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The Secrets of Pain: A Merrily Watkins Mystery, Book 11 Audible – Unabridged

4.8 out of 5 stars 27 customer reviews

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By ealovitt HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on September 28, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
"The Secrets of Pain" is the eleventh Merrily Watkins procedural and the most interesting parts of this novel focus around the middle-aged deliverance consultant and her daughter Jane, who is trying to track down a cockfighting ring within the precincts of her beloved Ledwardine. Merrily herself is trying to figure out why a friend, who was a Special Forces (SAS) chaplain experienced a sudden, demon-haunted death with a twenty-pound Bible strapped to his back.

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).
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Format: Hardcover
The long-awaited eleventh installment in the Merrily Watkins series does not disappoint; in fact, it had me hooked from the first page. Strange goings-on beneath the surface of the seemingly-idyllic countryside include an ex-SAS guy running a dude ranch on steroids, the brutal slaying of a gentleman farmer, ghosts of deceased SAS comrades and Roman soldiers appearing, and illegal cockfighting.
Our old friends are back: Jane is using her newly-won adulthood and sex appeal to get to the heart of the spoiling of Ledwardine. Lol, at work on more songs with Danny the rock and roll farmer, does some crucial investigating of his own. Gomer gets a chance for more JCB heroics, and Frannie's a hero in his own right. Merrily is becoming increasingly adept at helping the police, including Annie the ice queen, zero in on the bad guys and what they are up to. She is expanding her religious view to include English mysticism and feminist theology. And Phil Rickman's humor, irony and suspenseful writing littered with vivid metaphors is stronger than ever.
And be sure to get Lol Robinson's 2 cds, available via the Phil Rickman website; "The Simple Trackway Man" and other songs with lyrics appearing in this and previous books are beautifully performed by Lol and Hazey Jane II! Perfect atmospheric listening while rereading the series and getting ready for the next Merrily book.
(I ordered mine from Amazon UK so I wouldn't have to wait to read it.)
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This is number 11 in the Merrily Watkins series and author Phil Rickman has once again created an exciting book that does not fail to live up to expectations for those of us who have followed Merrily form her first tentative steps as deliverance consultant (Excorcist) in a rural village in Herefordshire near the Welsh border.
The characters are so familiar by now, it's like catching up with old friends. The dialogue is snappy and often witty in an understated way and the action is well paced and keeps you turning those pages well into the night. Phil Rickman weaves an atmosphere that is totally enthralling.
As always this is a book for the thinking reader. The supernatural element is subtle, always a smudgy line between what is paranormal and what is psychological. Merrily is no clerical superhero but a single mum who doubts and second guesses herself, juggles her relationship with her volatile teenage daughter Jane and tries to find her own personal happiness.
Although each of the Merrily books stand alone and do not have to be read in sequence, this one is probably not a good starting point for anyone who is not familiar with the series. There are quite a few references back to events in previous books. Having said that - I cannot recommend the whole series highly enough. Buy this boook, but beware, you won't be able to put it down.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I've enjoyed most of the MW series, but this one seemed a bit too tangential. Merrily's character becomes too passive and ineffectual, she begins to seem like a conscience without a will. The SAS story is interesting, but the end was disappointingly flat. Not one of his better books, in my opinion.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The latest book in the Merrily Watkins saga does not disappoint. This is the largest tome in the series, for good reason. The story is chock full of twists and turns, telling what appears to be at least four different stories. Never fear, by the end Rickman pulls it all together in his usual fashion. He is a master craftsman who never fails to provide a perfectly finished product.

In this one we learn more about the SAS, military heroes who endure the most rigorous training to become the best in the world and sometimes make deep sacrifices in their personal lives. We also follow Frannie Bliss as he investigates a seemingly racially motivated murder of two immigrant women. Jane, Merrily's daughter, is occupied with discovering the existence of an exceptionally cruel "sport" occurring in Ledwardine. While all this is going on Merrily looks into the death of a former colleague which leads to a strange, militaristic cult created by the followers of Mithras.

As usual, Rickman provides us with a fascinating history lesson as well as trenchant observations about the changes occurring in England's small towns.

When you finish this book, you will come away feeling that you have had an experience that is seldom found in the average mystery novel.
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