Parish priest and exorcist Merrily Watkins, “deliverance consultant for the Diocese of Hereford,” investigates more than one strange death near the Welsh border in Rickman’s eerie 11th mystery to mix the natural and the supernatural (after 2008’s To Dream of the Dead). In an address to an audience of fellow clergy that neatly brings new readers up to speed, Watkins recounts her first deliverance job years before—attending to an old man dying in a Hereford hospital who exuded a fierce sexual energy and “whose touch was like an enema.” Such evocative phrasing helps create an atmosphere of dark menace, even without stock horror elements like vampires or werewolves. Watkins later assists a frightened minister, who, in a prior life, served in “the hardest regiment in the entire history of the British Army,” and probes an apparent suicide. Rickman employs details about an ancient religion to good effect in developing the sophisticated plot. Agent: Andrew Hewson, Johnson & Alcock (U.K.). (June)
Reviewed on: 04/29/2013 Release date: 09/01/2011 Genre: Fiction
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