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The Secrets of Pain (Merrily Watkins Mysteries) Hardcover – September 1, 2011
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Compassionate, original and sharply contemporary, Rickman's crime series is one of the best around * Spectator * Ancient history, violent deaths, feuds, intrigues and murder. A most original sleuth. * The Times * Few writers blend the ancient and supernatural with the modern and criminal better than Rickman - Merrily Watkins is both strikingly original and consistently intriguing... A fascinating portrayal of ancient grudges and shifting allegiances make this an absorbing and thought-provoking thriller. * Guardian * First rate crime with demons that go bump in the night. * Daily Mail * A dark no man's land where murder mingles with superstition. Brilliant. * ANDREW TAYLOR *
About the Author
Phil Rickman lives on the Welsh border where he writes and presents the book programme Phil the Shelf on BBC Radio Wales. He is the hugely popular author of The Bones of Avalon and the Merrily Watkins Mysteries.
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Meanwhile, a wealthy farmer is hacked to death in his own farmyard, and his demise sets off the local anti-immigration yobbos. Merrily's detective-friend, Frannie Bliss works this murder while his estranged wife makes his personal life as miserable as she possibly can. Soon a couple more murders are added to his caseload, this time the beating deaths of two Romanian immigrant sisters.
Oddly enough, the police procedural parts of "The Secrets of Pain" are not nearly as compelling as the parts directly involving Merrily and Jane. The author does attempt to pull all threads of his complicated plot together at book's end, but this mystery lacked the intense focus of earlier novels in this series, such as "The Fabric of Sin" (the eighth novel in the series).
Gomer Parry, the manic digger-for-hire who is one of my favorite characters in the Merrily mysteries, has a small but important role to play just when events are at their nadir, and it appears as though the pseudo-SAS bullies are going to complete their takeover of the haunted Welsh borderland that is the setting for this series.
The Merrily books are educational as well as a riveting mixture of mystery and the supernatural, and this time the reader will feast on the rather unsettling combination of Roman archeology and Julian of Norwich, a medieval English mystic (a woman, in spite of her name).
If you haven't read any books in this series, this probably isn't the place to start, as it does build on what has come before. So I won't aim this review at those who haven't read other books in this series. If you have read the other books, though, you should absolutely continue with this one--and I probably don't need to tell you that anyway. It is an interesting story, well told, and all our favorite characters are here. Gomer Parry, Plant Hire gets to take a major role in this one, which I liked, and Jane is both wonderful and infuriating all at once again.
Honestly, I'd read these books even without a mystery to solve, because by now, the characters feel like old friends, and I want to know what they're up to. But of course, Rickman crafts a cracking good mystery, and I love the twists and turns of the plot, which work well to build tension, but don't seem totally forced or unbelievable.
another great book in the series!
I discovered this series earlier this year and am taking my time reading them so I don't run out of the books.