Ludlow: Exquisite medieval streets, an imposing ruined castle and a weight of history and legend. Wealthy, famous people come here to live. A sad teenage boy comes here to die...dramatically, at sunset, in a fall from the ruins. Accident or suicide? Either way, no great mystery. Or is it?
Robbie Walsh was the nephew of former Detective Sergeant Andy Mumford, who calls on Merrily Watkins when his ailing mother becomes convinced that she’s still seeing her dead grandson in the town. Merrily, parish priest, single mum and Deliverance consultant to the diocese of Hereford, is likely to know if his mother’s problem is dementia, delusion or something even more disturbing.
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Atmospheric and enthralling
I love this series of supernatural detective novels, they are set in the borderlands between England and Wales, each in a different place. I have just been to visit Ludlow on the strength of Phil Rickman's evocative descriptions of the town. It is just as beautiful as he describes it to be and it added an extra dimension to visit the places that his characters appear in and to know about the ghost of Ludlow Castle.
Merrily Watkins the reluctant vicar and modern day exorcist is a wonderful creation. Full of doubt about religion, about the existence of ghosts, about her ability to make a difference, yet always at the hub of some fascinating mystery.
Emma Powell backs up both Merrily Watkins and her pagan daughter Jane with her own voice - contemporary and female but with no awkwardness depicting owlish local eccentric Gomer Parry or the mayor of Ludlow.
Yes. I have to ration myself to one Merrily Watkins novel every couple of months in order to make them last a little bit longer.
Phil Rickman clearly loves the landscapes he describes and imbues them with elemental power and with human mystery.
The Smile of a Ghost