Jack is the villain of my published novel The Lady in Red. In this blog I thought I would introduce my prospective readers to this most unlikeable of characters. Unlikeable, that is, if you look at him in all of his sinister shades. But this is not how I, as the author, like to view him. I prefer to wonder at his resourcefulness which allows him to make hay when others in the same profession struggle to make ends meet. But then Jack is an inventive guy who will stop at nothing to ensure he keeps the money rolling in.
When Jack puts it to his partner William Dreghorn that they should ‘lend a helping hand to death’ he is fully aware of the seriousness behind this course of action. As bodysnatchers they are not able to keep their client, a local surgeon, fully supplied with bodies as they would wish. There is a killing to be made (if you will excuse the pun!) if they play their cards right. The surgeon in question is like so many of his brethren: he is desperate for a steady stream of corpses to enter his surgery so he can get down to work and dissect them thereby devising suitable remedies for deadly diseases. But where are these corpses to be found? Not in the local cemetery that’s for sure. There are precious few bodies to be located there. At least not ones which are fresh enough to make them suitable subjects for any surgeon worthy of the name. So something has to give. Jack believes murder is the only answer and he is hell bent on putting his idea into practice with the reluctant help of his partner in crime.
William Dreghorn is not cut out of the same cloth as Jack Farley. The two may come from the same walk of life and from similar backgrounds certainly on the social scale but they are wildly different when it comes to their views on certain matters. Take this matter of killing so as to put food on their tables. This does not sit well with William, not at all. As it so happens he is not totally comfortable in their bodysnatching activities. He finds it an unseemly practice stealing into the local cemetery in the dead of night to dig up graves of the recently buried. But if they can employ themselves in this practice without being caught then so be it. At least it is a way of making a living. However, when Jack first brings up the subject of murdering people so as to accrue more bodies he is strongly opposed to the idea. However, he is soon won around to his partner’s way of thinking not because he suddenly believes it is a great idea but rather because Jack holds something over him. If he does not comply with his partner’s wishes then he could very well find himself jailed in consequence of some wrongdoing he had perpetrated a little while before.
In a strange sort of way I suppose one could say I admire Jack. This may seem a strange thing to say about a murderer but it is true nonetheless. He has a winning sense of humour which he shows from time to time. This is very much of a dark order but it fits the circumstances very well indeed. I also like the way he talks to people, both those he knows and others who are strangers to him. He has a brusque sort of delivery which has a high entertainment value. He is his own man and he will brook no one standing in his way. He leaves no stone unturned in implementing his murderous activities. He knows there are dangers to what he is doing and has to keep on his toes so as to stay one step ahead of those who would delight in his downfall.
To sum up, then, Jack is an engaging fellow who knows what he wants but is careful to keep one step ahead of the law. Not everything is plain sailing for him. He has to endure some hardship from time to time and some nasty surprises but he is clever enough and astute enough to always come up with the answers to the questions which come his way. All of which makes him a dangerous adversary and this is borne out throughout the pages of The Lady in Red. Whether in his mortal guise or many generations afterwards when he returns as a ghost Jack is a law unto himself. It will take an opponent who is equally as resourceful and inventive as him to bring him down. The question is who will step up to the plate and take him on? Who will be courageous enough to do so and what chances will there be that this individual will come out on the right side?