Tuesday, October 13

Phil Rickman: The Prayer of the Night Shepherd

A deteriorating old house, now hotel, hopes to make its name by exploiting the rumour that the idea for The Hound of the Baskervilles originated within its walls. Certainly there is a hint of sinister in the air that has the young Jane Watkins intrigued and her mother, diocese exorcist Merrily Watkins, worried. And local tales of hereditary evil aren’t easing her mind any. Neither is her unwanted and growing reputation as a faith healer helping.
Navigating through long standing family grudges, attempted suicides, documentary crews and a police murder inquiry would be hard enough on its own but throw in an impenetrable snow storm and an impromptu exorcism and this is one hell of a week.
This is the sixth Merrily Watkins mystery and the focus is more on her daughter than it is on the priest herself. While the storyline remains as intriguing and convoluted as ever and the eeriness that Rickman does so well is once again present, I am not convinced that the shift in character primacy worked well for me. While the teenaged character is well developed I don’t think she had quite enough depth to carry off the story more or less on her own. The lack of maturity on the part of the main character is something that isn’t really a problem as such; it just didn’t quite work for me.
Having said that this is still a great read, the series shows no sign of slowing down.-Lynn

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