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Saturday 27 August 2011

The Secrets of Pain

We've not told you much about Phil Rickman's books yet, though there is a recent review of  To Dream of the Dead in our REVIEWS section. Here we fill the gap. (No, that's not what the Welsh call him)

The Secrets of Pain by Phil Rickman
Hardback at £18.99 
Those of you who have not come across this author's unusual pairing of country hating Scouse detective, Francis Bliss, and his real heroine, vicar/exorcist, Merrily Watkins, have missed a treat.
The ongoing conflict between established villagers and newcomers and between country folk and town folk, are central to his books, as is his evident concern for small town life. Despite being set across the border in Hereford, these themes will resonate with people in The Cotswolds. However, it is to be hoped that the mixture of crime and the almost supernatural elements of his plots are not quite so familiar to local residents.
His latest and best novel uses the extreme training methods of the SAS and their misuse as a constant threat hanging over Merrily and her daughter. However, the cruelty of cock-fighting gangs may not be a red herring and the creepily insane (or possessed?) are not to be ignored. There is tension from the first page as two of his characters battle their way through a violent winter storm only to witness horror in the snow and this tension hardly lets up through the entire book.

Well written and carefully plotted with moments of comedy to relieve the tension, this book is full of great characters and is gripping throughout. It also gives great value for its page count as well as for its quality (This new hardback runs to nearly 600 pages). 

First rate.

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