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The Fabric of Sin: A Merrily Watkins Mystery (Merrily Watkins Mysteries Book 9) [Kindle Edition]

Phil Rickman
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (71 customer reviews)

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Book Description

The Master House, close to the Welsh border, is medieval and slowly falling into ruins. Now the house and its surrounding land have been sold to the Duchy of Cornwall. But the Duchy's plans to renovate the house and its outbuildings are frustrated when the specialist builder refuses to work there. 'This is a place,' he tells the Prince's land-steward, 'that doesn't want to be restored.'

Directed by the Bishop of Hereford to investigate, deliverance consultant Merrily Watkins discovers ancient connections between the house and the nearby church, built by the Knights Templar whose shadow still envelopes isolated Garway Hill and its scattered communities. Why did all the local inns have astrological names? What deep history lies behind the vicious feud between two local families? And what happened here to intimidate even the great Edwardian ghost-story writer M R James?

When Merrily learns that she - and even her daughter, Jane - are under surveillance by the security services, she's ready to quit. But a sudden death changes everything, and she returns to Garway to uncover fibres of fear and hatred stitched into history and now insidiously twisted in the corridors - and the cloisters - of power.

Product Description


Compassionate, original and sharply contemporary. Rickman's crime series is one of the best around - Spectator

First rate. A passionate, flawed modern woman, every bit as concerned with the intricacies of crime as with demons that go bump in the night - Daily Mail

I thoroughly recommend both these books …. They would make a solid Christmassy read, appropriate to the season … Rickman's work has a satisfying refusal to find easy answers or to take sides in spiritual debates. The destabilizing combination of death and religion is fascinatingly observed in this series. What T.S.Eliot did for Canterbury Cathedral, Rickman does for Hereford - Shotsmag on Fabric of Sin and To Dream of the Dead.

From the Inside Flap

“We must have offended somebody or something at Garway… Next time we shall know better.” Garway church was built by medieval Knights Templar, whose stone coffins lids can be seen in its altar steps and window sills. After seven centuries, the Welsh Border village is still overshadowed by their mysteries. A few fields away, the Master House, abandoned and falling into ruin, has been sold to the Duchy of Cornwall, the private estate which provides an income for the Prince of Wales. 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, deliverance consultant Merrily Watkins is unconvinced, wary of being used, 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 where local inns have astrological names and a feud between two local families has its roots in medieval history. And what did happen in Garway to intimidate even the great Edwardian ghost-story writer M. R. James? Warned off when her inquiries stumble into forbidden areas, uncovering modern-day Masonic links, Merrily has no option but to conceal a major crime as she goes back to Garway to find fibres of fear stitched into history and insidiously twisted in the corridors - and the cloisters - of power.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 2093 KB
  • Print Length: 543 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1847240844
  • Publisher: Quercus (6 Sept. 2007)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B005CNS58E
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (71 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #36,282 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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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

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars History Comes Alive! 15 Dec. 2007
If someone like Phil Rickman had been my history teacher in high school, I probably would have got better grades and an earlier interest in what may be the most fascinating subject of all. The point is, he does meticulous research and has the ability to make it come alive for the reader. Merrily's Border Country is steeped in ancient mysteries that can only be speculated about; so much is shrouded in the depths of time. This time out we have the Knights Templar and their connection with present day Freemasonry. Also there is a reference to the writer, M. R. James, without whose wonderful ghost stories many of us would have been cheated out of the experience of shivering in our beds late at night, searching the shadows and thinking, "There's no such thing as ghosts. Really there isn't..."

But this certainly isn't some musty old tome written by an academic. This is the ninth (and you will see the significance of that number in the story) adventure with Merrily Watkins, her daughter Jane and her extended family. At this point poor Merrily is very stressed and who wouldn't be in her situation? Her position as Diocesan Exorcist is in jeopardy with the distinct possibility of losing it and having to take on multiple parishes much like the circuit riding preachers of old in the U.S. That, coupled with the gruesome things she has seen, would be enough to drive the most stable of us over the edge. But we are seeing her eventually becoming toughened by her experiences. She may still have self doubts but she won't be pushed around, even by her superiors.

Helping in her investigation into the strange events surrounding the Master House in Garway are her lover, Lol Robinson and her daughter Jane.
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24 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Seamless addition to a masterly series 16 Dec. 2007
A classic series - something that will live on beyond our time - is unfolding before us. Merrily Watkins may be 'only' a literary' creation of Mr Rickman's mind, but she seems more like real-life flesh and blood to me. Not only that, but Rickman (or Merrily...) is dealing with 'big issues' here: theology, philosophy, the nature of human interaction with this imperfect world - all included organically within an fantastic story. In short, I unreservedly recommended this book - and all its suberb predecessors.
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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
Phil Rickman's Merrily Watkins novels are The Archers meets Dennis Wheatley at MR James's house. They tick so many boxes. Rural escapism? Yep. Crime procedural? Yes. Supernatural chills? Naturally. Fascinating facts about, say, the Templars, or Celtic mythology or Elgar or cider or the metaphysical poets or the C of E's stance on exorcism? All present and correct. It's one of life's great mysteries why Phil Rickman isn't up there with Ian Rankin and Ken Follett in the bestseller lists. And why don't we see Merrily on the telly? Perfect Sunday evening viewing I would have thought. Move over Midsomer Murders. Anyway, as usual, another winner from Rickman.
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31 of 33 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Fabric of Sin 11 Sept. 2007
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Merrily Watkins, Deliverance Consultant for the Diocese of Hereford, is asked to look into an apparently ghostly happening in a very old house which appears to have Templar connections. The house has just been purchased by the Duchy of Cornwall and everything is being treated as very important and `need to know' by Merrily's boss, the Bishop. Before long the pace is hotting up and an apparent murder and suicide brings the police into the equation.

This is an intriguing story with many ramifications and connections with the recent past as well as events many centuries ago. The writing draws you into the story and you feel as though you know the characters. Lol Robinson - musician - starting out on his second career; Merrily herself who fears that Deliverance will be taken away from her; Frannie Bliss - exile from Merseyside; Jane Watkins - Merrily's teenage daughter who is starting to be wise beyond her years.

If you want something a bit different from normal crime and mystery stories then try any of this fascinating series. They can be read in any order but it is interesting to see the development of the series characters if you read the books in the order in which they were published. The series started with `The Wine of Angels.'
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another minor masterpiece 12 April 2008
By Polly Potter VINE VOICE
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
The series of Ledwardine stories continues to unfold, and the cast of characters grow and mature. Jane is leaving childhood behind, and Merrily and Lol's relationship develops. (I find myself fretting over Gomer Parry, he's growing old!)
Phil Rickman's writing is fantastic, he instils a sense of place and time so (apparently) effortlessly. The level of his research into the esoteric - and sometimes the mundane - is heroic. If you're new to the series, I would strongly advise you to start at the beginning and work your way through the Merrily Watkins novels. I envy you the pleasure of discovering the world she and her companions inhabit.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars who lives in a house like this .............. 9 Nov. 2007
In the latest outing. Merrily is involved in a property in the Soutwest Herefordshire village of Garway that belongs to the Duchy of Cornwall that may be haunted and may have a link with the Knights Templar. Meanwhile back in Ledwardine Merrily's daughter Jane, has concerns of her own, with a parishoner complaining about her mom to the locum vicar who's covering while Merrily is trying to sort Garway out and who has been anti-deliverance in a previous novel (Smile of a Ghost)and boyfriend problems now tha Eirion is away at University. On another front Lol Robinson is having to deal with becoming well known after one of his songs is used in and as the title of a succesful film. But, relaibly as usually Rickman weaves all of these into an utterley realistic and absorbing novel.
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