At the start of British author Rickman's assured novella, the 13th entry in his Merrily Watkins paranormal series (after 2014's The Magus of Hay), Zoe Mahonie and her husband, Jonathan, discover that their new home in Hereford, England, was previously occupied by Susan Lulham, a hair stylist who slashed herself to death in the living room some years earlier. After finding the dead woman's nickname, Suze, scrawled across a mirror in red lipstick, Zoe suspects that the house is haunted by her restless spirit. Zoe asks Merrily, the local diocesan exorcist, to exorcise the building, but Merrily's efforts turn into a public fiasco when Zoe films the rite and posts the video online. Things only get worse after another person dies on the premises, leaving Merrily to ascertain whether the cause of the new unnatural death was natural or supernatural. The creative and evocative prose ("the line of symmetrical windows above the conservatory was full of white light, like a row of perfect, crowned teeth") enhances the intelligently constructed plot and helps suspend disbelief. (Jan.)
Reviewed on: 01/11/2016 Release date: 01/01/2016 Genre: Fiction
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