After being a very private pleasure for a small but devoted readership, the Merrily Watkins novels by Phil Rickman have become a hot property, with a highly regarded TV mini-series – Midwinter of the Spirit – putting the reverend lady on the screen for the first time. Phil Rickman is among the top class of British crime authors, and we gave The Magus of Hay an enthusiastic review, and were delighted to speak to him about his work in this 2013 interview.
Now, Merrily returns to face the new broom approach of a modernising Bishop of Hereford, who thinks that her role as a deliverance minister should be consigned to history. Despite this threat to her work, she is sought by a family who have moved into an ancient house on the Welsh border. They are far too sophisticated to believe in ghosts, but something about the house is troubling them, and they want it resolved. In addition, Merrily becomes involved after a storm uproots a tree near the cathedral, unearthing a pile of old bones. Perhaps the massive, gnarly great roots depicted on the cover allude to the tree in the story. When the bones are stolen, Merrily sets out to discover if this is a silly prank, or something much more sinister.
This is the 13th Merrily Watkins story. The book will be out in Kindle on 5 November, but if you want this lovely hardback edition – all 460 pages of it – you will have to wait until 3 December. Amazon has it priced at £12.91. Order your copy here.