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The Cure of Souls (A Merrily Watkins…
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The Cure of Souls (A Merrily Watkins Mystery) (original 2001; edition 2002)

by Phil Rickman

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291757,470 (4.08)29
Member:rkaine
Title:The Cure of Souls (A Merrily Watkins Mystery)
Authors:Phil Rickman
Info:Macmillan UK (2002), Paperback, 496 pages
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The Cure of Souls by Phil Rickman (2001)

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3.5 stars ( )
  natcontrary | May 21, 2018 |
Merrily Watkins is the deliverance minister for the Diocese of Hereford, i.e., an exorcist. She suffers in this outing two failures that cause her to question her adequacy for her vocation. One involves a good girl who develops an antipathy to her adoptive parents’ religion after trying to contact her dead mother on a Ouija board. The other involves her going to hop country along the Frome River, where she tries to help a local cottager whose local priest refused to help him. Such is the dry bones of the cases. The fleshy details involve hop country classism and racism, Gypsies, a sleazy real estate developer, his powerful girl-woman stepdaughter, and rock music.

I have read many Phil Rickman books by now and may have some trouble remembering this one, which despite being entertaining, and suspenseful, lacks a certain uumph. I know that one problem is that, after reading five of her adventures, I still don’t have a strong grip on Merrily as a character. I can’t even visualize her. I find her bland and uninteresting even in this tale, where she is put through the ringer. ( )
  Coach_of_Alva | Oct 31, 2016 |
Not up to the standard of the series. The Gipsy thread tends to trivialize rather than heighten the drama here. Rickman had blended Celtic & Gipsy mystticism far better in December. Here both are diluted. ( )
1 vote ehines | Nov 5, 2011 |
Fourth Merrily Watkins book. A return to form as Merrily investigates strange occurrences at a hop barn and Jane (her daughter) finds herself embroiled with a young girl who has turned from the Church. Some old friends re-appear in the form of enigmatic vicar Simon St John and grouchy record producer Prof Levin (who both feature in Rickman's earlier work - December) as they, and Lol, become embroiled in solving a decades old mystery. ( )
1 vote soliloquies | Apr 13, 2011 |
The Church of England is finally allowing a more public forum concerning exorcisms, calling the newly-founded group Deliverance Ministry. Lucky for the Reverend Merrily Watkins that her previous experiences with exorcisms make her the best choice to lead this new division. Her first order of business comes in the form of a deeply devout mother who fears that her daughter may be possessed by an evil spirit and learning that her own daughter Jane may have played some part in the girl's presumed "possession". While trying to delve deeper into that case, Merrily is reluctantly pulled into another, more dire case involving a terrible historic murder in a recently converted hop-kiln near Herefordshire. Unluckily for Merrily, she finds herself drawn into the locale's corrupt past, dealing with shady politicos and a menacing and potentially deadly presence.

"The Cure of Souls" mixes the mystery story with a good supernatural thriller, combining them to create an entertaining novel filled with unexpected plot twists and a surprising amount of political intrigue. Most of the politics deal with the questionable dealings of the powerful Allan Henry and his conflict with David Shelbone who heads a historical society trying to preserve a property known as Barnchurch, but some of it touches on the politics within the church and how they handle situations involving the Deliverance Ministry. Having the supernatural, or potential of the supernatural, ever-present in the background adds to the tenseness of the story.

Author Phil Rickman also creates a lush and rick background for the story, from the tales of the Lady of the Bines and her horrific death to a history of hop farming and how that brought the Romany (Gypsies) to the country. All those elements play into the events of the story, making it feel more grounded and believable.

Rickman is a master of horror, and this is no exception. You're never quite sure what's supposed to be real and what's ghostly, and that adds to the enchantment of the story. I say "enchantment" because, even at close to 600 pages, I was caught up in the story and finished it in about a day and a half.

Fans of both mysteries and of ghostly/supernatural tales will enjoy this one. ( )
1 vote ocgreg34 | Sep 25, 2010 |
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It was really getting to Jane now, tormenting her nights, raiding her head as soon as she awoke in the mornings.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0330487566, Paperback)

As high summer bakes the rich earth of north-east Herefordshire, dark shadows gather around a converted hopkiln where the last owner was savagely murdered. Though the local vicar dismisses claims by its current occupants that the place is haunted, their story is soon splashed over a Sunday newspaper—and Merrily Watkins is directed by the Bishop of Hereford to defuse this situation. Merrily, however, is already contending with a woman's claim that her adopted teenage daughter is possessed by an evil spirit. In both cases Merrily remains unconvinced, but in this summer of oppressive heat and sudden storms, nothing is ever quite what it seems.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:18:01 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

As high summer bakes the rich earth of north-east Herefordshire, dark shadows gather around a converted hopkiln where the last owner was savagely murdered. Though the local vicar dismisses claims by its current occupants that the place is haunted, their story is soon splashed over a Sunday newspaper?and Merrily Watkins is directed by the Bishop of Hereford to defuse this situation. Merrily, however, is already contending with a woman's claim that her adopted teenage daughter is possessed by an evil spirit. In both cases Merrily remains unconvinced, but in this summer of oppressive heat and sudden storms, nothing is ever quite what it seems.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

» see all 4 descriptions

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