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Tuesday, 11 September 2007

Phil Rickman

I have just emerged blinking into the sunlight having read Phil Rickman's latest installment in his series about Merrily Watkins, parish priest and part time 'Deliverance consultant'. To the uninitiated this is the current term for the old fashioned exorcist. For anyone who wants to know exactly what an exorcist does these are excellent. This is understated horror with insights into all things occult, including in this volume - 'The Fabric of Sin' - a foray into the murkier regions of Templar history in Britain not to speak of a sinister masonic influence.

What is most interesting to someone who has read the rest of the series is the development of characters - Merrily's teenaged daughter Jane is growing up but not losing her enquiring mind, Merrily's relationship with Lol is developing and deepening. Frannie Bliss - the policeman is still there as is Gomer Parry the former plant hire man and stalwart of the village of Ledwardine in Herefordshire on the border with Wales. The village - fictional - reminds me of Ludlow with its black and white houses. The real Hereford appears as well, and of course the cathedral there features.

I thoroughly recommend this series for a well written and well researched clutch of novels showing the darker side of life and the Church of England. They deserve to be better known. As do the novels of Kate Charles and Susan Howatch. Kate Charles does not cover quite the same ground and her novels usually feature a crime, though the background is the clergy and the Church. Susan Howatch in her trilogy about the St Benet's healing centre - 'The Wonder Worker', 'The High Flyer' and 'The Heartbreaker' covers similar ground though more about the ministry of healing than the deliverance ministry. Her 6 Starbrdge novels do touch on deliverance though.