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Friends of the Dusk (Merrily Watkins Mysteries) - Phil Rickman (Released 3 Dec 2015)

An author I’d never heard of, despite this book being the 14th in the series. Before writing my review I had to look the author up and see what others were saying. Words like ‘Compassionate’, ‘original’ and ‘contemporary’ seem to be used a lot: phrases like ‘few writers blend the ancient and supernatural with the modern and criminal better than Rickman’ are bandied about.

Truth is I found it poorly written, rather disjointed in its flow and confusing with the speech often written as it sounds (wimen): there were several references to earlier works that I hadn’t read which unnecessarily confused the story line making it difficult to follow. It also irked me that the author used a large cast of characters and I was constantly flipping backwards to remind myself of just who was who; this wasn’t helped by him occasionally truncating the names of people and places!

It took me three attempts to ‘get into’ the story. To be honest, if it wasn’t for the fact that I was reviewing the book I’d have given up and sent it off to the local charity shop.

It’s rather a shame that I took such a dislike to the author’s style because the storyline (once I grasped it) isn’t terrible, though I feel it is far too long and unnecessarily drawn out.

A storm brings down a tree under which is discovered a skeleton with the skull detached and a stone in its mouth, as in a ‘deviant’ burial. What is the secret of this body? Why do people who come into contact with the skull die?

The clergy, under threat of having their ‘exorcism’ department closed down, race with the police to solve the murders and prevent more.

Almost like a vampire story but without the blood drinking: life force is taken by other methods.

I will give the author credit for his research, he’d obviously read up on a lot of different subjects in order to construct the story and I did learn a little bit about the church and of theories of life leaving the body upon death.

Not really a book that I’d recommend, but to be fair, I suspect it’s aimed at young adults, not grumpy old men like me. 11/2 anchors.