Mystery Books for Sale

[ Home ]
[ About | Reviews | Search | Submit ]


by Phil Rickman
Quercus, October 2006
544 pages
14.99 GBP
ISBN: 1905204515

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

Two fascinating plots are wound together to form Phil Rickman's latest novel in the Merrily Watkins series, THE REMAINS OF AN ALTAR. The first begins when Merrily, a female Church of England vicar and Deliverance Consultant, is asked to investigate some road accidents in the Malvern Hills village of Wychehill. All the accidents had taken place in one spot and, reportedly, shortly before the collisions ghostly lights had distracted the drivers.

Wychehill is not a typical village -- most of the houses are hidden from the road and long-term residents are few. The village has, however, recently banded together to oppose the conversion of the nearby Red Lion Pub into a nightclub renamed Inn Ya Face which draws noisy customers, and drivers.

The nightclub certainly seems incongruous in an area which is best known for the inspiration it gave to the composer Sir Edward Elgar, a character with whom many locals seem obsessed. The club is also suspected of being tied up with drugs in some way, and this is practically confirmed when one of its employees is found slain in a possibly ritualistic manner in the nearby countryside, his drug-filled bag untouched.

Whilst Merrily battles to get to the bottom of what witnesses to the accidents did or didn't actually see, and what their motives might be either way, she also assists the police with information related to the murder. This keeps her so busy that the one thing she can't keep up with is her daughter Jane.

Jane is on a mission of her own. Seeing out the last few days at school now that her exams are behind her, her interest in pagan beliefs leads her to the conclusion that there is a ley line running through their village, and across a patch of land that is about to be developed. As she tries to establish whether there are facts to back up her instincts, she meets strong opposition and it becomes a race to protect the land and raise media awareness of the issue as she uncovers dubious goings-on by some local councillors.

THE REMAINS OF AN ALTAR is a real page-turner, and both plots are exciting and interesting enough that I was happy to switch back and forward between them. Whilst dealing with some spiritual matters, the book isn't over the top in these areas and thus for me it was firmly on the right side of believability. It is also a very well-researched book, and I picked up some interesting information along the way, which is always a bonus.

I really like the three main characters in this series, Merrily, Jane, and Merrily's lover Lol; they are very well-drawn, with history and texture. The scenery is also at the forefront in this book and is well described. I'd definitely recommend this series to anyone looking for something slightly different -- rich in history, a smattering of paranormal possibilities, but above all a really good mystery. I can't wait for the next one.

Reviewed by Bridget Bolton, November 2006

[ Top ]



Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

[ About | Reviews | Search | Submit ]
[ Home ]