Rickman effectively builds on the creepy opening of his 15th mystery featuring Anglican minister Merrily Watkins (after 2015’s Friends of the Dusk). Merrily, whose parish is near the Welsh border, feels guilty about the poor quality of the funeral she conducted for Aidan Lloyd, a young man who died after being struck by a van. She didn’t know him, and his surviving family provided few details about his life. Merrily, who specializes in helping her flock deal with paranormal experiences, was also unsettled by Aidan’s father’s whisper at the graveside that his son was taken by the devil. Soon after, Merrily and her daughter, Jane, respond to noises in the cemetery abutting the vicarage, only to see “men like dark hawks under tall hats, moving like figures on a Victorian automaton, closing sluggishly together and then parting to expose in grey light the suggestion of a face” dancing on Aidan’s grave. Merrily’s search to understand what she witnesses in the cemetery coincides with efforts of more conventional clergy members to “fit the Church into the real world” (i.e., rid the ministry of “loonies” like herself). As usual, Rickman makes suspension of disbelief easy in his combining of natural and supernatural phenomena. (May)
Reviewed on: 10/23/2017 Release date: 04/01/2017 Genre: Fiction
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