To Dream of the Dead
by Phil Rickman
Paperback at £7.99 (£5.99 with us)
This book is so good that, although it was published nearly three years ago, we felt we had to let you know about it. It is actually the tenth in the ‘Merrily Watkins’ series of crime novels but the author himself called in with it so I had an opportunity to read it before ordering some for the shop.
Though it is set in ‘Lewardine’ near Hereford, much of the subject matter could just as well apply to Moreton-in-Marsh. As in Moreton, local shops are under great pressure from super-markets and the inter-net. As in Moreton, there is argument as to the advantages or otherwise of a large new housing project. As in many of our surrounding villages, schools are closing while house prices force youngsters away from the area. And the plot unfolds during a heavy and continuous downpour which results in a flood, trapping people in the town.
After the discovery of the first murder victim, the author produces an increasingly claustrophobic atmosphere as the flood water rises and isolates the small market town. Vicar (and exorcist) Merrily Watkins, her Pagan teenage daughter, and their friend DI Francis Bliss, are central to much of the plot and the teasing out of clues. All three are totally convincing characters and I particularly liked the typical wit of Scouser Bliss. The plot is involving throughout and there are many twists and turns as the three gradually close in on the truth, each supplying part of the big picture. There are enough suspects for two novels, very believable minor characters and the author writes with passion about the demise of his small town and the way of the world. It is clever and complex but always entertaining and there are enough cliff-hangers to keep you reading. There are also surprises along the way and perhaps more than one moment that will make your hair stand on end.
I cannot remember a crime novel I have enjoyed more.