Church in Scotland, a meditation on the natures of faith and sin, and a searching enquiry into the soul and conscience of its own author’ Robert MacFarlane

‘Part true crime, part Theology of Despair, The Minister and the Murderer explores the hard borders of faith in the real world. A beautiful, deeply thought-provoking exploration of the history and purpose of faith’ Denise Mina

‘This is a remarkable exploration of aspects of religious faith and experience that ranges far beyond the story of the Rev James Nelson’

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