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Publisher's Summary

Garway church was built by medieval Knights Templar, and after seven centuries, the Welsh Border village is still shadowed by their mysteries. A few fields away, the Master House, abandoned and falling into ruin, has been sold to the Duchy of Cornawll. But renovation plans stall when a specialist builder refuses to work there, insisting it's a place that doesn't want to be restored. Directed by the Bishop of Hereford to investigate, Merrily Watkins is wary of being used and suspicious of the people she's supposed to be helping. But violent death changes everything, and Merrily uncovers hidden layers of sin and retribution in a secretive landscape.
©2007 Phil Rickman; (P)2008 Isis Publishing Ltd
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Critic Reviews

"Rickman's crime series is one of the best around" (Spectator)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

By Sharon on 12-10-13

My favorite Phil Rickman

Sometimes the narrator contributes so much to a series that they imprint themselves in my mind as indistinguishable from the protagonist. That has definitely happened with Emma Powell. She is one of the most accomplished narrators working today, and I wish she worked non-stop. That being said, the plot here is also absorbing. Listening while I garden is a favorite hobby, and this one kept me on my knees in the dirt til after dark.

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4 of 4 people found this review helpful


By Jen Terry on 01-12-09

outstanding, as always

I'm in love with the Merrily Watkins series as a whole, and this book delivers the goods once again. My favorite thing is how he weaves actual historical facts and figures into his stories. I read "O Whistle and I'll Come to You, My Lad" in a collection of short stories many years ago and it haunted me ever since(even though I forgot both the name of it's author and the collection). When I heard lines from that tale coming from the mouths of this book's characters, the little hairs rose on my arms and neck! I've never known of anyone else who had even heard of that story! As always, I'm sorry that Rebecca Lacey didn't do the reading (she did the first and was excellent). Emma Powell is quite good, but Ms. Lacey was the best.

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4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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Customer Reviews

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By Pat on 07-12-09

Ghosts at Garway Church?

Firstly I must say that I thoroughly enjoyed this audiobook. Having said that I must admit to having reservations about how well this particular story lends itself to audio format. It is a complicated story with many characters, and flashbacks to times decades and centuries before the book's present. This can lead to confusion.
The main character, the brilliantly named Merrily Watkins, is trying to ply her wares as a priest and part time exorcist against a background of an increasingly more secular Church, the usual conspiracies of fear and silence, and her need to keep her personal relationships from scandalising the community. In this she is a most believable character, struggling with the mundane to achieve the sublime.
The plot involves a Manor house which has been newly purchased by the Crown. The builder engaged to conduct the refurbishment has been scared away and refuses to return. Merrily is asked to establish whether it there are earthly or spiritual disturbances at work.
When you throw in a fistful of strange local characters, the Knights Templar and their nearby Church, and the complex life that Merrily herself lives, it is easy to see how the story becomes complicated and a little hard to follow at times. The reading is good though, and well paced.
I would recommend this audiobook and have given it three stars though I would readily accept that it possibly deserves three and a half.

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3 of 3 people found this review helpful


By A. Watson on 04-13-13

Abandon Your Catheters and Hail Merrily Watkins

It's a strange thing. It seems the only people who don't appreciate the excellent Merrily Watkins novels are the serial bed wetters who continue to wail and gnash their plastic fangs at Rickman for packing up his collection of pendulums, healing crystals and dowsing rods and decamping to the vicarage in Ledwardine where he now does a brisk trade with bell, book and candle. The Fabric of Sin may well turn out to be the book that finally brings a few of these disillusioned souls back to the body of the Kirk, so to speak.



This isn't a book for reading in leisurely, spaced out intervals (or any sort of spaced-out way for that matter) as the plot ricochets at high velocity between M.R. James, Templar Knights, religiously rabid parishioners, malevolent entities, synthetic sexual partners, and black magic rituals. Add murder, rape, suicide, along with a small dash of Nick Drake to the already sparking crucible and what you get is one of the best Merrily Watkins novels yet.



This novel may fall into the crime/mystery genre but the prose is always more Robert Frost than Inspector Frost - the cadence of the word-flow evocative and visionary, akin to something the Colourist movement might have painted. Like Nick Drake's music, which serves as a backdrop to many of these books, Rickman's writing has a curious way of slipping beneath the skin and making you dance to its own subliminal harmonic beat. For me alas, the dance is over for another year...... or at least until the audio book comes out.

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2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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