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The Lamp of the Wicked (Merrily Watkins Mysteries) Paperback – Unabridged, 3 Oct 2003

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Product details

  • Paperback: 576 pages
  • Publisher: Pan; 1 edition (3 Oct 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 033049032X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0330490320
  • Product Dimensions: 17.7 x 11.1 x 3.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (61 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 604,854 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Phil Rickman writes mystery in the original sense. His current novels blend authentic crime fiction with a careful element of the unexplained. Midwinter of the Spirit, from the internationally-acclaimed Merrily Watkins series about the diocesan exorcist for Hereford, is currently in production with ITV Drama.

Rickman, a former TV and radio news reporter who still presents the book programme Phil the Shelf on BBC Radio Wales, has also written two historical novels with a new take on Dr John Dee, astrologer to Queen Elizabeth I. His earliest novels - paranormal thrillers based on aspects of British folklore - are all in print. His only short story, The House of Susan Lulham, can be found in the anthology Oxcrimes and he's also a contributor to Books to Die For, in which crime writers celebrate their literary heroes.

The 2014 novel, Night After Night is a ghost story and crime novel (not exactly horror or Young Adult, as you may have read elsewhere). It stands alone but involves characters from two thrillers originally written under the name Will Kingdom. A new Merrily Watkins novel is pencilled-in for 2015. PR has also collaborated with musician Allan Watson to produce on CD and iTunes the songs of Lol Robinson from the Merrily series and the Abbey Tapes from his early novel December. He is married and lives on the Welsh Border.

For the full and accurate facts, check out the website

Product Description


...The research is impeccable... [an] enthralling novel. -- Tribune, November 2003

Book Description

The village of Underhowle was on the brink of a new prosperity after half a century of decay, but now it seems destined for notoriety as the home of a serial killer. D.I. Francis Bliss, of Hereford CID, is convinced he knows where the bodies are buried, but diocesan Deliverance consultant Merrily Watkins - called in to conduct a controversial funeral - wonders if Bliss isn't blinkered by personal ambition. And are the killings in Underhowle really linked to possibly the most sickening mass-murders in British criminal history? Meanwhile, Merrily has more intimate problems: the need for discretion over her new relationship with the musician Lol Robinson; and the alleged angelic visitations on which many heap scorn. But it is Lol who follows an unexpected path into the mind of the confessed murderer, while Merrily tries to quell her own revulsion in an effort to scrub away the psychic stain left by a dead monster.

Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

22 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Soliloquies on 4 May 2005
Format: Paperback
"The Lamp of the Wicked" is another outstanding book in the Merrily Watkins series. Fot those who are new to the series, Merrily Watkins is the parish priest of Ledwardine and also the Deliverance Consultant for Hereford.
Rickman gives all the characters very clear voices, and whilst he is dealing with the possibility of serial killings he manages to keep control of the plot. This book is probably the darkest of the series so far - it's complex story and the usual twists are well executed.
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By little bookroom on 10 April 2003
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I'm a long-term Rickman fan and the arrival of a new Merrily Watkins mystery is a big event for me. Life gets suspended till I've finished the book though in with the excitement there's always a lurking fear that this time he won't deliver... But I reckon this is his most powerful novel yet.

If you haven't read them yet, the books have many things to offer; great characters, dialogue-to-die-for, truly suspenseful plotting, an ironic wit, a real earthy sense of evil, superb sense of place, and always a resolution that satisfies on several levels while still leaving a a few questions to chew on.

This latest novel, which takes a very famous crime case as its basis, is no exception. The pressure builds from the beginning all the way to the end with no let up and Rickman's mix of the infamous and the fictional gives a heightened sense of reality which leaves disbelief suspended from the ceiling. Masterly.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 22 April 2003
Format: Hardcover
At Last! The latest - and in many ways the best - of Phil Rickman's Ledwardine/Merrily Watkins books is here.
This time we have a murderer - who may be a serial killer, a satanist, or the victim of peculiar pollution, or none of these - a visionary, and a rich mix of Ledwardine eccentrics. Add in a guest appearance from a "famous" folksinger and what counts as the most unlikely comeback tour in the history of music (anyone still got their "Hazy Jane" t-shirts?). And just to spice things up, tie in some gruesome modern real-life horror. The series just gets better and better!
If you are familiar with Merrily Watkins, priest, mother and exorcist, , you will be aware that in the stories there is a recurrent treatment of the boundaries between modern Christianity and New age beliefs (yes, a novelist who makes you think!)- but Phil Rickman never lets this idea get stale. This time, cynicism and doubt are expressed by the least likely of all his characters.
Want a good supernatural thriller? A murder mystery? A tale of psychological horror? An examination of ecology, politics, and psyco-geograhy? Or just to catch up with the latest spicy gossip from Ledwardine? Whatever you're looking for, "The Lamp of the Wicked" has it.
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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Kay Bee on 24 April 2003
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Eagerly awaited by me (as a bit of a Phil Rickman fan), The Lamp of the Wicked - the fifth novel featuring the Reverend Merrily (exorcist and chain smoker) - did not disappoint. Good old Gomer Parry Planthire is here, along with Lol, and other familiar characters. Fans of December and The Man in the Moss will be delighted to find Moira Cairns here in one of the sub-plots. The increasingly angst-ridden Jane (Merrily's daughter) shows just how convincing Phil Rickman's characterisation is. These people - with their flaws, foibles and self-doubts are extremely believable, as are the new characters that turn up.
However, this book (the fourth so-called 'spiritual procedural') felt significantly darker than previous Merrily books and Rickman doesn't spare your emotions in dealing out cruel twists to characters you find you have become surprisingly attached to over time. Without revealing too much of the plot, there are connections made to some very dark real-life goings-on in the same part of the world.
There are a couple of things I have come to admire in this author's work: the skilful way he develops the plot through short insights into the thoughts of the main characters; the way contentious issues are convincingly voiced through a character (in this case the ill-effects of electricity pylons) without breaking the narrative flow; the convincing dialogue and characterisation.
I don't often re-read novels (in fact, I can only think of about 4 I have ever re-read), but I have recently embarked on a big re-read of the other books that feature Merrily Watkins (The Wine of Angels, Midwinter of the Spirit, A Crown of Lights, The Cure of Souls) and am finding them just as captivating second time around.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Mr D. on 16 April 2003
Format: Hardcover
After a long wait the new Merrily Watkins mystery is finally with us, and what a corker it is too. From the start you know that this story has taken a darker turn than the previous Merrily novels and in the hands of many other writers, could have turned out to be an offensive mess, but Rickman is a firm believer in 'less is more'and this style delivers far more twists,turns and genuine shudders than any other crime novellist writing today, shudders that creep up on you from the very shadows of Gloucester itself. It begins with a sceptic tank, and there is no better way to describe the struggling community, desperately trying to put itself on the map.
Rickman has that rare gift of creating completely believable characters, characters that you care so much about, you would gladly read 550 pages of them sat drinking tea, just to be amongst friends again. If this review is too gushy I apologise, but two things are inevitable from this writer. Merrily Watkins will become a household name and you will never look at electricty pylons in the same way ever again.Bring on book 6.
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