Regulars at our events will be familiar with Stuart Kelly for his elegant author interviews from Rick Stein to Maggie O’Farrell, so it is with great pleasure that we welcome him back, this time as the star of the show, talking about his new book, The Minister and the Murderer. Stuart will be ‘in conversation’ with the director of the Edinburgh Book Festival, Nick Barley.

In 1984 the leaders of the Church of Scotland gathered in the Great Assembly building on Edinburgh’s Royal Mile to discuss the case of James Nelson – a convicted murderer who was hoping to become a minister. The debate that followed divided the church and Stuart Kelly looks back at this unusual sin, at biblical notions of forgiveness at the complex power structures within the Church, and at centuries of division and challenge.

This is a deeply insightful book on society, rich with literary and theological references, hugely articulate on the complexities of human nature and the role of faith. It is also a profoundly personal book from an author who rediscovered his belief in God through literature.

“What an extraordinary book. It follows no known laws, fits no existing genre. It is, unmistakably, the work of a polymathic thinker who is also a writer of rare elegance. 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 the one of the most moving and profound books I have read in a long time. And it’s funny. A colossal achievement.” Richard Holloway